Memorial Day is coming up fast, and with it comes the end of May and, hopefully, the beginning of warmer weather (and less rain, please). After a snow-packed Pennsylvania winter, many of us are looking forward to barbecues, picnics and just being outdoors in general.
This week’s list is dedicated to the myriad of beautiful parks that Pennsylvania, or more specifically, the Lehigh Valley, has to offer. All of the following parks have plentiful facilities, scenic trails and loads of fun stuff to do.
1. Jacobsburg State Park and Environmental Education Center – The entirety of Jacobsburg State Park is 1,168 acres, and with that acreage comes various areas utilized for hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking and environmental education. The park features 18.5 miles of scenic trails, portions of which run parallel to the Bushkill Creek.
Although your kids won't realize it -- we won't tell them, promise -- they'll be getting a history lesson even while they're running down the trails and splashing through the shallow creek.
As you head through Henry's Woods, an old growth forest, make sure to look up, or you'll miss the beauty of an interesting ecological feature -- the hemlock and white oak trees are 275 to 300 years old.
Within the Jacobsburg National Historic District lies a colonial gun manufactory where the Henry Rifle was once made. The Boulton Historic Site can be accessed via Jacbosburg's trails, or via the the site's main entrance at 402 Henry Road, Nazareth.
The main entrance of Jacobsburg State Park is at 835 Jacobsburg Road, Wind Gap. After you park in the free lot, grab the kids and the picnic essentials. You'll find the main picnic area just beyond the bridge, near the restrooms.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and is pet-friendly. Make sure to check out the "Places" page for pictures and more information on what is and what is not permitted inside the park.
How to get there: Jacobsubrg State Park is located at 835 Jacobsburg Road, Wind Gap (a portion of the park is in Wind Gap, and another portion is in Bushkill Township). The park is best accessed from the Belfast exit off Route 33 -- just follow the signs.
2. Louise W. Moore County Park – All of the Louise W. Moore County Park's 125 acres is a picnicker's dream: the park is home to baseball and softball fields; badminton, tennis and volleyball courts; playgrounds and jungle gyms; and, of course, pavilions and picnic tables.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, and the various amenities are open to the public. Pavilions can be rented for a specific day, however, permits are required for a group of ten or more. For more information or to rent a pavilion, call (610) 746-1975.
And sorry, folks, but Fido must stay home. Louise W. Moore County Park does not allow pets.
How to get there: Louise W. Moore County Park is located on Country Club Road in Lower Nazareth Township. The park is easily accessed from the Hecktown Road exit off Route 33 -- at the stoplight, turn left (away from Northampton County AAA).
3. Penn Pump Park – Penn Pump Park is one of ten parks in the Palmer Township park system. It may be small, but it has all of the necessary picnic features and then some, including a softball diamond, restrooms, pavilions, barbecue pits and picnic tables.
The best part? The walking trails run adjacent to the Bushkill Creek.
Unique to Penn Pump Park is that its summer hours exceed sunset; From March 1 to October 1, the park is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. No rentals are required to use any of the facilities.
For a full list of Palmer Township parks, visit www.palmertwp.com.
How to get there: Penn Pump Park is located at Northwood Avenue and Bushkill Drive in Palmer Township. The park is catty-corner to the Belyea Company on Northwood Avenue (think, "I'm heading to the Palmer Park Mall.")
4. Hugh Moore Park – Easton's Hugh Moore Park is a historic park right down the road from Riverview Park, which means it shares the awesome view of the rushing Lehigh River. The park includes all of the regular amenities, like ample parking, restrooms, walking trails and pavilions.
The coolest thing about Hugh Moore Park is that it is set up to display all of the historic pieces of canal history. You can see the ruins of 19th century industrial complexes, the old locks used by riverboats, and, in the warmer months, you can even take a ride on the Josiah White II, a real vintage canal boat.
For more information, visit www.wildlandspa.org.
How to get there: Hugh Moore Park is located in Easton along the Lehigh River. The park is best accessed via S. 25th Street to Lehigh Drive.
5. Monocacy Park -- Monocacy Park is the largest and the most feature-filled park in the city of Bethlehem's park system.
With a swimming pool, a nature trail, picnic tables, benches, pavilions, a dog park and more, this park truly has it all.
To rent a pavilion, the cost on weekdays is $65 for residents and $90 for non-residents. On weekends and holidays the cost is $75 for residents and $100 for non-residents. For more information or to rent a pavilion, call the Parks & Recreation office at (610) 865-7081.
How to get there: Monocacy Park is located on the corner of Schoenersville Road and Illicks Mill Road, just down the road a piece from Lehigh Valley Hospital - Muhlenberg.
5. Dimmick Park – Dimmick Park is Hellertown’s oldest public park and is named in honor of Burgess Morris Dimmick, the mayor who was instrumental in securing the financial aid which made its construction possible. Dimmick was mayor of Hellertown from 1927 until 1945 -- longer than any other person since the borough was incorporated in 1872.
Features of Dimmick Park's 12 acres include a playground, ballfields, picnic facilities, walking trails, and, unique to this list, a large public pool -- one of the largest municipal pools in the Lehigh Valley, in fact.
Dimmick Park is open from sunrise to sunset, is pet-friendly and has grills available for picnics.
How to get there: Dimmick Park is located at Tobias Drive and Durham Street in Hellertown. The park is best accessed via Main Street to Durham Street.