Not too long ago we went to the Lehigh Gorge State Park. As stated in the post we wrote about it, the Lehigh Gorge State Park runs from the town of Jim Thorpe at the south end up to the Francis E Walter Dam on the north end. We were curious about where we could possibly jump onto the river at the north end and go tubing for a few miles. So, we jumped in Ebony to go an explore the area around the dam. We thought it would only take about an hour. Hahaha! We should have known better.
There is an entrance to the Francis E Walter Dam, on Francis E Walter Dam Road, a few miles outside of the town of Blakeslee, Pennsylvania. You simply head west on Hwy 940. Go just past Jack Frost National Golf Course and it is and the road is on the right.
You’ll drive a few miles down the road and eventually you will come to a fork in the road. If you go straight, it brings you down to the reservoir on the north side of the dam. It allows you to put a motorized boat into the water. If you follow the road to the left, you will soon come upon the top of the dam. To the north you will see where the Lehigh River forms a reservoir. To the south you will see the Lehigh River continue on cutting a path through the mountains as it flows southward.
We took in the views and then crossed the dam looking for parking. There is a place to pull off at the other end of the dam, on the top, just before you head down the hill. But, the space can only accommodate 2 or 3 cars and is not an official parking spot. If you go down the hill you will find parking and a porta potty on the left. Drive a hundred yards or so more and there is more parking on the right and an entrance to put in your non-motorized watercraft, like kayaks and canoes.
We turned around and went back to the small patch of gravel at the top of the dam. Someone was leaving and we pulled right in. We geared up, hydrated and headed out. There is an easy to walk, winding path that goes down to the top of the spillway and on down to the rivers edge just past the spillway. We decided to go off path and explore around the mouth of the spillway first and then we hiked along the rocks and boulders at the rivers edge to get to get back to where the path met the river bank.
There was a peninsula covered with rocks, bushes and small trees. Ethan and Trevor went to explore it with me to see if there was a place to cross the river. We wanted to get to the other side without going back up the hill and around. About 1/2 way there, I decided to continue on alone as the terrain started to look challenging. I got to the end of the peninsula and stood up on a boulder to both examine the terrain as well as take in the beauty. Small stagnate pool behind me and small rapids in front. Looks like we’ll be going back up the hill and around.
We snapped a few images and began to trek back up the hill. Mandy and Ethan took the path. Noah, Trevor and I hiked through the brush. We met up at the top of the spillway and headed to the other side of the river. We headed across a hill about 50 yards from the river until we found a trail with blackberries along it. We detoured down this trail and got closer to the river bank. We came across an area where the edge of the hillside was eroding away.
Eventually we came to another detour. I scouted it and determined we could make it down to the riverside. Signalling to the rest of the Nomad Crew to come on and we were at the river’s edge in no time. This is definitely not a trek you want to do in flip flops or light tennis shoes. The riverbank is made up of a mixture of big and small smooth rocks. We found some rocks sculptures that were constructed by others. So, of course, we had to make our own! And we had to try to make primitive tools and arrowheads as well. Back to grunting like cavemen again.
After further exploration we came to the determination that with all of these rocks, rapids and difficulty in getting down to the water’s edge with just yourself, this is not likely where people put in to go tubing. Instead of going back across the rocks, we decided to climb the hillside behind us. With some buddy system help, we scaled it and were on our way back to Ebony.
We expected a leisurely checking out of the dam. Almost 4 hours later and drenched with sweat, we were on our way back to home base. The Francis E Walter Dam area is great for hiking and for boating in the reservoir. Heck. If you are into Lacrosse, there is a field at the dam’s base. The views are beautiful and worth the trip over if you are in the vicinity. Safe Travels.