Map of Sand Island Access Point Return to Access Point Map
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River Conditions to Next Access Point: 

Between the upstream access point and the downstream access point on Sand Island, the river moves quickly over some significant rocks.  Under low-flow water conditions, this area is tricky, but canoeable.  Otherwise, the river flows gently in this section.  


  • The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and the D&L Trail: The D & L Trail, which is on the Lehigh Navigation towpath, extends west (upstream) to Allentown Canal Park, where it ends (for now), and east (downstream) to Freemansburg and far beyond.
  • Canal-River Water-Trail Loop: The proximity of the Lehigh Navigation canal to the riverbank in this reach allows for an interesting canal-river water-trail loop.   Boaters can move between  the river and the canal at either end of the four-mile stretch between Allentown Canal Park (near the Canoe House) and Bethlehem's Sand Island (upstream end).  There is only one lock (Lock #41) to portage around in this reach of the canal. 



Access Point Orientation and Description:
River access is on RIVER LEFT at several points on Sand Island.  The best access to the canal is at the Bike & Boat building.  Sand Island is not really an island, but a long peninsula created by the Lehigh Navigation canal and the Monocacy Creek, which run parallel to the river and bound Sand Island on the other (north) side.  The riverbank is steep and wooded.  A rough path on the upstream end of the island and a set of stairs on the downstream end provide the principal accesses to the river.

Locating the Access Point from the River:
Upstream Access (at the Bike & Boat building): Just a few yards BEFORE the railroad trestle, look on RIVER LEFT for a rough path up towards a large cinderblock building (the Bike & Boat building).  The best access point to the canal is on the opposite side of this building from the river. 

Downstream Access (stairway): Pass under the railroad trestle, then under the arched cement (automobile) bridge (Route 378 / Hill-to-Hill Bridge), then under the steel span (Fahey Bridge).  About a quarter-mile past the last bridge, and just below the rapids, land on RIVER LEFT and look for the stairs up the bank.

Locating the Access Point from the Canal:
The canal access point is underneath the railroad trestle next to the large cinderblock building (the Bike & Boat building).  The river access point is on the opposite side of this building from the canal.

Directions to Access Parking/Unloading Area by Land:
From Route 22: From Route 22, take Route 378 South and go 2.2 miles to Exit 2 (Eighth Avenue).  At the yield sign, bear right onto Eighth Avenue.  Go 0.8 mile on Eighth Avenue to its end at Lehigh Street.  Turn left on Lehigh Street and go 0.6 mile to the stop sign at Main Street.  Turn right onto Main Street and cross the bridge over the canal to the stop sign.  You are now on Sand Island.

From I-78: From I-78, take the Hellertown/Bethlehem Exit (#67).  At the end of the exit ramp, turn right and go north on Route 412 toward Bethlehem for 3.0 miles into Bethlehem to the traffic light at New Street.  Turn right onto New Street and go over the Fahey Bridge (and the Lehigh River).   Turn left at the FIRST traffic light after crossing the bridge onto Lehigh Street.   Go 0.2 mile on Lehigh Street to Main Street.  Turn left onto Main Street and cross the bridge over the canal to the stop sign.  You are now on Sand Island. 

Access Point Location:
Upstream River Access: After crossing the bridge over the canal, turn RIGHT at the stop sign and go 0.2 mile under a railroad trestle to the Bike & Boat building on your right and the river access point on your left.  Look for a rough, gravel slope down to the river. 

Canal Access: The canal access point is on the opposite side of the cinderblock building (the Bike & Boat building) from the river access.

Downstream River Access: After crossing the bridge over the canal, turn LEFT and go to the end of the cul-de-sac at the end of the roadway.  The staircase down to the river is a few yards down the path beyond the cul-de-sac.

User Facilities:

  • Restaurant, food, and other services available about a 10-minute walk away
  • Restrooms (near the tennis courts)
  • Road access directly to river and canal at upstream accesses
  • Road access close to river at downstream access
  • Canal-river water-trail loop
  • Historical features and cultural center (Ice House)
  • Playground and tennis courts
  • Walking and biking on the Lehigh Navigation towpath
  • Fishing in season
  • Wildlife viewing

Ownership and Maintenance:

  • City of Bethlehem

Present Use and Condition:

  • Canal Access at Sand Island: When only a canal-paddling experience is desired, it is best to access the canal at the Bike & Boat building on the western (upstream) end of Sand Island.  The access point is under the railroad trestle directly beside the Bike & Boat building. One can paddle freely a short distance downstream, and about a mile upstream.  By carrying around Lock #41, one can paddle upstream another three miles to Allentown Canal Park.  The canal water is moving at about one mile per hour.
  • River Access at Sand Island: On RIVER LEFT, a short, steep climb on a rough trail down the riverbank is easily accessed, but awkward.  Be cautious of poison ivy.
PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resource Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor Wildlands Conservancy Lehigh Earth Observatory PA Fish and Boat Commission

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