One place that you can go to and hike over and over is the Martins Creek Environmental Preserve which was established as a buffer next to PPL’s (formerly known as PP&L or Pennsylvania Power and Light) Martins Creek power plant. The preserve which is managed as a natural and recreational area by PPL offers 215 acres of woodlands and meadows for hiking and exploring with well over 5 miles of trails, called the Tekening Hiking Trails. It’s a wonderful place for viewing some great scenery and seeing wildlife such as numerous species of birds, turkey, squirrels, rabbits and deer.
The name “Tekening” (tek- en-ing) is said to come from the Lenni Lenape meaning “in the wood.” Here are some of the last remaining stands of old-growth forest in Northampton County, which can be seen along with former farm fields and pastures and views of the middle Delaware River, which has been designated by Congress as a Wild and Scenic River.
A network of four blazed trails facilitates loop hikes. The Scenic River Trail (blue blaze; 2.1 miles) runs nearest the bank of the Delaware River, passing by the rugged Foul Rift rapids (dropping more than 22 feet in less than a half mile, the Foul Rift is one of the most dangerous sections of the river). Further west and upland, the Ridge Trail (orange; 1.3 miles) passes by rocky outcroppings and farm fields. Two shorter trails near the southern end of the preserve complete the network.
Wear good hiking shoes as the trails are rocky and get quite muddy after wet periods. Still, winter and early spring is a really good time to hike the Tekening Hiking Trails. It is easier then to see through the woods and get great views of the Delaware River. Also, as spring progresses some of the trails close in from growth at certain areas, especially sections of the orange trail. Bug repellent is a must in the warmer months. Ticks have presented problems to the trails in years past.
Pets are allowed but should be leashed. Hunting and shooting are not allowed (except for archery deer hunting which is allowed by special permit only). Camping, open fires, alcoholic beverages and narcotics are prohibited. Motor vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles, are also prohibited.
Parking is available at both ends of the trail system, in the south off of Foul Rift Road near the Martins Creek power plant and to the north along the Belvidere-Martins Creek Highway in Riverton. Maps used to be posted at both parking lots at information signs as were paper copies, but may not be present. Trails are well marked with signs and colored squares on the trees.
Directions for the two parking lots: The south lot is off DePues Ferry/Foul Rift Road next to the power plant. From PA 611, go east on Martins Creek-Belvidere Highway for 3 miles. (Follow signs for PPL.) Turn right on DePues Ferry/Foul Rift Road; go about 0.9 miles to the lot on the left. The Cedars Pavilion is located in the parking area. Handicap accessible, it accommodates 72 people plus 2 wheel chairs. Here are charcoal grills, trash cans and portable restroom facilities. There is no rental fee. The GPS coordinates to the pavilion are N40 48.184 W75 06.443.
The Tekening Trails North Parking Lot is on Martins Creek-Belvidere Highway, 0.3 miles west of the bridge to Belvidere, New Jersey. The GPS coordinates are N40 49.451 W75 05.492. Located next to this parking area are the Lower Mount Bethel Welcome Center and township recreational fields. Please visit the fairly-new Welcome Center in Riverton, built with green design (solar panels, constructed wetlands, rain gardens). There is also an info board here with a trail system map.
Also, the Lower Mount Bethel Township (LMBT) trail system, a walking and bike riding trail begins from the south parking lot via the Primitive Trail. The trail traverses through a variety of habitats and scenery through PPL property; then parallels the Martins Creek/Belvidere Highway, before turning onto Del Haven Road and leading to the Keifer Ball Fields a distance of close to 3 miles. Surfaces of the trail are earthen, cindered and grassy. Part of the trail passes through wetlands which has wooden sections, but during wet conditions may be impassable.