Sand Island Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:Main Street and River Street, Bethlehem, PA
Hours:6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (to 9 p.m. during daylight saving season)
Fee: Free
Contact:, 610-865-7081

Bathrooms: Near the tennis courts
Water/Snacks: Water fountain near the bathrooms

This urban park along the Lehigh Canal offers great views of the Lehigh River, in addition to trails, tennis courts, and level biking.

Sand Island Park
Photo by: iStock Photo

Sand Island Park is a narrow peninsula between the Lehigh Canal and the Lehigh River in downtown Bethlehem. At this city park, you’ll find easy walking and biking along the water, as well as access to the canal for fishing and paddling (and the river, for experienced boaters).
The Lehigh Canal, created in the nineteenth century to transport coal by mule-drawn barges, ran from White Haven to Easton, passing through Bethlehem. Today, the canal is used for recreation. Its level towpath has been converted to a paved, stroller-friendly trail, which is part of the D&L Trail, a planned 165-mile route from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol.

On Sand Island, the level canal towpath trail is crushed stone suitable for any hybrid or mountain bikes. You can pick up the trail below the Main Street overpass and continue about a half-mile to the end of the island, passing a historical lock and the Ice House (now converted to a performing arts center) over an iron bridge. At the end of the island, you get a nice view of the Lehigh River through the trees, and the Bethlehem Steel plant across the river. The trail makes a loop with Sand Island Trail, which runs along the middle of the island with occasional river views. For longer biking or hiking, you can follow the canal towpath 4 miles north from Sand Island to Allentown, or south 3.6 miles to Freemansburg, or beyond, to Easton.

The slow-moving, protected canal can be paddled upstream over a short section beginning from the cinderblock building next to the railroad trestle at the western end of Sand Island. After about a mile, it encounters Lock 41. Portage around the lock to continue upstream about 3 miles to Allentown’s Canal Park, and return via the same route. Kids old enough to handle their own boats will enjoy this paddle. For more-experienced paddlers, a loop can be made using the Lehigh River to return to Sand Island.

The canal’s best fishing access on the island is around Lock 41 where Sand Island Trail and the D&L Trail towpath diverge.

The park also has picnic tables and a playground.

Remember: Dogs must be leashed.

Plan B:

Nearby, Allentown’s Lehigh Parkway features an easy, paved path along the Little Lehigh Creek for bikes and walking, and a trout nursery.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Walk up Main Street to explore downtown Bethlehem.


Get outdoor tips & trips
Yes, I want to receive expert advice on getting my family outside!



Marsh Creek State Park »
Playing in Brandywine Creek
675 Park Road, Downingtown, PA

Haverford College Arboretum »
Large duck pond with giant snapping turtle
1 College Lane, Haverford, PA

Wissahickon Valley Park »
Restored historical village in park's south end
300 Northwestern Ave, Philadelphia PA

West Fairmount Park »
Butterfly, hummingbird, and sensory gardens
Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive, Philadelphia, PA


Tyler State Park »
Plenty of access to broad, flat creek banks
101 Swamp Road, Newtown, PA

Green Lane Park »
Challenging trails around reservoir's perimeter
2144 Snyder Road, Green Lane, PA

Hibernia County Park »

Cottages and ruins from the iron-making era
Park Rd, Coatesville, PA

Blue Marsh Lake »
Sensory trail, orienteering trail, and nature trail
1268 Palisades Drive, Leesport, PA

© 2022 Appalachian Mountain Club | 10 City Square, Boston, MA 02129
About | Privacy Policy | Contact Us