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Hiking and Dining in Eastern Pennsylvania

Author: soliteyah
Date of Trip: April 2007

The Saturday before Earth Day was so beautiful in the Philadelphia area that SO and I decided to get out of the house and go hiking for the day. We wanted to go somewhere we’d never been, so we hit the Web and started looking up state parks. We settled on Jacobsburg, a state park and environmental education center near Easton, PA.

The drive took about an hour and a half, mostly along Route 611. The road runs right along the Delaware River for a few miles, and that combined with the flowering dogwood and magnolia trees along the roadside made for a wonderfully scenic ride.

Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
Jacobsburg has several different parking lots and entrances, and though most of them are clearly marked at the entrances themselves, there aren’t a lot of signs directing you to the park from the surrounding roads. We approached via Route 33, hoping that there would be a sign for the park at the appropriate exit — but no dice. Luckily, we had a map and figured out that we needed to get off at the Belfast exit.

We parked near the Boulton Heritage Office off of Henry Road, picked up a park map from a little kiosk, and used the public bathrooms, which were clean but didn’t have sinks or anything to wash your hands. (Instant hand sanitizer would’ve been a good item to have with us!)

Then we headed out along the Henry’s Woods trail, which is limited to pedestrians only. (Most of the park’s trails are also open to horses, bikes and cross-country skiers.) The well-marked trail led us along Bushkill Creek through a lovely green forest of hemlock trees — the only shade we’d see all day, since it was too early in the season for the other trees to have any leaves yet.

The trail eventually brought us to Jacobsburg’s main parking lot on Belfast Road, which was absolutely packed. We’d wondered why ours was the only car parked at the other lot — clearly all the cool kids were hanging out here! From there we hiked along the Homestead Trail, which was pretty but not quite as nice as Henry’s Woods. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the large number of people in the park, we didn’t run into too many of them. And everyone we did meet was polite (they said hi, didn’t run us over with their bicycles, etc.).

We spent all afternoon in the park, finishing up with the very pretty Sober’s Run Loop Trail. By that point we’d run out of water and snacks, and dinner was calling….

Mamma D’s Italian Restaurant

We drove about 40 minutes or so from the park back toward Philadelphia before we stumbled upon Mamma D’s Italian Restaurant, located right on Route 611 in Pipersville. The place also has a winery (Fratelli Desiato Vineyards), but SO and I didn’t bother sampling the wine — we had food on the brain! The menu featured lots of pasta options, as well as veal, fish and “chef’s suggestions,” which Chef Luigi himself cooks right in front of you at an open counter right in the dining room.

The dining room itself was a bit eclectic, decor-wise; there were classy touches like candles and live plants, but the tables had paper spread on top of the tablecloths, and hanging over the fireplace were both a deer head and … well, the other end of a deer.

SO ordered pesto pasta with shrimp, while I had “Antipasto di Luigi”: provolone cheese, salami, artichoke hearts and other grilled vegetables over mixed greens. Delish! SO’s pasta was about a normal restaurant-size plate, which is to say about two regular servings; meanwhile, mine was absolutely gargantuan — there had to be at least three servings on that plate, if not four. We both happily wrapped up our leftovers.

We went to Mamma D’s for good food and a relaxed atmosphere, and the restaurant delivered both. However, we did have a few teeny little quibbles. The pseudo-Italian music playing over the sound system was cheesy, and the olive oil dipping sauce that came with the bread tasted a little salty for my liking. Our server was obviously pretty new and acted like he was afraid we’d start yelling at him at any moment. (“Your food should be out in five minutes. Is that okay?”) But he was nice and clearly very eager to please — a little more experience and he’ll be just fine.

Our bellies nicely stuffed, we drove the rest of the way home with the windows down, enjoying the waning light of our wonderful spring day.

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