Explore the nature and history that the Northern Lehigh Area so proudly has to offer.

That's exactly what visitors can do thanks to the creation of a new Northern Lehigh Trail System Map.

The map was unveiled at a news conference Tuesday at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center in Slatington.

Robert Stettner, of Northern Lehigh Future Focus, said the group "couldn't think of a better location to hold this news conference in order to introduce this new map than here at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center."

"For the nature center is at the intersection of the famous Appalachian Trial, and the almost completed Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Trail," Stettner said. "Furthermore, the nature center itself is home to the 13-mile trail network located throughout its 750-acre property."

Stettner said the trail map was a cooperative project between Northern Lehigh Future Focus and The Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

He said the 11-inch-by-17-inch trifold map contains an overview of the Northern Lehigh Trail System and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and its trail network, along with maps of four major trails in the Northern Lehigh area, and brief histories of the major towns in the Northern Lehigh area through which the trails traverse.

Stettner said the trail map also contains brief capsules of the eight trails, which are contained in or traverse through the northern section of both Lehigh and Northampton counties.

He said the trails include the Appalachian Trail, Lehigh River Water Trail, Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Slatington National Historic District Walking Tour Trail, Slate Heritage Trail, Lehigh Valley Log Cabin Auto Tour Trail, Walnutport Canal Towpath Trail and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center Trail Network. The capsules also contain information about the trail surface, trail elevation, amenities, and interesting features found along the trails, Stettner said.

Stettner then heaped praise on Dan Kunkle, director of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, and Les Glanz, of Northern Lehigh Future Focus, whom he said were "instrumental in completing the project."

"Les gathered information about the trails, wrote text, and along with Dan, edited text, worked on the design and layout of the map," Stettner said. "Nature center interns and students at Lehigh University also worked on the layout, created the maps and field plotted GPS points for all of the maps."

He said Northern Lehigh Future Focus and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center each provided 50-percent funding to produce and print the trail maps, which were produced as a public service to trail users in the Northern Lehigh area, as well as a tool to encourage trail use and promote the vast and growing trail system in the Northern Lehigh area to those living outside it. Bestway Instant Print of Allentown printed the maps, Stettner said.

An initial printing of 5,000 maps was recently completed, and the trail maps will be available at Slatington and Walnutport Borough Halls, Washington Township Municipal Building, Slatington Trailhead and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, as well as select businesses in the Northern Lehigh Area, he said.

"Before we get to the unveiling, I'd like to publicly thank both Dan Kunkle and Les Glanz for all their hard work and many hours involved in seeing this project to fruition," Stettner said. "I also thank the intern and students who assisted on the project, along with Bestway Instant Print for producing the maps."

At that, Kunkle and Dan Stevens, president of Northern Lehigh Future Focus, unveiled the trail system map.

Kunkle thanked Future Focus, as well as Maria Tranguch, former associate director of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, for their efforts.

"This is a good tool," Kunkle said. "This is a nice piece."

Kunkle said the map will help promote the area on a more widespread level.

"This is a great asset to the trails of the Northern Lehigh area," Kunkle said. "This is going to bring a lot of people here."

Dale Freudenberger, Anthracite Region Coordinator for the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, said the map is a great way to promote research and educate people about the area.

"This is a great project," Freudenberger said. "This brochure is an outstanding addition to the trail."

Northern Lehigh Future Focus is a Slatington-based community visioning group that serves the Northern Lehigh area.