On a beautiful day it might seem like half the population of the greater Philadelphia area is out on the Schuylkill River Trail running, walking, in-line skating or cycling. This incredibly popular multi-use trail runs from the heart of the city northeast through urban, suburban and rural areas and is part of the East Coast Greenway. Currently 60 miles of the trail are complete, but when finished it will stretch for almost 130 miles from Philadelphia to Auburn, PA. Considering its vast length, the SRT is owned, managed and developed by a coalition of different organizations and has numerous access points, dozens of connections to trails that are part of The Circuit, and a diverse variety of historical, natural, recreational, and educational sites along its route.
Following are key sections of the SRT:
Philadelphia: In the city the route runs for about 10 miles and includes sections that are paved, on a sidewalk, along the crushed stone and boardwalk surface of the Manayunk Canal towpath, and on-road to Port Royal Avenue. Pick up the trail at Schuylkill Banks, a linear park that hosts numerous events, and travel past the Art Museum and Boathouse Row. Just beyond Locust Street find a recently completed boardwalk before following along a sidewalk before reaching the towpath, which also provides access to the bustling Manayunk neighborhood. From Shawmont to Port Royal Avenue the trail uses Nixon Street before heading back off road. Near Manayunk it is possible to connect to the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail - Forbidden Road, Manayunk Bridge Trail, and onward to other trails.
Philadelphia City - Phoenixville: With the exception of a short on-road section between Port Providence and Mount Clare, this section is off-road on a wide, paved surface. This segment includes the area between the Philadelphia City Line and is managed by Montgomery County. Along this portion it is possible to connect with the Perkiomen Trail, Audubon Loop, Cross County Trail, and Valley Forge (access via a new bridge over the river that is set to be complete in May 2016). From these trails it is possible to connect to other trails that are part of the Circuit.
Phoenixville - Pottstown: This section is off road and mostly crushed stone, although small portions have been paved. Note that the segment from Parkerford to Route 422 bridge into Pottstown has not yet been constructed, although an on road route connects with the next segment.
Pottstown - Reading: From Pottstown to the Berks County line the trail is paved, but from there to Birdsboro the surface is crushed stone. For a 4-mile section between Birdsboro and Gibraltar it is necessary to travel on-road.
Reading - Hamburg: This 20-mile segment is on-road. Plans are to eventually develop an off-road route.
Hamburg - Pottsville: A present, 6-miles of this rural route is completed between Hamburg and Auburn running alongside the Blue Mountain and above the Schuylkill River. Plans call for the eventual expansion of the trail but at present the route ends at an old railway bridge in Pottsville.
Whether planning to ride the entire route or stroll along a small section, to learn more about individual sections of the trail including trailheads, events, updates, and highlights see the official Schuylkill River Trail website.
Photos: Schuylkill River Trail.com