The Union Canal Trail parallels Tulpehocken Creek between Stonecliffe Action Park northwest of downtown Reading and Blue Marsh Lake. The original Union Canal ran 79.5 miles from the Schuylkill River at Reading to the Susquehanna River at Middletown Harrisburg. Completed in 1827, the canal was not very successful for transporting goods boatmen were hesitant to use the narrow channel and locks. The scenic trail passes several historical stone buildings built during the canal's heyday; many are now used for park offices and add interest to the towpath trail.
The Union Canal Trail occupies property managed by the Army Corp of Engineers. It leads across farmland to surrounding Blue Marsh Lake
, which also has its own trails. Much of the trail is a well maintained crushed stone surface, 12 feet wide. At the Stilling Basin entrance the trail turns to single track.
Note: Horses are not allowed on the Union Canal Trail but are permitted on the multi-use trails at Blue Marsh Lake.
Parking is available at the eastern end at Stonecliffe Action Park along Columbia Street and at the Berks Heritage Center on Tulpehocken Road (opposite the creek from the trail; bridge access to trail available). You can also park at Gring's Mill off Red Bridge Road (includes a seasonal weekend concession stand), off Rebers Bridge Road (south of the creek) and off Palisades Road.