About this Itinerary
The Schuylkill River Trail is envisioned to begin in Philadelphia and stretch northwest from the city along the 128-mile river. The developing project is currently open in several sections, including this 27-mile trail segment between Philadelphia and Valley Forge. This segment is primarily an asphalt-paved trail traveling through urban and suburban landscapes to one of our nation’s most iconic historical parks. In Philadelphia, the trail uses Fairmount Park trails and the Manayunk Canal towpath. Outside of the city, the trail follows a former Pennsylvania Railroad line through Montgomery County.
If flying to the area, the closest airport is Philadelphia International Airport, which is a little more than seven miles from downtown Philadelphia and 34 miles from Valley Forge. If staying in the city, cabs are easily available as is SEPTA, the public transit system. If staying outside of the city, renting a car is your best bet. Philadelphia is also easily reachable by Amtrak train.
There are many fabulous places to stay in the City of Brotherly Love. If you don’t have a favorite, we recommend Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco. Located in Philadelphia’s Old City, this property is fabulous for a romantic getaway or a family weekend trip. Before making reservations check out their special packages. The hotel has bikes (adult only) available for guests and complimentary wine is offered daily from 5-6 p.m. For a fabulous view, ask for a room on one of the upper floors overlooking Liberty Bell Center. If you join Kimpton Karma Rewards program, wi-fi is free and you will receive other benefits including a $10 gift certificate to the mini-bar in your room. There is no fee to join the program.
The hotel is about 25 blocks from the SRT trailhead, so if using the hotel’s bikes you will need to navigate city streets to reach the trail. Another option is to rent a bike from Fairmount Bicycles. The staff is extremely friendly and the shop is just blocks from the Schuylkill Banks trailhead.
If you’d prefer to stay closer to Valley Forge and ride into Philadelphia, you can stay at Hyatt House Philadelphia/King of Prussia. The hotel shuttle, based on availability, will take you to Valley Forge Park, which is less than 10 minutes away. From here, you can rent a bike at Valley Forge Bike Rental and start the SRT or warm up with a two-hour, five-mile guided bike tour through Valley Forge’s Joseph Plumb Martin Trail. This tour stops at the Muhlenberg Brigade site, the National Memorial Arch, Artillery Park, and the Grand Parade.
Starting in Philadelphia, the Schuylkill Banks trailhead is in Center City under the Walnut Street Bridge. There is no parking at this entrance but you can get information about events taking place on this section of the SRT at the Schulykill Banks Information Center kiosk. You can also access the Schuylkill Banks section using ramps from Market and Chestnut Streets, stairs at Walnut Street, or a pedestrian bridge at Locust and Race Streets that will take you over an active rail line.
There are additional trail entry points in the city: Lloyd Hall near the Philadelphia Art Museum; Girard Avenue near the Philadelphia Zoo; and Columbia Bridge, East Park Canoe House, East Falls, and Manayunk. All but Columbia Bridge offer some type of parking.
If you’re out for a leisurely ride, stop in Manayunk. This charming town sits along the banks of the Schuylkill River and the Manayunk Canal. Main Street is filled with Victorian storefronts where you can shop and eat. If you need a java boost, stop by Volo’s Coffeehouse for fresh brewed Columbian coffee, pastries, or a sandwich.
Just outside of the city is the Conshohocken Brewing Company, another great place to stop. The restaurant has a nice deck and bike racks to lock up your wheels.
As you continue on the trail, you will pass five more trailheads before reaching the Betzwood trailhead, which connects to Valley Forge Park. In between, you can stop at the Port Providence trailhead if you need a restroom or water.
Also at this trailhead is the Fitzwater Station Restaurant and Bar, a casual and friendly place to grab a drink and a bite to eat. You can see the restaurant from the trail so it’s easy to find. The setting is beautiful as it’s on the Schuylkill River Canal. The history of Fitzwater’s and its owners makes it especially interesting as it was a stop on the anti-slavery Underground Railroad.
Behind Fitzwater’s is Port Providence Paddle; they have everything you need for a fun water experience. While on the water you may see deer, egret, herons, and beavers as you paddle along on the historical Schuylkill River Canal.
When you arrive at the Betzwood trailhead on the west side of Valley Forge National Historic Park, you will need to cross the Schuylkill River via the Rt. 422 walkway to access the main park.
Plan on staying a second day to explore the area’s many attractions. A must-see place that will give you goose bumps is Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park. Here you will see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and other places that played a critical role in the birth of our country. There is no cost to enter the park. However, you need a ticket to see Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. You can pick up free, same-day timed tour tickets starting at 8:30 a.m. on a first-come, first-serve basis at the park’s visitor center at 6th and Market Street. Alternatively, you can reserve tickets for $1.50 per person online or by calling 877-444-6777. No tickets are required in January and February. The tour is approximately 30 minutes and you need to arrive 15 minutes early to go through security. If you want to see the Liberty Bell, go as early as possible in the morning as the lines get long as the day goes on.
Learn about the Continental Army’s most famous encampment during the Revolutionary War at Valley Forge. The park preserves America’s history and helps us honor our nation’s leaders and soldiers who fought for our independence. The park has a myriad of programs that will inform, amaze, and educate visitors of all ages. The park connects to other trails; the Valley Forge Bike Map is helpful. In addition to cycling, hiking, and walking through the park, you can take a 90-minute trolley tour, or a self-guided or private tour. Special programs are also offered for children and birdwatchers. Check the calendar of events before your trip.
For an adventure of a different kind, try a hot air balloon ride with the team at Sky Riders Balloon Team. Located in Collegeville, they are 35 miles from Philly and 16 miles from Valley Forge. The ride itself is about an hour but you need to allow about three hours for the whole adventure. Launching is dependent on weather so flexibility is required. The views are simply beautiful.