At first glance, the name for this paved, suburban trail appears deceptive. After branching off the longer and better-known Schuylkill River Trail on Conshohocken's north side, the Cross County Trail heads northeast, following an abandoned rail line to Brooks Road, then paralleling Alan Wood Road around the massive strip mall whose anchor stores include IKEA and Home Depot. It rejoins the old rail line just south of Ridge Pike, continuing northeast to its current terminus at the corner of Germantown Pike and Chemical Road in Plymouth Meeting, little more than 3 miles in length. Despite providing a means for local residents to access nearby shopping centers, and, indirectly, further off center-city Philadelphia or Valley Forge National Park, the trail currently comes nowhere near traversing Montgomery County.
However, this is slated to change in the future. County officials recently began working on plans to extend the trail further east, connecting to the Wissahickon and Pennypack trails, as well as the proposed Penn-Tammany Greenway. Once this happens, the Cross County Trail will live up to its name and form a continuous greenway that zigzags through the suburbs immediately north of Philadelphia, connecting Conshohocken to Newtown, and perhaps eventually, the D&L Canal Trail. This greenway, in turn, will form part of the Circuit, the much larger network of trails envisioned to criss-cross the Philadelphia metropolitan area.
In the meantime, the trail serves as a nice community greenway that passes through scenic open-space on either side of the IKEA/Home Depot strip mall. Lush vegetation muffles most of the noise from nearby I-476, and the Metroplex, another shopping complex near Plymouth Meeting, features a Barnes & Noble that is great for stopping to relax and cool off during the warm months of the year. My only caveat is that much of the signage posted on the trail is faded or vandalized, and should be replaced.