Cynwyd Heritage Trail


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Cynwyd Heritage Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Montgomery
Length: 2 miles
Trail end points: Belmont Ave. at Rock Hill Rd. and Rt. 23 at Cynwyd Rail Station
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6297615
Trail activities: Bike, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Cynwyd Heritage Trail Description

The Cynwyd Heritage Trail is a 2-mile linear park and rail-trail that connects Lower Merion Township to the Manayunk Bridge over the Schuylkill River just outside Philadelphia. The bridge ends very close to the Schuylkill River Trail, which heads into Philadelphia. All three trails are part of a growing regional trail network called The Circuit, which will one day span 750 miles.

True to its name, the Cynwyd Heritage Trail offers interpretive signage about the area’s industrial history and major landmarks. Along the way, you'll see remnants of its railroad past, such as the ruins of Barmouth Station. The tree-lined trail is fully paved with a paralleling crushed-stone pathway.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available at the southern end of the trail in Cynwyd Station Park, mid-trail at Bala Cynwyd Park (which also has restrooms), and at the north end of the trail off Belmont Avenue.

Cynwyd Heritage Trail Reviews

This trail is not very long but packed with an abundance of scenery and history.The trail used to be the Pennsylvania RR.It mainly carried freight.Later, it was commuter train. Today, the trail is straddle by West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Westminister Cemetery. When biking the trail it is worthwhile to ride in both cemeteries, Especially, in the spring, when flowering trees and greenery is in bloom. Plus, you have a great view of Manayunk. Also, there is quite a few grand mausoleums that are eye catchers. As you come out of the enclosed part of the trail (north end), you will see a great panoramic view of Manayunk. It evens gets better, when you are on top of the "Pennsey Bridge".Manayunk is like a snapshot in history. Finally, when you cross the bridge (north end) the trail ends. St. David's Church is there. Hang a hard left, ride parallel with the old Pennsey RR on your left. Ride down to the intersection and make a left, go under the two rail road bridges make another left and now you will be on the Main Street.Now, you have a choice, you can cross the street and bike the Manayunk Towpath or stay straight on Main ST. Explore the old neighborhoods,check out the old buildings and stop at some of the bars and restaurants. If you want some more history, hop onto the towpath and than the Schuylkill River Trail proceed to center city. The scenery along the way is magnificent.
Enclosing, though the trail is not long, it presents so many options for the users. Experience the scenery and history is a must.

I may be mistaken, but I think one of the reviewers of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail meant "Lower Merion Township," not Upper Merion which is out past Conshohocken. The Bala Cynwyd Park is in Lower Merion Township. Thanks to Chris Leswing, Assistant Planning Director of the twp., the employees of the Parks and Recreation Dept., the Lower Merion Commissioners, and Lower Merion Twp. taxpayers for adding the Cynwyd Heritage Trail (CHT) to scores of public parks maintained by Lower Merion Twp.

This is one of my favorites. I park at the trail head near Belmont Street. From there you have several choices. (1) Downhill to the newly restored Manayunk pedestrian bridge (which see). (2) Tour the adjacent cemetery by bike. (3) Uphill to the Cynwyd Station, which is like a trip to the 1890s. The Victorian station is still in use, with frequent trains to Center City. Best of all, there is a cute tea shop in the station, and you can sit on their porch with your cup of tea and watch the world go by.

About that cemetery -- it is much nicer than you might think. In the 19th Century there were not so many parks, so people went for Sunday picnics to cemeteries, which provided some green space, indeed beautifully landscaped parkland. Since their final resting places were on display, the Philly citizens responded by investing in some of the most spectacular funeral architecture you will ever see. They competed to build the most elaborate tombs of the finest marble for their families. And they look just as good as they did in 1890, with a grounds crew always busy mowing and weeding flowers.

There is even a small farmer's market at the trail head during the summer.


At first glance, the Cynwyd Heritage Trail and adjacent Manayunk Bridge may not appear that impressive.

Just over 2 miles in length, the trail follows a SEPTA line taken out of service in the 80's from its southern terminus at Route 23, north past Lower Merion Township Park to the bridge. From there, it veers left, wrapping back around to a trailhead at the intersection of Belmont Ave. and Rock Hill Road, forming a near-complete circle around local cemeteries.

However, once you get on the trail itself, it becomes clear that this is far more than just a short community greenway. Since the old rail line was double tracked, the southern portion is wide enough to be two trails in one; the right side, paved in asphalt, is officially for cyclists, in-line skaters, moms pushing baby strollers and wheelchair-bound individuals, while the left, crushed stone path is for pedestrians. The section near Lower Merion Township Park, which is joined to the trail via a paved access path, is lushly landscaped in the spring and summer months and the gates in the privacy fencing that separates the greenway from adjacent residences make it clear that homeowners highly value the trail.

After passing beneath Belmont Ave., the trail gradually ascends to the southwest bank of the Schuylkill River. Here, users have the option of either veering right onto the restored Manayunk Bridge or turning left and gradually descending back to the Rock Run Trailhead. Officially opened in late 2015, the concrete-arched Manayunk Bridge provides trail users with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Schuylkill River and the adjacent Schuylkill Expressway, active rail lines, remnants of the old Schuylkill Canal and the Schuylkill River Trail, all illustrating the corridor's importance as a transportation link connecting Philadelphia with the Pennsylvania interior. Birds-eye views of Manayunk and other northwest Philly neighborhoods are also visible from the bridge, and a connector path, known as the Ivy Ridge Trail, which will link the bridge, and the Cynwyd Heritage Trail, to the Schuylkill River Trail, is anticipated to be completed by mid-2016.

Although not as impressive as the Manayunk Bridge, the section of the Cynwyd Heritage Trail that descends back toward Belmont Ave. also features some impressive vistas of northwest Philly. This section is also noted for several interpretive signs that provide detailed historical accounts of the area's industrial heritage, and the ruins of one old mill are still visible from the trail. Surrounding trees provide ample shade in summer and children enjoy sliding through the leaves that pile up on the steep slopes that line this section in fall. Traffic signals allow trail users to safely cross Belmont Ave. to the Rock Hill Trailhead, which is adjacent to a CVS drugstore. Unfortunately, a lack of sidewalks along busy Belmont Ave. currently preclude users from safely making a loop (or more accurately, a figure 8) back to the southern terminus in Bala Cynwyd, which is the only drawback to an otherwise superb greenway system.

It was a great day to take a walk. Very clean. Very informative. Needs for trash cans and more benches. Will come back.

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