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At one time an important thoroughfare for commerce carried by canal barges and railroad cars in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Schuylkill River corridor now accommodates walkers, bicyclists, and others on the Schuylkill River Trail. Projected to stretch 120–130 miles when complete, the trail forms the backbone of the five-county Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area.
The trail, now covering about 71 miles, follows the route of old canals and the Pennsylvania Railroad that hauled resources out of the anthracite coalfields. Planning for the trail began in the late 1960s, with construction starting in the 1990s and continuing today. Check the website (schuylkillrivertrail.com) before setting out for information on closures or trail gaps.
The trail helps make up part of the Circuit Trails, a developing 800-mile urban trail network in Greater Philadelphia, of which 350 miles are currently complete. It’s also included in the East Coast Greenway, which one day will span 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. The Schuylkill River Trail links with other trails as it heads deep into Pennsylvania, and it’s a component of the September 11th National Memorial Trail that connects the 9/11, Flight 93, and Pentagon Memorials.
Philadelphia to Valley Forge: 25.9 miles
Beginning on the west bank of the Schuylkill River in southwest Philadelphia, the trail traverses Bartram’s Garden, the oldest botanical garden in North America. Resuming on the eastern riverbank as a paved trail, it passes through an old industrial area—Grays Ferry Crescent—that’s now a park. A pedestrian bridge to connect both sections of trail is scheduled to open in 2020.
Another paved trail segment begins about 0.5 mile upriver and continues along the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk that runs out over the river about 50 feet from the shoreline. Future plans call for extending the boardwalk downriver to the Grays Ferry Crescent segment.
At the northern end of the boardwalk, you can hop onto one of the Schuylkill River Trail’s most popular sections, the nearly 30-mile stretch from downtown Philadelphia to Valley Forge National Historical Park. Along this segment, which is nearly all paved, you’ll pass many attractions, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Boathouse Row, Fairmount Water Works, Lemon Hill Mansion, and the 2,000-acre Fairmount Park, a premier outdoor Philadelphia destination. Vendors often sell snacks along this section of trail.
A part of the 8.5-mile Wissahickon Valley Park Trail System connects with the trail about a mile north of Falls Bridge. Beyond are the former industrial towns of Manayunk, Conshohocken, and Norristown, where you’ll pass redbrick mills and old factories tucked alongside modern office buildings and restaurants. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) commuter rails parallel the Schuylkill River Trail here. Nearby SEPTA regional rail stations create an opportunity to travel by train.
Valley Forge to Parker Ford: 14.3 miles
About 4 miles north of Norristown, you’ll arrive at Valley Forge National Historical Park, the winter encampment of the Continental Army in 1777–78. You can visit the museum and historical structures by crossing the newly opened pedestrian bridge that spans the river parallel to US 422. Just north of the park, the Schuylkill River Trail offers a direct connection to the Perkiomen Trail, which follows the creek more than 20 miles north to the borough of Green Lane.
To stay on the Schuylkill River Trail, head west toward Phoenixville on a mostly crushed-stone section. In 3.6 miles, you’ll reach the village of Mont Clare, crossing the river on SR 29/Bridge Street to enter Phoenixville and Chester County. For the next 8 miles, the trail continues through town along French Creek, heads northwest through Spring City, and ends in the community of Parker Ford.
Pottstown to Reading: 20.3 miles
After a 5.5-mile gap, the trail resumes on the eastern shore of the river in Pottstown. The 20.3-mile Pottstown to Reading section, which includes a section known as the Thun Trail, is well shaded. Leaving Pottstown’s Riverfront Park as a paved trail, it switches to crushed stone entering Berks County. A 5.8-mile section beginning in Birdsboro is on road. Back on the trail, the route arrives in Reading after crossing the Schuylkill River three times.
Reading to Landingville: 11.2 miles
A 20-mile gap between Reading and Hamburg must be navigated by following a signed on-road route. A short stretch of gravel exists between Ontelaunee Township and Leesport Borough.
The final leg of the Schuylkill River Trail is known as the John Bartram Trail. Horseback riding is allowed on three disconnected gravel sections between Hamburg and Pottsville, which will be the trail’s future terminus. The longest section runs 6 miles from Hamburg to Auburn. Along the way, the scenic trail enters Schuylkill County and crosses the Appalachian Trail south of the village of Port Clinton. Another piece of trail spans 0.75 mile through a heavily wooded area east of Auburn between River Road and Market Street. The last segment of completed trail runs through Landingville, paralleling Tunnel Road and Canal Street.
To reach parking for the southern trailhead at Bartram’s Garden from I-76 W, take Exit 347 for Passyunk Ave. Turn right onto W. Passyunk Ave., and go 0.2 mile. Take a slight right onto W. Passyunk Ave., and go 1.1 miles. Turn right onto S. 61st St., and go 0.8 mile. Turn right onto Lindbergh Blvd., and go 0.5 mile. Turn right onto S. 56th St., and go 0.3 mile. The road dead-ends into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach parking for the southern trailhead at Bartram’s Garden from I-95 N, take Exit 13 to merge onto SR 291 W/Penrose Ave., and go 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Island Ave., and go 0.4 mile. Stay straight to continue on Island Ave., and go 0.5 mile. Take a slight right to stay on Island Ave., and go 0.1 mile. Turn right onto Lindbergh Blvd., and go 2.3 miles. Turn right onto S. 56th St., and go 0.3 mile. The road dead-ends into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach the Sullivans Lane trailhead at Valley Forge National Historical Park from I-76, take Exit 328A for US 202 S/US 422 W/Swedesford Road toward W. Chester/Pottstown. Follow signs for US 422 W, merge onto US 422 W, and go 2.0 miles. Take the SR 363 N/S. Trooper Road E exit toward Audubon/Trooper. Take a sharp left onto SR 3051/S. Trooper Road, go 420 feet, and take a slight left to stay on SR 3051/S. Trooper Road. Go 0.2 mile, and turn right onto Sullivans Lane. Turn right into the trailhead parking lot. A spur in the back of the parking lot leads to the trail. Turn left to head north toward Parker Ford. Turn right to head south toward Philadelphia.
To reach parking in Reading from I-76, take Exit 286 toward US 222/Reading/Ephrata, and continue onto Col. Howard Blvd. 0.7 mile. Turn right to merge onto US 222 N, and go 12.2 miles. Continue onto US 422 E, and go 0.3 mile. Take the exit to stay on US 422 E toward Potts-town, and go 1.6 miles. Exit onto Bus. US 422 E/Penn Ave. toward Penn St./Reading, and go 0.4 mile. Turn right onto S. Second St., and go 0.1 mile; then turn right onto Franklin St., and go about 0.1 mile. Turn right onto S. Front St., and go 0.2 mile. Turn left into the parking lot.
To reach the trailhead in Hamburg from I-78, take Exit 30 toward Hamburg. Head south on N. Fourth St. Go 0.3 mile, and turn right onto Franklin St. Go 0.2 mile, and look for parking straight ahead.
With more gaps being closed every year, the 40-year goal of constructing a continuous, multi-use trail that will run the length of the Schuylkill River from the coal country of the Poconos southeast to the marshes of South Philly is close to being a reality.
As of mid-2019, over 71 miles of trail have been built, enough to classify the system as the unified Schuylkill River Trail, as opposed to a series of stand-alone greenways regarded as separate projects.
Rather than rehash the description above, I'll just note that, like other long-distance greenways, the Schuylkill River Trail has a lot to offer for hikers, cyclists, parents pushing young kids in strollers and roller and inline skating on the paved sections. Most of the trail follows old rail corridors or canal towpaths, ensuring a level trip with few slopes, as well as numerous reminders of the river's history as a major transportation route, a roll that can still be seen today by its close proximity to major highways like Routes 61, 422 and I-76 and active rail lines that freight trains often rumble along. Although most of the mills and other factories that used the coal and lumber shipped down the river for raw materials and sent finished product to the port of Philadelphia are now gone, their legacy also lives on whether as ruined hulks, historical markers or as repurposed apartment houses or office buildings. Some of the many historical sites on or near the trail include the vintage car museum and Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, an old canal tunnel turned rock cut south of Landingville, the railroad museum in Hamburg, Daniel Boone's birthplace near Douglassville, Morlatton Village, a Swedish village that was one of the firstthe Phoenix Iron Works museum in the old foundry in Phoenixville, a restored segment of canal in Mont Clare, Valley Forge National Historical Park, an old movie studio just east of Valley Forge, the Philadelphia Art Museum and Bartram's Garden, the oldest botanical gardens in the US, along with many others.
As one would also expect, the trail passes through a wide array of landscapes on its route. From the lush, remote forests of Schuylkill County, to the rural farmlands of Berks County, to the more suburban Montgomery and Chester counties and finally heavily urban Philadelphia, as well as smaller cities Reading and Pottstown and numerous towns along the route, the trail offers users a microcosm of Pennsylvania.
The trail is paved with crushed stone on most of its rural and remote segments from its northwest terminus outside Pottsville to the eastern end of a restored canal near Oaks, and asphalt in Reading, Pottstown and on most of the stretch from Oaks to its current southeast end at Bartram's Garden in South Philly. No review of the trail would be complete without mentioning the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk segment, which extends over the river itself in Center City Philadelphia.
Although most of its surface is smooth and user-friendly, some of the shorter segments, including the one that parallels Route 61 just south of Pottsville and a little-used one near Felix Dam Park in the north Reading suburbs, are in need of improvement. The westernmost segment of the Thun segment of the trail from Route 183 to Reading Community College, although paved with asphalt, also needs repaired and better overall maintenance. The subpar status of these sections of trail. along with vandalism in parts of Reading and the fact that some of the remaining gaps in the trail are not easily detoured, prevents me from giving the trail a 4 or 5 star rating.
Fortunately, efforts continue to close these gaps and it looks like the trail may be completed in the next decade or so. Plans are currently under way to complete the long-stalled restoration of an old RR trestle south of Auburn in the next year or two, a pedestrian bridge over a steep gap over Route 724 east of Monocacy is currently in the planning stage, a trail bridge spanning the Schuylkill River next to the new Route 422 bridge east of Pottsville has been completed in anticipation of constructing the "missing link" between Pottstown and Parker Ford in 2020 and work is currently under way on the repurposing of an old RR swinging bridge over the river in South Philadelphia, which will connect the Greys Ferry Crescent and Bartram's Mile sections to one another.
In addition to bringing the Schuylkill River's status as a transportation corridor into the 21st century by connecting numerous towns and cities, the trail has also helped revitalize the economy of a region that was hard hit by the decline of steel, coal mining and other heavy industries in the last few decades. With connections to the East Coast Greenway and future Schuylkill-Susquehanna Passage and 9/11 trails, it has the potential to be an eastern PA counterpart to the Great Allegheny Passage.
Well maintained, wide and easy to use if you want a good long distance trail.
We rode the Douglassville to Pottstown section of the trail yesterday. Most of the trail was in shade which was welcome in the heat. The Berks County portion is hard gravel and easy to ride. When you cross into Montgomery County the trail is macadam, but as a previous writer mentioned, it is marred by numerous raised sections, probably due to tree roots. This is the reason for a 4 star rating. When we ended our ride in Pottstown park, I was excited to discover a Little Lending Library and picked out a book to read. The Douglassville trailhead is located in Old Morlatton Village. Not only is this a quiet trailhead, but there are several historic buildings with descriptive placards to read.
New macadam surface from Conshohocken to Spring Mills, removing san area of washboarding, and indications of imminent resurfacing from Conshohocken to near Norrristown, so from Valley Forge to near Manayunk it is a very smooth ride. (site doesn't seem to offer an chance to edit a review.)
I wasn't able to ride it for a number of years, but now, what nice improvements are there to be found. From Norristown to Valley Forge, mainly new macadam surface, plus the addition of several spots of racks of bike repair tools. And, the water fountain is about 1.2 miles from Valley Forge Park. There are areas of washboard type macadam around the Conshohocken area, and from Spring Mill to where it branches down to the Schuylkill River, relatively new macadam. Once you leave the tow path in Manayunk, it sort of tosses you into the street, which is crowded, so take the sidewalks, giving care for pedestrian traffic. Once you hit the Fairmount Park area, relatively decent trail surface, but expect heavy traffic all the way to what is now the end of the trail in Philadelphia. I take away one star due to the heavy Philadelphia traffic, and right now the detour around the Art Museum due to construction and confusing signage. The entire route is relatively level, so easy riding.
Since the upper end (above Philadelphia) is far less crowded, one may encounter cycling groups that travel at high speeds and can be annoying if they think they own the trail.
I love this trail for many reasons. I grew up in Manayunk. I played, fished, and explored the banks of the Schuylkill River. In my older years, I got into biking again. I read that they converted a lot of railroad tracks to a trail on the Schuylkill River. I was really excited. I rode the trail in 2015 for the first time. I was like a little kid in a candy store. I could not wait to see what was around the next bend and so on.
The trail is mainly level with little ascents. The trail is mostly asphalt with some crushed gravel on the Manayunk Towpath. There is a " GAP" when you get to Manayunk in the trail. Just stay on the Main St, you will see signs to get on the Towpath. When traveling in Manayunk be careful because the area in the summer is usually crowded.
This trail is truly the Grand Lady of the Schuylkill River Trails. There is so much beauty and history to see. First, biking into Philadelphia showcases some of the most interesting sites along the Schuylkill River such as the rowers, boat house row, The Philadelphia Art Museum and the city skyline etc. Secondly,going west of Philadelphia there are a lot options you can take. Recommended, if you need a break, Manayunk has a lot of eateries. In this area, there are other trails to explore. The Manayunk Trail Bridge is a must. The view is magnificent. Some of the other trails are Lincoln Drive,Cynwyd,Pencyoyd and Wissahickon Valley Park. Finally, after leaving the towpath you will get back on the Schuylkill trail at Shawmont. There the trail really opens up. There are other trails that connect,such as CrossCounty and Perkiomen.
Enclosing, I thank all the people who made these trails available. Even though its wintertime, as I right this review, I am getting the " Itch".
Was in Pottstown for an event decided to take a ride while there.
Parked at Grosstown Road. Rode into Pottstown River Front Park. Trail was paved but rough because of tree root growth. Then rode west to the Main Street crossing. The trail west was mostly gravel in good condition.
Montgomery County portion of trail needs maintenance to the pavement. Tree roots are making the ride uncomfortable and possibly hazardous. Restrooms? Are there any?
Overall a good ride.
There is a short spur trail, the Schuylkill Highlands Trail. East of Birdsboro, just after crossing PA 724 at the Fork and Ale restaurant the trail is on the right, there is a sign at the trail junction. The trail climbs via switchbacks through mostly open fields and ends at Crusher Road. There are great views to reward you for the climb. The trail is wide and smooth and climbs at the maximum grade for an ADA trail. You can see the trail on the satellite view of the Thun section of the SRT.
After our recent rains, this trail has gotten soupy and hazardous in places. Be especially caution of these wet areas especially in the shaded areas on upper half of the trail. These spots could really benefit from an application of crushed stone. Otherwise this is a fun and friendly rail-trail.
Nice and well maintained trail for an easy relaxing walk or short bike ride.
I have been riding this trail for a couple of years now. The trail is flat and puts you along some very nice scenery, river views from Oaks Pa down to the Philly Art museum. The trail connects to Martin Luther King blvd in Phila. which is closed to cars on the weekends, providing a nice wide street to ride on safely, its’ fantastic. It’s nice to go from suburban to urban down into Manayunk and through to center city. You can park at one of the many trail heads along the way and ride a good number of miles non-stop and there are some great places to stop for coffee or a craft beer along the way. That’s the good.
This past weekend I went for the first time this season and I found it getting a bit more dangerous than usuall. There’s quite a few folks out there that have falsely convinced themselves that the Tour De France is in their future and this trail provides their own personal training ride. The trail for the most part does not accommodate 3 or 4 riders across in a safe manner. That being the case there are many times where the fast and furious riders try to overtake slower riders while there are folks coming toward them in the opposite direction creating a 3 across situation on a narrow path. There are also the groups of riders who “need” to ride 2 and 3 across to chat and refuse to go single file when other riders approach in the opposite direction. I have been forced onto the lawn a few times last year. All of this behavior is at best rude and at worse dangerous. I have seen collisions that have sent people off to the hospital that could have been avoided with a little bit of behavioral modification toward the courteous side. If you’re out there “training” you can spare a second or 2 to apply the breaks and or go single file to avoid a dangerous situation.
This site promotes the rails-to-trails conservancy which attempts to raise money for these types of trails. These trails can be great and worthwhile benefiting many people in the long run by promoting a healthier lifestyle that has a cost benefit to the entire society. However if there are accidents that leave people bloody and in need of an emergency room tax dollars and donation support for this will dry up. The trails (this one in particular) could benefit from some signage outlining proper etiquette and behavior. It would be money well spent.
we decided to try out this trail and found that is absolutely wonderful. not many hills at all which was great. it was busy at times but not bad at all. will definitely make this a favorite of ours for weekend rides.
Had a terrific ride on this trail yesterday. Early autumn weather was perfect. The parking was great, road intersections very well marked and designed. Trail surface was ideal.
We did the north half, from Cromby trailhead to the northern point in Parker Ford. I'd hoped to see more of the Schuylkill River from the trail, but it's mostly hidden. We stopped a few times so that I could climb to a spot for a photo.
My first day on this trail( august 19,2016) with my wife, started at valley forge and by chance were there for the first ride over the new bridge connecting valley forge park with the set. Great access to surface roads to take a break and get a drink and easy on to continue on the trails. we did 20 miles and even though it was 90 degrees we know in the fall we will be using this trail a lot.
I'm on this section of the SRT 4-5 times a week and always love it. Normally in the morning for a run, or on weekends on my bike. More riverwalks like this could be added to the SRT. It's a gem and huge bonus to the city recreation scene.
I'm a frequent user of the trail from the newly constructed riverwalk just off South Street to Valley Forge and/or Wissahickon Valley Park. Since I have lived close to the trail for 20 years, I am on it to run, bike, walk and just hang out. It's a terrific spot and connects to many different parts of the city. I never take it for granted as there is always great wildlife sightings, fun and interesting activities, and friends on the trail. Use it, love it and enjoy it.
I've been riding this trail since the mid-90s, I think. I was just on it this past Sunday. The best time to be on it is early morning. It does get crowded the later you ride.
The good: It's clean, easy to follow and few spots where we have to stop. It's absolutely beautiful in many spots. Even going through Conshohocken is a nice site. Cars seem to have the right of way wherever the path crosses, so beware.
The bad: People. I've almost hit kids because parents bring their 2 year olds up there on a BigWheel. Also, there are cyclists who rode two up, while having a conversation, unable to hear my 2 calls to pass. The third I had to yell and they copped an attitude.
It is absolutely one of my most favorite trails to ride.
Did the trail today, the grass is trimmed and the trail is in excellent condition , I only wish it were longer. Looking forward to returning in the fall. Oh, and lots of good places to eat in the area.
This trail could use a good steam rolling. I use it often, but I have to say it's surface is very loose and sandy, like riding your bike on the beach! I have been with other riders who have wiped out when their bike wheels sunk in the sand. It's a shame really. I know this trail section would get a lot more use by riders and runners alike, if it was paved. Lets face it, as other another reviewer wrote, there is nothing much to see on this route anyways. I also was happy to see the hilly sections near Phoenixville get paved, it definitely makes for a safer ride and run. I hope the trail builders consider a different base material, or a lot less of it, when the new section is completed from Parkersford to Pottstown. For now though, it is better than nothing, and if I can get a thousand people a day to ride it, maybe two grooves could be cut for a safer smoother ride!
This is my favorite trail in PA, but it's not 9.6 miles. It's 6 miles but wonderful nonetheless
I reviewed this trail earlier and rated it very high! But we just rode it again for the second time this year and sadly I have to down grade my rating. It appears that nobody is doing any maintenance to the trail any longer. There has always been an narrow section nearer the end of the trail but you could always ride on the grass to make room for oncoming bikes, but now that grass is at least 3ft high on both sides of the trail and impossible to use for riding. The trail also has spots that need repaired with gravel. The Kiosk in the parking lot appears to have had the legs sawn off and is just leaning on the ground. The trail is in dire need of TLC and it has been like this for at least 2 months if not longer.
We started at the trailhead in Reading. Very urban here - parking at this spot is iffy and the only real option is an abandoned parking lot at the bottom of a dilapidated neighborhood. The trail is in really rough shape for a while and several homeless people were camped out. Once we got downtown it was a bit better but even then it is a trail bike route here. We had hybrids and it was ok, but much better trails exist. We only rode about 5 miles before we turned around and found another trail in the area.
If you do try this trail from Reading - park downtown and skip the first mile.
rode this trail 3/12/16, it was in great condition. A recent improvement was the paving of the short hill just north of Phoenixville.
It was a good walk - though I was a little disappointed as to how little I saw of the river. I did the stretch South from the Penn Avenue Bridge in Reading to Birdsboro. This trail is excellent underfoot though, and provides a good work out. The industrial heritage on view - for example the old power station - are points of interest.
I would say it's probably best on a bike - and if you are looking for a scenic walk, then this walk has its moments, but is not amongst the real stars.
It was an exceptionally mild December day today. There quite a few runners, hikers and bikers on the trail. The real surprise was the cool holiday decorations added to the mile markers. A very clever person added garland and miniature Santa dolls to the markers and decoys. Very cool.
Rode from Valley Forge to Philadelphia and back... Nice ride... Great scenery.
Even though I volunteer with maintenance on another section of the overall Schuylkill River Trail, the Bartram section is my favorite. Yes, it is 6 miles from the main parking lot to the fence at the Auburn bridge, but if you read the literature closely it says 8 or 9 "disconnected miles". There are actually another few miles on the other side of Auburn which might be connected some day. But there is ample opportunity for additional miles by going the other direction from the main parking lot on Kernsville Dam Road. There is the very lightly used dead end macadam road down to the dam and also a mile and a half trail (just behind the Job Johnnie) that goes to the edge of downtown Hamburg and on to the Reading Heritage Rail Museum. Just beyond the bridge over the Schuylkill River there is also another option to your left along a park and the river. The best things about the 6 mile section are that there are absolutely no road crossings and the grade is virtually flat. I always find the surface to be in fine condition no matter whet the weather has been. There had been a few drainage issues when the trail was first opened but they apparently have all been remedied.
I understand that bicyclists want to book down the path which runs from valley forge to the Phila. Art Museum, but would it be too much to ask for you to stop when you see a pedestrian crossing?! I have had a whistle blown at me because I apparently did not cross the path fast enough. Cyclists rarely even make eye contact as they zoom past, assuming that I should stop for THEM! This kind of behaviour does not reflect well on our area.
My wife and I recently purchased hybrid bikes and have been on a mission to complete every trail around us. This trial is very flat and very scenic the entire way. Almost every half mile there was a bench or picnic table and we stopped about half way and ate a packed lunch we brought with us. Overall it was a good experience. The only thing is that its says the trail is about 8 miles long, but we got to mile 6 and there was a large fence and the trail just ended at the Schuylkill River with no way across.
It was a nice trail and we much enjoyed it but it is not 8 miles long. More like 6
So far a favorite just couldn't finish the trail. Don't think we had that much more to go. Beautiful trail with excellent scenery. Started at the Pottstown end which is a great little park. Can't think of anything negative to say about it at all. So far is one of the best we have ridden.
I disliked this trail for several reasons.
The first was it was so over crowded with rude people. Something I've never encountered on any trail in eastern PA or NJ. On every trail I've been on other riders were friendly and helpful. This trail was different. It was packed with self absorbed riders who felt they were the ONLY ones on the trail which they owned.
Next it was such a pathetically easy trail that calling it a "trail" is a lie. How about referring to it as a paved sidewalk winding through some of the ugliest urban settings ever.
What a shame other trails aren't given the attention this one is.
It was filled with the self absorbed from Philadelphia.
Any trail is better than this paved poor excuse for getting back to nature joke.
Just starting riding again, and for some dumb reason I start with round trip on this trail.....omg, I survived, barely but had a great time, the trails were excellent, missed a couple signs so I added another four miles, was a little uncomfortable crossing a couple big roads but all in all a great start to riding again!
Trail is really well maintained and you'll get to see alot of the area leading up to Philadelphia. Valley Forge park is really historic. The trail will take you through little towns like Conshohocken and Manayunk and Kelly Drive which is located right next to the river.
The trail will end at the Philadelphia Art Museum but you can keep going along the river into the city.
Trail is crowded on the weekend with runners/biked etc but a great way to see the area around Philly.
I live in the area so I'm on the trail all the time. Lots of little coffee shops and restaurants as well. Enjoy!
Should be 5 stars, but the "new" piece already needs work. Rode it for the first time the other day. From Cromby westward, this is a fantastic trail. Nice and flat, reasonably quiet and isolated, and hardly any walkers meandering four across the entire trail. The crossing at Bridge St. in Spring City can be hairy, but they have installed a light, and the motorists were very good about stopping.
Then I came back and explored the new section from Cromby to the Low Bridge near the Foundry building. Just east of the Cromby trailhead is a pretty nasty hill that has already significantly eroded the trail. MTBs may like it, but this newbie cruiser thought it was downright dangerous. After crossing Fillmore St, there's a pretty steep downhill--not surprising, since you're essentially going from the high point in town to the low point in about a mile. However, significant erosion is already happening here too, leaving really deep ruts. These areas will need to be paved. Ironically, the remainder was very nice, flat and paved. Had they reversed the paved and stoned pieces, they'd have been fine. Still, very enjoyable and recommended--especially westward.
Rode this trail for first time today. The surface was nice and smooth; very few ruts or problems. Very scenic ride with views of the Schuykill River.
The path runs through the forest and will be completely shaded during the summer.
It was a beautiful spring day and there were a number of riders, walkers and joggers on trail. Quite a few dogs but all were leashed and seemed accustomed to bikers. The trail is wide at the southern end, near Hamburg, and easy to move around walkers, joggers and dogs. The trail narrows at the northern end, but, the trail is used mostly by bikers in that area.
The trail ends at the "Auburn Bridge." The bridge is in sad shape and would require rebuilding of the deck to allow the trail to continue northward.
As is, the trail is a nice 6 mile ride from the trail head at Hamburg to the Auburn Bridge. Recommend for anyone to enjoy.
a nice run. It looks like there are mile markers every half mile, but some were missing at 46 and 47.
Had a great time on this trail. The scenery was sweet. Rowing races made that area congested, nice trail to relax and enjoy a slower ride and take in the sights. Loved the new boardwalk. Will be coming back to complete this trail.
Just the ideas in philly to promote bicycle transportation. Loved this along with the portion from manayunk to here.
It's only about 2 miles long, but an important segment linking downtown Phoenixville to the Crombly Rd trailhead seems about 95% complete. I ran on it the other day, and except for some parts that will probably be paved and would have been soft for bicycles, it was completely passable. This segment replaces a very hilly and high traffic road connection.
Named in honor of a local conservationist, the Thun Trail segment of the Schuylkill River Trail connects two major cities on the middle Schuylkill; Reading and Pottstown.
Although only 18 miles long, the multi-use trail takes users through a diverse array of environments. Most of its route follows abandoned rail lines, and two segments are "rails with trails," paralleling active freight lines.
The trail's western terminus is just upstream from the Reading Area Community College. After passing under the Penn Ave. bridge, the paved, urban trail crosses the grounds of the college campus and Reading's Riverfront Park. This section is noted for the ultramodern buildings of the campus as well as murals painted on an old RR bridge that was moved to the site. A small meditation garden is also located off the trail.
After bearing right at the junction with the Neversink Connector Trail, users cross the Schuylkill River via an old steel trestle. Although both the trestle itself and the modern viaduct that carries the Route 422 Expressway down the southwest bank of the river are impressive works of architecture, the segment from here southeast to Old Wyomissing Road is marred by the presence of graffiti and shady-looking people, creating an uninviting atmosphere (I can understand why some female reviewers felt spooked passing through here). The surface of the trail also changes from asphalt to crushed stone on the southwest side of the bridge.
Though still in the Reading city limits, the trail enters more suburban territory southeast of Old Wyomissing Road (users have the option of passing under the adjacent railroad tunnel, then following the Wyomissing Creek Trail to the Reading Museum and continuing deep into the city's western suburbs). A well-constructed pedestrian bridge carries users over Lancaster Ave., and while the trail is never far from busy Route 422 on much of this segment, surrounding woodlands screen out most of the noise.
After leaving Reading, the trail passes high above the Schuylkill River on two restored, concrete trestles on either side of Poplar Neck. In addition to providing spectacular views of the river and nearby Neversink Mountain, these bridges also look out onto both Route 422 to the north and an active, Norfolk Southern freight line to the south, providing excellent photo opportunities. Though largely wooded, the section from Poplar Neck to Route 724 in Ridgewood also passes a power plant, an abandoned landfill, incinerator and a quarry, all attesting to the river corridor's industrial past. Also, while Reading may no longer be the prominent industrial and transportation hub it once was, the trail's proximity to the aforementioned Route 422 and Norfolk Southern rail lines, as well as I-176, are clear reminders that these roles have not completely disappeared.
East of Ridgewood (where users are urged to use caution while crossing busy Route 724), the trail enters the countryside of southern Berks County. Users are urged to descend the stairs at the bridge over a small, unnamed creek and observe the impressive masonry, before continuing east to Gibraltar. With a little luck, a freight train may come rumbling down the active RR line that parallels the trail for much of this segment.
A signed, on-road route guides users through a 4-mile gap between Gibraltar and Birdsboro. The trail resumes behind the athletic fields off Armorcast Road on the town's east end, with the nearby, now-abandoned smokestacks attesting to Birdsboro's past as a mill town. After passing behind a nearby residential neighborhood, the trail turns through the woods to the Union Twp. Recreation Area, where it forms the southern part of a circumfrential walking path. The old Schuylkill River Canal, now just a swampy ditch, parallels the segment through the Rec. Area.
The trail turns abruptly to the right at the entrance to the Union Twp. Rec. Area (do not go straight or you will circle back around the park), crosses Route 724 in the small hamlet of Monocacy, then heads back into the woods. Caution is advised at this crossing, as well as a second about a mile to the southeast. Steep slopes on either side of the second crossing make it particularly dangerous, though the dense woodlands that line the trail for most of its length from Birdsboro to Douglassville provide welcome relief from the hot sun and make it ideal for warm days in spring and summer.
The trail crosses the Schuylkill River one more time west of Douglassville. Though not as high as the trestles at Poplar Neck, the remote location of this bridge makes it a great place to stop and enjoy nature. Heading further east, the trail follows another active rail line, providing more opportunities to "rail fan" and photograph trains. Another highlight of this segment is Morlatton village, a colonial-era settlement that widely believed to be the first European-American town in Berks County.
The rural nature of the trail abruptly ends after crossing the border into Montgomery County. The sometimes rough and uneven stone surface again gives way to smooth asphalt, and factories can be seen around the Grosstown Road trailhead. Mostly light industrial now, the presence of large concrete pads east of Old Reading Pike hints that there were once larger factories in this area. The presence of young vegetation poking through deteriorating concrete floors of now-razed factories gives this area a surreal feel.
After passing under Route 100, the trail enters Pottstown, though the shaded trees in Riverfront Park do not give the impression of being in an urban area. The trail currently ends near the intersection of College Dr. and Hanover Street, though a signed, on-street route leads to a small park off Queen St. in the town's (admittedly uninviting) east end. Eventually, the next segment of the Schuylkill River Trail should directly connect with the Thun Trail in this area.
Despite passing through some rough-looking areas near its west end, the Thun Trail is an excellent, multi-use rail trail that connects two southeast PA cities and forms a vital link in the continuous greenway that will one day extend from Pottsville to Philadelphia. In addition to linking several local parks and recreation areas, the trail also forms the backbone of the region's burgeoning trail network, with more extensions planned in the near future.
Trail was great, flat and clean. We rode round trip from Oaks to the Art Museum 46 miles total. Good food in Manayunk, great scenery along the trail
My wife and I live near Reading so this trail is one we ride frequently. It's easy to get to and the trail is always well groomed. It's plenty wide enough to easily share with hikers and other riders although it's rarely crowded. Our favorite times to ride are from mid-June through mid-July when the white rhododendrons are blooming along the trail and in the fall when the weather is cool and the autumn colors make the ride extra special. Don't let the occasional whitetail startle you as it leaps across the trail in front of you.
Flat wide trail great surface for biking and well maintained. Rode it for the first time in August 2014 and will be back! Great trail for train lovers as Port Clinton has a wonderful rail yard and station. My only complaint is it needs to be extended past the 6 miles. It would be awesome to ride across the trestle bridge that is fenced off and is the end of the trail now.
Beautiful!!! Lighting throughout the trail would make it feel safer!
I started my run on the Angelica Creek Trail and headed towards the Thun Trail. I made the right on the Thun Trail (I think that's heading west and then north). Very quickly the trail took me into areas I was not comfortable running in as a female running by myself. I sent my husband a text letting him know exactly where I was on the GPS and that I was turning around to head back towards the Angelica Creek Trail. Keep in mind that just last weekend, I ran in South Philly and never felt as nervous as I did on that portion of the Thun Trail.
Once I returned to the area where it meets up with the Angelica Creek Trail, I decided to give the east/south direction a try. Wow, what a difference! That section was great ~ the trail was in excellent condition, went through nice areas of Berks County. I would say the only downside to that portion of the trail was the lack of restrooms/porta-potties.
This is a really nice trail. We visit this trail 2 to 3 times a week. Very scenic! You can watch the train yard in Port Clinton. And if you hit it just right - you can watch the train pull out and go under the bridge of the trail. In the evening we see deer crossing the trail. Really nice to get out after a long day. Well maintained and a nice 12 mile round trip from hamburg.
We started at the trailhead near Cabela's and rode the entire six-mile length to where the trail currently ends at the old railroad bridge. The entire trail's in great shape. A fantastic 12-mile, round-trip ride.
First trail ride since getting back in to biking. We had a good time on the trail. Got to see the other side of routes traveled by car, with no traffic. Have plans to ride other trails in next couple of weeks.
Trail was great, except for a small section in Manayunk which is under repair (just take Main Street for 1/4 mile to get around. There is also a new place near Conshohocken (on the trail) to get a bite or a drink!
I have traveled, and I can say this is a wonderful addition to Berks County. Those of you in fear for your life, stop watching so much tv. I have walked every section of this trail many times, and there is nothing to be afraid of. You have more chance of getting car-jacked. The experience of being outside on trails with no cars to fight is a gift. Sure there are some places where there are ruts and run-off spots but this is nature, folks, not some man-made pristine manufactured environment. So, come on, check the map, find a trail head, park the car, and get moving. You'll be glad you did.
The trail is well maintained and provides a nice scenic ride. The paved areas are nice and smooth and you can get some speed up. Transition areas of the trail need some work, but over-all not bad. The major concern is the horseback riders. Why is it that dog owners are required to clean up after their animals, but horseback owners can leave a knee high pile of crap and not think twice about it? Also when the horse is taken to to a gallop, it tears the trail up. There are sections of the trail that have to be ridden standing because they feel like, as I heard someone describe it accurately, "rumble strips". So much potential, but horseback riders, show some common decency and clean up after you animal!
I was visiting family in the Phoenixville area in July of 2013 and I read reviews regarding this trail. I started at the Oaks trailhead and made it to the art museum in Phila. The weekend I rode was great, a bit warm but I am from FL so no big deal. A regatta was taking place on the river as I got closer to the city. In total it was a 55 mi trip and well worth it. Many people were on the trail and I enjoyed some conversation and healthy challenges by keeping up with some bicyclist on the trail
Back in late June I did this trail from Spring City at Old Schuylkill rd to Phoenixville at Township line rd where there is a new Trail Head and a great parking lot that looks like it has a lot of shade. This is not a great section of trail but when it is done on both ends it will be a great addition to the Schuylkill River Trail. I would say that this 5 plus miles of trail are family friendly as there is only one cross road that is a little tricky and that is Bridge st Spring City. There is a lots of shade and it is a flat ride. Oh yes the trail head at Township Line road dose have a port-a-potty. I did talk to a couple of locals and was told the section of trail going towards Pottstown is another year and a half to two years away as the bridge over the Schuylkill and route 422 is now under construction. My first plan was to ride the road over to the Thun Tail but I was running a little late so I drove over and am glad I as the six mile dose not look like it is bike friendly.
Nice packed gravel trail. No problems on my road bike. Start by Cabella's. Six miles to the closed bridge and then back. I hear you can go south into town, but we opted for Cabella's A/C. Even on a day when temps were in 90's, we were cool by the river, in the shade, with our man-made breeze (our peddling). Just wish the trail was longer.
Support rails to trails so we can finish the bridge!!
This is a great trail. I rode it twice this year so far, once from Valley Forge to Philly and back and today from Oaks to Philly and back. Weekends the trail can get somewhat crowded at certain areas as is the parking areas. Manayunk can get a little tricky and you have to ride the Main Street.
I ride the Schuylkill River trail every summer from Valley Forge Park to Philadelphia. Subtle improvements in the trail in 2012 make it safer for the whole family. New pavement, handrails, and bridges along the way have increased the appeal. My 21 mile ride each way makes my visit to Pennsylvania a great time.
James - Orlando, FL
The trail is quite level, and there will be walkers, recreational bicyclists, and speed bicyclists encountered. It is trivial to go 20 mph without breaking a sweat.
I will start from the Betzwood Bridge, at the border of Valley Forge NHP. All macadam, and less busy then the lower end. There are a few road stretches, but they are not well used roads, and I never encountered traffic. The roads access private property.
Between Valley Forge and Norristown, there is a small rest area with a drinking fountain.
There are also benches along the entire route.
There are mile makers, and also mile posts at regular intervals. Between Norristown and Spring Mill, there are three abandoned RR track crossings, with the trail set up for a 90 degree crossing, and rubber cushions.
From Spring Mill to Shawmont, it is fairly new macadam, and it ends at a street crossing, then commuter rail tracks, and a short section (about 25') of cobblestones. You may want to walk your bike for part of it. (Total distance of about one block.)
Then, until Manyunk center, is is a combination of fine packed gravel, some boardwalk and some macadam. The trail abruptly departs from along the canal tow path into traffic for about a mile or so. There is a bike lane, but I ride the sidewalk. Not much pedestrian traffic, and much safer.
Even in wet weather, this section is no big deal.
Along the tow path you will encounter more traffic.
You can ride the sidewalk down past the theater complex, and the bus terminal, then hang a right onto the trail along East River Drive.
Then you are in Fairmont Park, all macadam, and much more traffic, both pedestrian and bicycle.
If you want to make time, do the upper end north of Shawmont. You can ride into the city proper, past the Art Museum, and ends at Walnut Street.
They are working to get a work around for the street section in Manyunk, as well as extending it past Walnut Street.
As a biker with an allergic reaction to being knocked off by nutty car drivers this trail is perfect. You can go out for a long (or shorter) ride on a great surface without the fear of being killed.
If only there were more trails like this!
One great ride on a great fall day. Mile for mile it is one of the very best trails I have done. I only did from the Kernsville Dam at Hamburg to the closed bridge a 6 mile ride up. When I got back to the parking lot and talked to a local I found out about a detour where I could have done the whole trail but it was to late in the day. He did tell me that there is a very big climb going and coming back though. This trail has a lot to offer, a great surface, Mile Markers every half mile, Park benches, a great canopy and great scenery. It is to bad that they just can not get the bridge re planked. I did this on a very old Mt Bike but it could be done on almost any kind of bike. It is family friendly and because of its short distance and not much of a grade it would be a great trail for a young family.
This is a very nice run. Up and back from the parking lot near the basin monument is approximately 6 miles (according to GPS). If I am not mistaken, you can probably run into Hamburg, cross the river to you hit the "Steel something or other" trail head, then make a left and follow the trail signs to the rail yard museum.
Started at Kernsville Dam Road. The roadbed is very compact and smooth riding. Rode to where the fence is up at the curved railroad bridge (approx. 6 miles) to this point. The scenery is great and when passing above Port Clinton you can look down at the Reading and Northern's engine facilities and offices. The grade is hardly noticable so even the rail trail beginner will have no problems. I hope they will complete more of the trail in the near future. The plus here is when your done riding the trail you have a wide choice of where to eat.
It's a shame this trail has to be located where it is. Coming from the Reading end we looked to park at the trail head on Angstadt Ln, which turned out to be inaccessible due to bridge construction. So we moved on to one behind several businesses. When we pulled in there was only one other vehicle, whose occupants appeared to be doing something other than planing to enjoy the trail. Weed? crackheads? I don't know they just looked sketchy, and I wasn't leaving my truck there. So we moved on once again. We finally came across another trail head behind some burger joint/bar and it was actually really nice, it appeared fairly new, and best of all no crackheads in sight. After we unloaded we headed out a trail from the parking lot, while somewhat narrow it still seemed nice. Turned out it was about a half mile loop that came out the other end of the parking lot. We realized the actual trail was across street. When we headed in that direction we noticed a guy coming out of the restroom carrying a bottle in a brown paper bag. It didn't look like gatorade either. We chose to head off and hope for the best. The trail was fairly nice although a bit narrow and doesn't show much use. I found it odd that on a fairly nice day we only came across about five or six other people on the ride the whole way to Pottstown. Bottom line is the closer to Pottstown you get the safer you feel. There's just an uncomfortable feel to the trail which is a real shame as it's a nice level, smooth, trail with some scenic sights along it. If you think I'm being a little overly critical regarding the security on the trail I'll just add that in today's paper there was a brief article about a body of a man who was found shot to death on the trail. I don't usually like to pack heat with me on bike ride my friends. But if I do it'd be on this trail. Stay safe my friends.
Took the mountain bikes out tonight from the Pottstown trailhead to the 724 crossing near Shed Rd. The trail is in great condition after a pretty heavy rain earlier this morning. Maintained an easy 10mph average with minimal effort. Encountered a handful of bikers and joggers along the way.
The Hamburg section is closed off 6 miles in the map is not accurate so this trail is really in 3 sections not just 2. The bridge needs to be replanked and the other side needs maintenance also. But besides that I enjoyed riding these trails. I prefer the section from landingville to auburn and a short road ride to the auburn trail head. The Hamburg section is nice and it also links to the Appalachian trail. The sections that are open and maintained are very nice.
Very nice ride the only issue I have is where the trails split there needs to be signs to tell you where to get back on. I rode from landing ville to auburn and after jumping on the second section in auburn the trail ends and I could not find the next trail head. The map shows a continuous trail from auburn to Hamburg. So today I'm driving down to Hamburg to ride the trail backwards and see where they connect. Also there is another trail in auburn that cuts off from the bartram trail and runs back in the direction you come in from auburn on the opposite side of the river along the railroad tracks. I am going to investigate that section this weekend.
My wife and I rode a short section of the trail, from the Betzwood Trailhead to Norristown and back, on 27 May 2012. The trail is in excellent condition, and we had a great ride. It was quite busy, with a variety of walkers, runners, casual bikers and more serious bikers. We look forward to returning for a longer ride toward Philadelphia.
A great trail; gentle grade, nice surface. Mile markers and benches. For much of this section you have nice views of the river, at least before the trees leaf out, and you are away from roads and buildings.
Note I said views of the river: the trail meanders delightfully along the valley but far, far above the river, and not only would it be a steep scramble to get down to it, most of the trail is private land on both sides and signs request one to be polite and not trespass. If you want to dangle your toes in the river ride north on the public road from the Basin parking area toward the dam and lake; looking down from the trail (which, even at that point, rapidly becomes elevated) there appear to be quite a few places to pull over right next to the banks.
Map notes: As of this writing the map on this site shows the trail open north from the Basin parking area all the way to Auburn/Market Street. This is incorrect: heading north the trail dead-ends at a river bridge at the 6 mile marker. No idea if you can start at Auburn and ride south to the other end of the bridge, but you cannot legally cross the long, high, unrenovated bridge.
Also not shown on the map: the trail IS open south of the Basin parking area to downtown Hamburg proper, so you could add a couple of miles by starting/ending in downtown Hamburg.
Description note: The trail description mentions buying penny candy in Port Clinton. Unless you are gnarly mountain biker able to carry your bike down/up steep grades this would involve leaving your bike, scrambling down a precipitous section of the AT hiking trail (perhaps 40-50 feet of vertical drop, and did I mention it was steep), and hiking a short way into town, and then climbing back up. I'd plan on visiting the store before or after by car, especially if you have smaller kids with you.
Have done the landingville stretch and love it. Lots of birds to see even at this time of year. Can't wait til spring when the birds start coming back. Found a great new walking spot.
My family and I checked out this trail for the first time yesterday. With blue sky, cool temps. and some color still on the trees, we enjoyed a great ride. With fallen leaves, running down the trail with us in the breeze, it was quite magical! We started from the trail head in Hamburg, went out about 6 miles and then back again. We found the trail that we traveled on to be in great condition, smooth, and well marked. We passed a few other bikers and walkers enjoying the trail too. Our only caution about this trail is that it is not one for young children to bike on as the drop off is quite steep in some areas and there are no fences.
Not to stir the pot, but to help others avoid confusion, I have made three round trips through Birdsboro just this week alone.
1) I have seen NO trail signs between where the trail enters Armorcast Drive (the roughest piece of concrete pavement I can ever recall!) and the one on Schuylkill Road AFTER turning off 724 north/west of the Turkey Hill.
2)Route 82 no longer exists -- at least, not in Birdsboro. Route 345 joins 724 south of town, then splits just above the Turkey Hill with 345 traveling a bridge over the Schuylkill, and 724 turning to run parallel with the river. I believe that road over the bridge was once 82, but has been 345 since at least 2010.
For what it's worth, the shoulders on Route 724 are fairly wide and quite smoothly paved from said Turkey Hill up to at least where Schuylkill Road crosses 724 above town and becomes Old River Road. I sometimes ride that rather than Schuylkill Road -- it's a trade-off of smoother paving for more sun!
All in all, I find the trail from Pottstown up to Brentwood to be a pleasant trip. This very day I ventured up beyond the Reading Area Community College and found that section a bit disappointing in condition, although passable.
Although it will be a vital link in a series of trails that will connect the Poconos to downtown Philadelphia (and the East Coast Greenway) when completed, the recently finished section of the Schuylkill River Trail between Cromby and Spring City does not offer much in the way of scenery. The trail closely parallels a high-tension power line and has little shade, and numerous utilities, including other power lines, oil and gas pipelines, the Cromby Power Station and a sewage treatment plant dominate the landscape (though it might be interesting to watch trains pull in and out of the active rail siding outside the power plant). T