Cynwyd Heritage Trail


7 Reviews

View Trail Map
View Map
Send to App

Register for free!

Register for free with TrailLink today!

We're a non-profit all about helping you enjoy the outdoors
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your own favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Leave reviews for trails
  • Add new and edit existing trails

Cynwyd Heritage Trail Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Montgomery
Length: 1.9 miles
Trail end points: 726 Belmont Ave (Bala Cynwyd) and Cynwyd SEPTA Station (Bala Cynwyd)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6297615

Cynwyd Heritage Trail Description


The Cynwyd Heritage Trail runs between the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA’s) Cynwyd Station and Bala Cynwyd Park and also connects the historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery, and Westminster Cemetery, as well as a pedestrian bridge across the Schuylkill River. Though only 1.9 miles long, the trail offers a number of scenic stops.

About the Route

The northern end of the route leaves off from Belmont Ave. and heads slightly north as it curves along the outer edge of the Westminster Cemetery, passing by the entrance to the Manayunk Bridge Trail

Interpretive signs along the route tell about the cemeteries, former train stations (Cynwyd and Barmouth), and an old cotton mill along the route. A gravel footpath parallels the asphalt trail at various points, where you will find benches and Adirondack chairs overlooking the river.

The trail curves back around and crosses under Belmont Ave. Here, the route passes the historical site of the Barmouth station on the left and the 187-acre West Laurel Hill Cemetery on the right, where notable figures from the 19th and 20th centuries are buried. During the warmer months, you’ll see wildlife and possibly goats, as the cemetery keeps them on hand to help consume the growth on the ridge between the trail and the cemetery.

Just south of Bala Cynwyd Park, the trail reaches its southern endpoint at SEPTA’s Cynwyd station, where trail users will find a small coffee shop and restrooms. 


Near the trail's northern end, a connection is available to the Manayunk Bridge Trail, which guides trail users across the river to the Schuylkill River Trail.

The Cynwyd Heritage Trail is part of the Circuit Trails, a developing 800-mile urban network of trails in Greater Philadelphia. 

Trail History

The Cynwyd Heritage Trail takes its name from the Bala Cynwyd community, which was settled by Welsh Quakers who named the area for villages they left behind in Wales in the late 1600s. The trail traces the former route of Pennsylvania Railroad’s Schuylkill Branch, which ran from Philadelphia to Norristown beginning in 1884. SEPTA took over the commuter line in 1983 but closed the segment north of the Cynwyd station in 1986. SEPTA leased the section to Lower Merion Township, which created the paved rail trail in 2011.

Parking and Trail Access

The Cynwyd Heritage Trail runs between 726 Belmont Ave (Bala Cynwyd) and Cynwyd SEPTA Station (Bala Cynwyd), with parking available at both ends.

Parking is also available at:

  • 215 Belmont Ave (Bala Cynwyd)
  • 374 Trevor Ln (Bala Cynwyd)

Please see TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Cynwyd Heritage Trail Reviews

A short, easy trail

Many will access this from the Schuylkill River Trail in Manyunk, crossing the bridge over the river and the expressway. That way, it is a gentle uphill ride to the train station on a well maintained trail. Once one gets to the train station and turns around, give a few hard pedals, and one can coast almost all the way back. When I have been on it, a nice variety of users. One is unlikely to run into bike racers, as it is too short for them. From signs I have seen along the trail, there may be improvements (amenities) from local groups who may be adopting the trail. There are some benches and also signs pointing out spots of interest.

Great entrance to the River Trail from western suburbs,,

I used to bike the Schuylkill River Trail starting from the Art Museum area for years. Now starting in Delaware County, this trail is a great entrance option to the SRT, crossing the river on its own bridge that puts you on the northern edge of Manayunk, beyond the bulk of trail congestion and road-hopping. (From there you can take the paved bike path on the side of Umbria, or go a block back down Main to the stone/boardwalk trail, to Shawmont Station and beyond.) This is a great option to avoid riding on busy roads, with blind corners, hills, little to no shoulder, and major intersections to get to the trail for a longer ride.

It’s beautiful, spacious, paved (though will have gravel and dirt spots after a heavy storm, so be aware)- overall a great find!

Headed north toward Manayunk is an easy downhill sloping grade, steeper than it seems until you come back: if you ride the trail from here to Valley Forge, the last mile or so back to Cynwyd Station on this trail is the longest climb.

The only drawback- but it’s a big one for many cyclists- is the Manayunk Bridge doesn’t open until 8am. That’s a few hours too late for most long rides. The option of following this trail to Belmont Ave., crossing at Green Ln., adds in all the dangers mentioned above, taking away the main advantage of this trail’s dominant feature.

I will definitely be using this trail when I start rides later in the mornings or mid-day, but will miss it as a safe option to the SRT on earlier (mostly all) rides when the bridge is, for some reason, closed.

A Time Lapse In History

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.

Correction to a review

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.


A Time Machine

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.

More than just a community trail

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.

Great Trail for Exercise

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

Nearby Trails

Go Unlimited Today!

  • FREE Account
  • View over 40,000 miles of trail maps
  • Post your trail reviews
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Get a free map in the app!
Register for FREE
Purchase Unlimited

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google

Log in with Apple


Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 40,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google

Register with Apple


Your account has been deleted.