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The Cynwyd Heritage Trail connects the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA’s) Cyn-wyd Station to Bala Cynwyd Park, the historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery, and Westminster Cemetery, as well as a pedestrian bridge across the Schuylkill River. Though only 1.8 miles long, the trail is part of the Circuit Trails, a developing 800-mile urban network of trails in Greater Philadelphia, of which about 350 miles are currently complete.
The 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.
The Cynwyd Heritage Trail connects with the Manayunk Bridge Trail that crosses the Schuylkill River to Philadelphia’s trendy Manayunk neighborhood. A connection to another trail that crosses the river, the Pencoyd Trail, was in the planning stages in 2019. Interpretive signs 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.
Starting at SEPTA’s Cynwyd station, you’ll find a small coffee shop and restrooms. The trail slopes downhill from here. It passes through a residential neighborhood and arrives at Bala Cynwyd Park in 0.5 mile.
Crossing under Belmont Avenue, you’ll pass 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 cemetery. The Westminster Cemetery appears on the left.
At 1 mile, you’ll pass the future site of a short spur route down the embankment that will connect to the Pencoyd Trail, which goes across the Schuylkill River to the Wissahickon neighborhood. At 1.3 miles, the Cynwyd Heritage Trail connects with the Manayunk Bridge Trail, which also crosses the river. Both bridges are pedestrian only.
The trail continues another 0.5 mile to circle back to Belmont Avenue.
A 0.5-mile extension from the Cynwyd station south to the Philadelphia city limits is slated to open in 2020.
To reach the southern trailhead at the Cynwyd SEPTA Station from I-76, take Exit 339 to US 1 S/City Ave. Merge onto US 1, heading southwest, and go 0.8 mile. Turn right onto Conshohocken State Road/PA 23. Go 0.5 mile, and turn right toward Cynwyd Station parking as Conshohocken State Road turns left. A pathway connects to the trail.
To reach the northern endpoint from I-76, take Exit 338 and head southwest on Belmont Ave./SR 3045. Go 0.3 mile, and turn right into the trailhead parking lot just past Rock Hill Road. The trail starts across Belmont Ave. from the parking lot.
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