The Schuylkill River Trail is actually a series of unconnected segments that, taken together, total about 60 miles of trail from downtown Philadelphia to Pottsville. Developed over old, unused railroad tracks and canal towpaths, the trail is mostly paved with asphalt, but there are significant sections of crushed stone and gravel as well. There's even a dirt wagon-type trail in the northern section.
To continue the trail in a section of Philadelphia where the current railway and the river squeeze the useable shoreline, the city built an almost half-mile concrete, 2-way cement pedestrian boardwalk from Locust Street to the South Street Bridge. Equipped with a ramp, the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk is handicapped and bicycle accessible. With intermittent overlooks and a distance of 50 feet from the shoreline overhanging the river, the boardwalk is a pawrect place for stopping and admiring the Philadelphia skyline during your hike with your pooch.
Another highlight of this trail is Sullivan's Bridge, located in the Philadelphia to the Valley Forge National Historic Park segment, which spans the Schuylkill River. Open to pedestrians and bikes, the view of the river in both directions is furtastic! The Manayunk Canal Towpath segment features preserved lock mechanisms and lock houses, remnants of the canal's heyday as a shipping route for coal and other commodities.
Passing through industrial towns with old mills and factories nestled close by with modern office buildings and upscale restaurants, the trail also meanders through small hamlets featuring gas stations, restrooms, and diners. Parts of the trail traverses lush wetlands around the river with ferns and colorful wildflowers, and others wind through forests with tree canopies that provide constant shade and coolness. Traveling alongside and over several creeks and along open fields, the landscape is seldom boring. Birds serenade your journey from high in the trees, and you and Fido will spy many small animals rustling in the grass and forest understory.
When all of the segments are complete, the Schuylkill River Trail will span 130 miles and will connect downtown Philadelphia with outlying counties, making the trail a pawrific commuter as well as recreational path!
Much of this trail travels through city and town streets, sometimes on sidewalks, but others in the roadway. Keep Fido securely leashed and be aware of bicycles and motorized vehicles. During hunting season, be sure to outfit yourself and your pup in blaze orange while hiking through wooded areas.