SCHUYLKILL RIVER TRAIL LETTERBOX:
MONT CLARE-PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Planted: April 18, 2008
Length: Schuylkill River Trail; 26 miles
Perkiomen Trail; 19 miles
Wissahickon Trail/Forbidden Trail; 20 miles
Valley Forge NHP bike trails; 18.2 miles
Betzwood Park to Letterbox; 1/4 mile
Difficulty: Easy. Paved trail with some on-road sections and a stone-dust towpath section.
To start from the Betzwood parking lot; From Valley Forge take Route 422 northbound over the Schuylkill River. Take the S Trooper Rd exit and head left or south. The Betzwood picnic area is on the right next to the river. The first parking lot has a signboard and access to the Schuylkill River Trail. The Valley Forge River Trail is alongside the river. You can also travel over the bridge by bike via a pedestrian corridor from Valley Forge.
To start from the Longford Park parking lot; From Route 422, take the S Collegeville Rd exit and travel south through Mont Clare. Turn left on Walnut St, just before the bridge over the river. Walnut St turns into Port Providence Rd. Longford Park will be on your right.
To start from the Manayunk Canal; From I-76, take exit 338 to Belmont Ave and travel north over the river into Manayunk. Turn right onto Main St and you'll see parking signs for the bike trail that will take you to lots located next to the Manayunk Canal Towpath. However, we parked off Cresson St which had much more reasonable rates for all day parking. Especially when you don't know how long you'll be gone.
We biked two separate sections of the trail; the northern end from Valley Forge to Mont Clare and the southern end from Manayunk Canal to Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia. You must travel on-street through the city to reach Independence Park. We biked into Philadelphia along the trail which includes several SEPTA Regional Rail stops and then took the train back to our starting point. The R6 Line has several stops near the trail from Norristown (about 18 miles to Independence Park) to Manayunk (about 9 miles to Independence Park). You can then take an elevator down to the Market East Station from 12th St, between Cuthbert and Filbert Streets to Track 1A.
The Schuylkill River Trail extends from Downtown Philadelphia to Mont Clare. In Philadelphia, the trail travels through Fairmont Park and along the Manayunk Canal Towpath. See; MANAYUNK CANAL . The trail is paved, except for the Towpath, which consists of stone-dust and boardwalks. Currently stretching 25 miles along the Schuylkill River the plan is for a continuous trail along the entire length of the river, over 100 miles, from the Delaware River to its headwaters in Schuylkill County. The trail follows the SCHUYLKILL RIVER HERITAGE CORRIDOR . For more information visit; SCHUYLKILL RIVER TRAIL .
NORTHERN SECTION; Valley Forge to Mont Clare:
from the Betzwood parking lot;
From the first parking lot, a connector trail leads from the signboard up to the
trail. Right takes you towards
SOUTHERN SECTION; Manayunk to Philadelphia:
Starting from Manayunk Canal at Lock Street; The canal originates in Glen Willow from the Schuylkill River and then travels behind Main St in Manayunk. Just after passing Lock St it then reenters the river. The Canal was completed in 1818 and contains Locks 68-70 as well as ruins of sluice house, Lock tenders House and Flat Rock Dam. After checking out the stone-dust Towpath along the canal, you'll come to Lock Street. Head up to Main St and turn right for a 1.5 mile on-road detour. Follow Main St (and the blue & white trail signs) and you'll pass by the Wissahickon Train Station up on your left at 0.8 miles. Main St turns into Ridge Ave. You'll come to a bridge across Wissahickon Creek at 1.1 miles. Across Ridge Ave is the start of the WISSAHICKON TRAIL . Travel across the bridge and turn right on a sidewalk along the start of Kelly Drive. This is also the start of FAIRMONT PARK . You'll come to a parking lot and the paved trail at 1.5 miles. Another 0.2 miles brings you to Falls Bridge and a map board.
Note; The Schuylkill River Trail continues along the river, however, you also have the option of crossing over Falls Bridge and following the river along the west bank. From April-October, Saturday & Sundays, 7am-5pm they close down West River/Martin Luther King Drive to vehicle traffic. This enables you to use the road that parallels the river all the way to the West River/Martin Luther King Drive Bridge. There is also a narrow paved trail that parallels the road. This is the route we took. It also allows you to loop back up along the east side of the river upon your return. [See below for return trip]
West River/Martin Luther King Drive and the parallel trail travel underneath numerous bridges and pass by numerous informative signboards. At 4.5 miles you pass by a tunnel for Sweet Briar Rd.
Note; Follow this Sweet Briar Rd and the blue "Zoo" signs to reach the PHILADELPHIA ZOO .
After 5.5 miles you'll come to the dam. Across the river are the Boat House Row and Fairmont Water Works. Great views of the downtown skyline. Cross over West River/Martin Luther King Drive Bridge back to the east side of the river. You'll pass by a switchback trail on your left.
Note; This trail takes you up to Spring Garden St and a cross light over to the PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART .
Continue straight to a cross light and turn right over Martin Luther King Drive. This brings you to Schuylkill Banks. Continue straight past the stone trellis where you'll return to the Schuylkill River Trail at 6 miles.
Note; Right takes you north back along the east side of the river [See below for return trip]
We headed left, passing Paine's Park and traveling underneath the Vine Street Expressway (I-676), where the trail runs alongside the river on your right and railroad tracks on your left. After traveling underneath a RR bridge you'll travel under JFK Blvd at 6.6 miles where you'll find a ramp up to JFK Blvd, as well as, a path that crosses the tracks into the city. Continuing along the river you travel under a series of bridges before coming to a RR crossing over to S 25th & Locust St at 6.9 miles.
Note; The trail was extended in October 2014. I haven't checked out this new section. A 2000 foot long concrete structure now juts out into the river continuing the trail south down to the Stair tower on the south side of the South Street Bridge at 7.3 miles. A ramp off the boardwalk on the north side of the bridge takes you up to the South Street Bridge if biking. A bike lane takes you across the river to UNIVERSITY CITY .
Note; We decided to bike through the city over to Independence National Historical Park. Head back to the Chestnut Street Bridge where a pedestrian walkway takes you up to either Chestnut St or Market St. We took Market St because it brings you first to City Hall. After City Hall you'll probably want to switch to another parallel street as Market St tends to become quite crowded. Its only about 2 miles before you reach 6th St and INDEPENDENCE NHP . You can ride back or take the train (See train info above).
Starting from the West River/Martin Luther King Drive Bridge Intersection; [Return trip] Head north along the trail as it travels underneath the West River/Martin Luther King Drive Bridge and takes you up to the Fairmont Water Works with its promenades overlooking the river. From here you can also access the PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART that overlooks the river. The trail travels by a parking lot and comes to Kelly Drive at a 1/2 mile. You can take the trail right to access Logan Square and the Franklin Museum. Turn left along Kelly Drive and you'll come to Loyd Hall where you'll find restrooms and refreshments. The trail passes by the historic buildings along Boat Row, monuments and artwork and past a tunnel drilled through the hill for the road. After traveling underneath a railroad bridge at 1.3 miles, keep an eye out to your right for the General Grant statue and a stone arch railroad bridge. After passing below the Columbia Bridge at 2.1 miles there will be viewing stands for skull racing. Look up at 3.4 miles to spot Laurel Hill Cemetery as it straddles the ridge. You reach Falls Bridge at 4 1/4 miles.
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LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON
MARCH 14, 2014
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