The Schuylkill River Trail is one of Philadelphia’s treasures. Spanning thirty miles from Center City Philadelphia, through Valley Forge National Historical Park in Montgomery County, and ending in Parkerford, PA, the trail is beloved by cyclists, walkers, runners, and Philly-area families. Further work is planned to connect the trail between Christian and 34th streets, closing the gap between the Schuylkill River Trail and the nearby Gray’s Ferry Crescent trail. This expansion is part of a larger plan to extend the trail southward.
Most of the trail is between ten and twelve feet wide, with grass shoulders. On the weekends, people turn out in droves to walk it, bike it, and work out, and it’s considerably crowded. But traversing the length of the trail is not the only activity to enjoy. The following are some of the diversions available on the Schuylkill River Trail.
The beautiful waters of the Schuylkill River make the depth along the trail the perfect atmosphere for watersports. If you have your own watercraft, docks are available at Walnut Street and Bartram’s Garden for public use. Just know that there isn’t driving access to either dock, so you must carry in your kayak, canoe, or paddleboard, or else use a dolly. If you don’t have your own kayak, Hidden Rivers Outfitters provides guided tours. It’s a great opportunity for first-time kayakers, as instructors give hands-on training before departure. Expect moderate exertion if you are new to the sport. There is also a riverboat tour with guided narration about the historical Schuylkill River and its landmarks.
Yoga on the Banks, led by teachers Erin Gautsche and Ashley Renee Wagner, is a donation-based yoga class that meets at the grassy area adjacent to the 25th and Locust trail entrance.
The Schuylkill River Trail yoga class is open to yogis of all experience levels, from beginners to experts. Participants are encouraged to bring their own yoga mat or towel, a water bottle, and sunscreen. Now finished for the winter, yoga classes by Erin Gautsche will pick up again in the spring. Take in the sights and worship the sun with a few of your closest friends – it’s a great way to get your day started.
The area of the trail that winds through Fitler Square has a well-regarded dog park. It is well-maintained and welcomes dogs of all breeds and sizes. There are biodegradable poop bags for owners who haven’t already brought their own, a fountain to slake your doggy’s thirst, and a hose to rinse your pooch down after getting all dirty at play. The ground is turf, which some view as an advantage, and some not. The park gets very busy on weekends, so if your pup is of the timid sort, you might want to wait until a weekday to introduce him to the scenery.
If you love eating alfresco amidst beautiful scenery, then the Schuylkill Banks, located alongside the river, are the perfect place for your feast! Grays Ferry Crescent or Bartram’s Mile are both popular spots for picnickers. Access points to the Grays Ferry area are positioned on the 34th Street Bridge, Grays Ferry Avenue & 36th Street, and Wharton Street & Schuylkill Avenue. Bartram’s Mile, which sits on the west side of the Schuylkill, also has access points to the trail segment, located at 49th Street & Botanic Avenue, Bartram’s Garden, and 56th Street & Bartram Drive. All Philadelphia Parks & Recreation rules are in effect, which means no littering, smoking, open fires, or selling things along the trail.
There are two skateparks on the trail. One is located at Paine’s Park, which is a mixed-use public space dedicated to Philadelphia’s skateboarders, positioned along the banks of the Schuylkill River beside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Another one is a pocket skatepark under the Grays Ferry Avenue Bridge. Both parks were built thanks to a collaboration between the Franklins Paine Skatepark Fund and the City of Philadelphia.
If you are a Center City resident, the Schuylkill River Trail is a huge perk to living in the community. Perfect for families, working singles needing a weekend hotspot, or anyone desiring nice scenery for a day out, the trail provides quality entertainment in the great outdoors.