by Virginia Thompson
There’s nothing better than going for a walk in the fall to take in the cool, crisp autumn air. We are fortunate that Southeastern Pennsylvania has an abundance of trails along the region’s waterways that make it fun and easy to explore a wide variety of scenic, historic, and cultural resources.
Along the Schuylkill River, the Cynwyd Heritage Trail demonstrates that these trails offer more than waterfront recreation: they also provide economic development, opportunities for regional coordination, and improved air quality. The recently opened Manayunk Bridge, connecting the Cynwyd Heritage Trail – an abandoned portion of a rail line – to the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, now offers residents in both areas easier access to restaurants, parks, shops, and services, along with a breathtaking view from high above the river. What used to be an area of manufacturing on both sides of the Schuylkill River (including the road that would become the Schuylkill Expressway) has given way to growing communities of residents, recreational opportunities, restaurants, and more. A weekly farmers’ market is now located on the Cynwyd side of the bridge, accessible to both city and suburban residents. Interpretive signs along the trail provide photos and descriptions of the history and geography of the area with information from the Lower Merion Historical Society. The trail even incorporates green infrastructure: the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will plant a rain garden of native flowers and shrubs in a striking palette of colors to help prevent stormwater run-off.
The trail provides easy access to all of these amenities without use of a car! Perfect for walkers, bikers, and strollers, the trail is such a direct path between Cynwyd and Manyunk that it is now shorter and easier to walk or bike than drive between the two areas. Less traffic means cleaner air. And as we’ve blogged before, cleaner air contributes to cleaner water, too.
The Cynwyd Heritage Trail is one of many that connect to a large regional trail network that is part of the East Coast Greenway. Many of the Pennsylvania segments of this trail network snake along waterways like Darby Creek, Cobbs Creek, and the Delaware River. As more trails are built and connect to this network, more travelers can choose to walk or bike, further reducing the number of automobile trips and helping to clean our air.
I am looking forward to more walks–in all seasons–to explore the rich trail system and the waterways of the Philadelphia area.
About the Author: Virginia Thompson works at EPA Region 3 to help protect the natural resources of our country. She enjoys walking and biking whenever and wherever she can.