Ride the rails 325x215Today, many of our naton’s old rail beds sit unused and overgrown. A clever organizaton, known as Rails to Trails, has come up with a great plan to preserve history and utlize the space. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonproft organizaton working with communites to preserve unused rail corridors by transforming them into trails, enhancing the health of America’s environment, economy, neighborhoods and people. Their mission statement is “to create a natonwide network of trails from former rail lines and connectng corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.”

The Rails to Trails program started in 1986, and is becoming a natonwide program. To date, they have assisted communites in building 13,600 miles of trails.
In Pennsylvania, there are 115 trails, with more than 20 located in and around Bucks and Montgomery Countes.
Check out the website at www.railstrails.org. Listed under each trail name is informaton about what sort of actvity the trail is suitable for. For example, some trails have parallel paths for horseback riding. Some trails are wheelchair accessible, and most are suitable for walking, biking, and cross-county skiing. Because trails are created by members of the surrounding community, the materials used to make them vary. Some trails may be paved, while others are mulched and some are made of crushed limestone.
Regardless of what trail you choose, using it is sure to be a fun experience. You’ll be getng some exercise while taking in the beauty of the outdoors. I have been on at least six diferent trails, and each has been beautful. Some have been mountainous, others lead through grassy felds, and others follow streams and rivers.

Perkiomen Trail resized

Featured Trail: Perkiomen Trail
The history of Perkiomen Trail railroad corridor extends more than 140 years. Founded shortly afer the Civil War, the Perkiomen Railway Company started running from Oaks to Pennsburg in 1868. New transportaton spurred development along the line, which then extended to Emmaus and the Lehigh Valley. In the 1920s the Perkiomen Valley was a favored vacaton spot, and people used the railroad for access to recreaton areas. The Reading Company bought the line in 1944, but a decline in recreatonal interests, suburban development on natural lands and the advent of the automobile as the favored form of transportaton caused passenger trains on this route to cease operatons by 1955.

Salford trail resized

Underpass near Salford Station
Much of the old railroad right-of-way has been preserved as the Perkiomen Trail, a 19.5-mile multuse trail extending from its connecton with the Schuylkill River Trail in Oaks to Green Lane Park in Green Lane. The trail passes through a rich and varied landscape, including town centers, parks and rural areas, and parallels scenic Perkiomen Creek for much of its route. Most of the trail is surfaced with cinder and packed gravel, with some paved segments. The trail is a regional access between Green Lane Park in Green Lane, Central Perkiomen Valley Park in Schwenksville and Lower Perkiomen Valley Park in Oaks, as well as two signifcant sites, the Mill Grove Landmark in Audubon and Pennypacker Mills Site in Schwenksville. The trail travels through serene wooded areas and rural and suburban neighborhoods, providing an everyday escape and also a versatle community transportaton route. Small businesses along the trail demonstrate its immense popularity. One highlight comes near the southern end right where the trail meets up with Schuylkill River Trail. Here you can experience Valley Forge Natonal Historic Park. In additon to enjoying a wonderful visitor center, explore the grounds to where George Washington and the Contnental Army famously retreated in the winter of 1777 – 1778.

Perkiomen Trail
Length: 19.5 miles Surface: Asphalt, Crushed Stone Trail end points: Hill Rd. at Lumber St. (Green Lane) to Staton Ave (Oaks)

202 Parkway Trail
Length: 8.4 miles
Surface: Asphalt
Trail end points: Route 202 and Route 63/Welsh Road (Montgomeryville) to Route 202 and Route 611 interchange (Doylestown)

D & L Trail - Delaware Canal Towpath
Length: 60 miles
Surface: Crushed Stone, Dirt
Trail end points: S. Delaware Dr./SR 611 nr. Hugh Moore Park (Easton) to Jeferson Ave. (Bristol)

Doylestown Bike & Hike Trails
Length: 13.8 miles
Surface: Asphalt
Trail end points: Ferry Road and Old Ironhill Road to Turk Road

Pennypack Trail
Length: 14.4 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Dirt
Trail end points: Byberry Road
(Huntngdon Valley) to State Road (Holmesburg)

Schuylkill River Trail
Phoenixville to Potstown Length: 9.6 miles Surface: Asphalt, Crushed Stone Trail end points: Port Providence Road (Phoenixville) to Linfeld Road (Parker Ford)

Schuylkill River Trail - Thun Trail
Length: 18.3 miles Surface: Asphalt, Crushed Stone Trail end points: Penn Ave./US 422 (Reading) to Montgomery Co. Comm. College (Pottstown)

Wissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley resized

Bridge in Wissahickon Valley Park
Content and images courtesy of www. railstrails.org
(Forbidden Drive)
Length: 7 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Gravel
Trail end points: Northwestern Ave./Andorra at Thomas Rd. (Wyndmoor) to Lincoln Dr. (S end of Wissahickon Valley Park)

Other Trails of Interest, see www.railstrails.org for maps, directons, history and other details.

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