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Imagine one day being able to walk or ride from your home, head in any direction, and have access to a bike or walking trail to take you to work, the store, or just for the pure enjoyment of running or riding. That is the vision of the Circuit – a 750 mile trail system in and around the Greater Philadelphia area. To date, 300+ miles of trails have been completed. Here in Chester County, we have access to many trails that are part of the Circuit trail system as well as others that are separate. Currently, there are over 20 miles of proposed trails that are either in progress or completed with more in the pipeline. This is an exciting time for anyone that uses the trail system – from cyclists, to runners, to families that walk their dogs or push their little ones in strollers.
Some of the highlights of our Chester County trail system include the Chester Valley Trail (CVT), the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT), and the Struble Trail, as well as several mountain bike trails, including those found in Marsh Creek State Park, French Creek State and Harmony Hill Nature Area.
Chester Valley Trail: The CVT is a 13 mile paved, mixed-use trail which sits atop an inactive rail line in central Chester County and runs parallel to Rt. 202 from West Whiteland Township east to King of Prussia in Montgomery County. There are several trailheads along the route complete with parking and bathroom facilities, including Exton Park, East Whiteland Township building, and Warner Road. This trail is popular with cyclists, runners, walkers and families. There is currently a planned extension of the CVT from King of Prussia to Norristown, linking up with the Schuylkill River Trail, and feasibility studies are in progress to extend the trail west to Downingtown.
Schuylkill River Trail: The SRT is the premier recreational and commuter bicycle trail network of Southeastern Pennsylvania and was voted the Best Urban Trail by USA Today in 2015. There are over 60 miles of the SRT completed to date, with sections spanning 5 counties, including Chester County and neighboring Montgomery County. Trail users can access the trail in Chester County at Port Providence trailhead in Phoenixville and take it Valley Forge Park using the Rt. 422 walk-way (note: if you are afraid of heights, avoid this bridge). A new 14-foot wide bike/pedestrian bridge crossing the Schuylkill River is slated to be completed in May, 2016. Plans are also in the works to extend the SRT from Phoenixville to Pottstown and portions of that primarily crushed stone trail have been opened as of April 2015.
Struble Trail: The Struble Trail is a hidden gem in Chester County, hugging the East Branch of the Brandywine River from Kardon Park in Downingtown to the old Dorlan Mill in Upper Uwchlan Township. This 2.6 mile shady and primarily flat, paved path is very popular for running and walking and offers beautiful views of the creek and access to nearby Marsh Creek State Park. As mentioned previously, feasibility studies are ongoing to link the CVT to the Struble Trail in Downingtown.
Mountain Bike Trails: Chester County has several parks that allow mountain biking. French Creek State Park, located in Elverson, has 25+ miles of well-groomed (but somewhat rocky) single-track and double-track dirt trails available. These trails are rated easy to moderate, although they might be challenging for beginners. Harmony Hill Nature Area, located in East Bradford Township, has multiple one and two mile loops, plus some additional trails across Rt. 322 to create approximately 10 miles of trail riding. These trails have been rated beginner to intermediate, with some more difficult sections and some climbing. Lastly, Marsh Creek State Park, located in Upper Uwchlan Township, provides mountain bike enthusiasts with 10+ miles of single and double-track trails and beautiful views of Marsh Creek Lake. These trails may not be suited for beginners due to the terrain.
Please support the wonderful organizations such as the Connect the Circuit, the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia and Bike Chester County who are committed to expanding the availability of recreation space throughout the Philadelphia area, including right here in our beautiful backyard. Get out and RIDE!