10 Reasons the Circuit Trails Are Remarkable

Posted 02/11/16 by Katie Harris in America's Trails, Building Trails

Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, the Circuit Trails, Philadelphia | Photo courtesy Montgomery County Planning Commission

The Philadelphia region is home to one of the country’s largest trail networks, a visionary model that, when complete, will incorporate 750 miles of connected trails leading through urban landscapes and rural countryside. The system is called the Circuit Trails, and the network will be accessible to all residents and visitors, regardless of age, income or experience level.

The network is revolutionizing the way we view trail systems and providing safe routes to business, employment and cultural destinations in the region. Here are 10 things that make this trail system remarkable.

A Philadelphia Senior Strut on Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park | Photo courtesy Fairmount Park Conservancy

1It’s one of the largest trail networks in the country.

So what does 750 miles even mean? Well, that’s like taking a trip from Philadelphia to Boston—and back—with more than a hundred miles to spare! And it’s all going to be on separated trail. How awesome is that?

2Rail-trails are the spine.

Major arteries of the Circuit Trails footprint are rail-trails or canal trails, including the Schuylkill River Trail and the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail. Built on bygone infrastructure, these pathways are the ultimate recycling project!

Cynwyd Heritage Trail, the Circuit Trails in Philadelphia | Photo courtesy Montgomery County Planning Commission

3It allows city dwellers to escape.

Sometimes city living can feel a little boxed in, but with routes out to rural areas via the Circuit Trails, Philadelphia residents have an automatic “escape hatch” when they need a little greenery in their lives! Trails like the D&L Trail (which cuts through 4,500 acres of dramatic river gorge parkland along the Lehigh River) fast-track riders to cheery small towns (the trail's main anchor town, Jim Thorpe, is considered the "gateway to the Poconos") and rural bliss.

4It includes award-winning trails.

The Schuylkill River Trail was designated by USA Today as the Best Urban Trail in the U.S. in 2015! The route is immensely popular, and for good reason. It’s scenic, accessible and near the water!

Battleship New Jersey in Camden | Photo courtesy mashleymorgan | CC by 2.0

5It takes you to a battleship.

America’s most decorated warship, Battleship New Jersey, is right off the Camden Greenway! Go for a tour or just sit in the ship’s grandeur at its resting place on the Delaware River. 

6It’s changing the way that kids in Philadelphia grow up.

The Circuit Trails are helping kids experience their city in a brand-new way. From pop-up bike clinics in Camden to trailside watershed education lessons, youth in the region have gained a new perspective on their home.

2015 RTC Youth Sojourn on the Circuit Trails | Photo by Cy Maramangalam

7It’s revolutionizing how people think about their health.

For folks in Philly that want to be more physically active, the Circuit Trails are key. The trail system has been embraced as a vital tool in preventative care. Initiatives like the D&L National Corridor's and St. Luke’s Get Your Tail on the Trail program and Walk with a Doc programs around the region help make the case for trails as tools for a healthy life.

8It lets you relive history.

Everyone knows that Philadelphia is steeped in history. What many don’t know is that you can take a trail from Center City (home to the Liberty Bell and many other icons of American history) to Valley Forge, the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. Just follow the Schuylkill River Trail and travel back in time!

RELATED: The Circuit Trails: Greater Philadelphia’s Burgeoning Trail Network
Pennypack Trail in Pennsylvania | Photo courtesy Montgomery County Planning Commission

9It’s for everyone.

When the system is complete, more than half of the region’s residents will be within 1 mile of a Circuit Trail. Regardless of age, income or experience level, the trail system is being built for the benefit of everyone.

10Residents love it!

Trails are woven into the culture of the region. For many, walking is the way to go when it comes to experiencing the city. And as more people choose active transportation over other modes, the Circuit Trails become increasingly valuable.

Want to learn more about the Circuit Trails and RTC’s work in Philadelphia? Check out RTC's Circuit Trail Web page.


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