Runners and joggers will find a variety trails, tracks, and events to allow them to stretch their legs throughout the Heritage Area. The area is criss-crossed by a network of paved and gravel trails including the Schuylkill River Trail. The Heritage Area also plays host to a number of 5Ks and 10Ks, marathons, and benefit walks throughout the year. Many of the region’s towns provide a backdrop for daily exercise or a quiet stroll.
While runners and joggers can enjoy their sport almost anywhere, several sites provide wonderful facilities for runners. The Schuylkill River Trail is paved between Fairmount Park and Valley Forge NHP and is extremely popular with local runners and joggers. Within both of these parks, runners will find a vast network of trails and paths on both flat and hilly terrain. Other popular trails for runners include the Perkiomen Trail, the Union Canal Towpath, and the Schuylkill Valley Heritage Trail (in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County).
For those with a competitive edge, annual events like the Philadelphia Distance Run, the Broad Street Run, and the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run might be just what you’re looking for.
Many of the communities throughout the Heritage Area are best explored on foot. Walking or jogging along the streets of any of the region’s towns and villages will give you a glimpse at what makes this region unique.
Because many of the region’s backroads can be narrow and windy, runners and joggers are advised to pick alternate routes with sidewalks or wide shoulders for their own safety.
The Schuylkill River Trail parallels Kelly Drive along the east side of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia and is one of the region’s most popular running and jogging trails. Each morning and evening the trail is lined with residents and visitors alike. Particularly popular is the 8-mile “Loop” that crosses the Falls Bridge in East Falls. You can begin your trip at a number of places along Kelly Drive or Martin Luther King Drive, but most folks prefer to start at Lloyd Hall or East Falls. Martin Luther King Drive is closed to vehicular traffic on Saturdays and Sundays 6 AM to 5 PM from April to October. The lower portion from Eakins Oval to Sweetbriar Drive re-opens at 12 noon.
Distance runners may wish to skip the loop and run the trail from Center City all the way to Valley Forge. The 26-mile section is paved from Center City to Manayunk, where it joins the gravel Manayunk Towpath. Paving resumes again in Montgomery County all the way through Valley Forge NHP. Runners can catch a ride back to the city on SEPTA’s regional rail line in Norristown.
Another 20-mile section of the Schuylkill River Trail runs from Pottstown’s Riverfront Park to Reading Area Community College, in Reading. From Pottstown to the Montgomery/Berks County line, a distance of about 2.5 miles, the trail is paved and runs for part of the way beside the riverfront. In Berks County the trail is crushed stone and stretches through mostly wooded areas, providing a nice shadey spot to jog in the summer time. For maps, visit the Schuylkill River Trail website.
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