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Neil_B 08-02-08 11:53 PM

A Tale of Three Trails - Another Photo-heavy Post by The Historian
30 miles, 162 photos. Don't worry, you won't have to see all 162 pictures.

I hoped to meet a Clydesdale Bike Forums poster at Spring Mill on the Schuylkill River Trail, but 3:00 PM came and went without his presence. Perhaps the rain earlier in the day discouraged him. So I decided to turn the day into a photographic display on three local trails:

- the Cross County Trail, partially complete, and currently running from Conshohocken to Plymouth Meeting.
- the Schuylkill River Trail from Conshohocken to Manayunk.
- the Manayunk Canal Towpath.

After riding back and forth waiting for the Bike Forums poster, I headed onto the Cross County Trail.

There seem to be two types of multi-use trails and paths - the scenic and the utilitarian. The utilitarian describes much of the Schuylkill River Trail, and almost the entirety of the Cross County Trail as it exists now. Montgomery County is working to preserve open space, but it's a county with over 600 thousand residents. Conshohocken and Plymouth Meeting are very close to Philadelphia, and it's a very heavily developed area. While the first part of the CCT promises some scenery...

...the trail soon enters the retail development of Plymouth Meeting. If you want to ride to buy a futon, an Ikea is right handy. Ditto Target, Barnes and Noble, Mens Wearhouse, Lowes, etc.

The trail will eventually arrive at Fort Washington, but for now to dead ends on Germantown Pike in Plymouth Meeting.

Unfortunately, there's not much to see on the trail. At the end, I crossed a small field to reach a historic building on Germantown Pike.

More to come.....

Neil_B 08-03-08 12:09 AM

The Cross County Trail intersects the Schuylkill River Trail at Conshohocken:

The trail goes through five road crossings between Conchy and Spring Mill, and passes by two SEPTA train stations. Still, one often sees roadies in full kit leaning on aerobars as they rushed through this congested area. Past Spring Mill the trail once again becomes wooded, and soon enough one crosses into Philadelphia County. The trail shrinks in width as it crosses the county line:

The trail breaks off and continues on Nixon Street in Manayunk:

At the intersection of Shawmont and Nixon, the site of a war memorial, the trail breaks in two. Bicycle Club of Philadelphia's route for road bikes turns left uphill into Manayunk.

I continued onto the Manayunk Canal Towpath....

Neil_B 08-03-08 12:26 AM

From Nixon Street one crosses a patch of rough pavement, crosses the SEPTA R6 line, and passes the abandoned Shawmont Station:

I chose to walk over the cobblestones that continue the next couple of hundred feet:

There are a couple of abandoned buildings along the gravel and dirt trail:

The trail follows the Schuylkill River very closely, and there are some spectacular views along the way:

Soon enough the trail follows the Manayunk Canal. I didn't follow the trail to its terminus on Main Street, but turned around about a mile before.

Neil_B 08-03-08 12:51 AM

Just a couple more from Conchy:

An example of the sort of hills the locals get to ride up - and down. This is Cherry Street, and it's not the worst of them:

Aside from a gas station or two, there's only one trail store between Phoenixville and Philadelphia on the SRT, and that The Outbound Station in Conshohocken, in the old Pennsylvania Railroad station building. There are services available in the towns along the trail, but they require you to leave the trail, and, as you saw in the first photo, ride uphill in many cases. Barb, owner of TOS, makes things very welcoming to cyclists, with bike racks and a garden courtyard. The courtyard was empty today, but on many a Saturday it's hosted a half-dozen cyclists at a time. The location, halfway between Philadelphia and Phoenixville, makes it a popular stopping point.

One of the five road crossings in the mile between Conshohocken and Spring Mill. On the right is the SEPTA R6 line between Philadelphia and Norristown. The trail connects with the trail at Conchy, Spring Mill, Norristown, and ends in Philadelphia a block from SEPTA's (and AMTRAK's) 30th Street Station. Unfortunately, neither SEPTA's cars nor their stations for the most part are bike friendly, limiting the usefulness of the train to trail users.

Mazama 08-03-08 02:44 AM

You go on some nice rides. I just attached a camera bag to my bike. In the future I might have some photo heavy posts ;)

Neil_B 08-03-08 06:21 AM

There was a sad moment during my ride on the Cross County Trail. I made sure Roark didn't look at this fallen sister laying in the dried up creek bed. I bowed my head for a moment, and then moved on.

Neil_B 08-03-08 06:28 AM

I took a dozen or so photos of this heron - is it a heron? - as it waded in the canal. It's not quite as dramatic a series as the deer crossing Perkiomen Creek I photographed last month, nor as racy as the turtle porn I shot in my backyard, but still.....

Neil_B 08-03-08 06:43 AM

The dam on the Schuylkill River, photographed about 6:15 PM from the Manayunk Canal Towpath. I think I've outgrown this camera. Time to get more serious.....

ban guzzi 08-03-08 06:46 AM

I likeyour photo postings. Please keep them coming! I lived in VA for a couple of years and miss how the East Coast is 'set up' with cities and rural rubbing shoulders everywhere...

Nice heron. Part of the area at my work is a bird preserve and we have herons, pelicans, buzzards, cormorants, etc...

Good stuff and a nice read first thing at work!

Nice pic of Roark peekin'..

Thank you!

uncadan8 08-03-08 08:52 AM


Originally Posted by The Historian (Post 7194444)
I took a dozen or so photos of this heron - is it a heron? - as it waded in the canal. It's not quite as dramatic a series as the deer crossing Perkiomen Creek I photographed last month, nor as racy as the turtle porn I shot in my backyard, but still.....

Great Blue Heron, I believe.

cycler39 08-03-08 11:13 AM

Great pictures
Thanks for the pictures of your ride. Did you have the trails all to yourself?

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