Though different sections of this trail are still under construction to expand it to other regions, this specific portion starts from Philadelphia Museum of Art in downtown Philadelphia and extends to Valley Forge National Historic Park, which has its base in Montgomery County. Schuylkill River Trail is 27 miles (43 km) long.
Since this trail is still under construction in line with plans to expand it, by the year 2007 some portions of the trail that were already complete could be traced. These were the sections running from Oaks to South Street in Center City, Philadelphia, which is 23.2 miles (37.3 km), the section from Auburn to Hamburg and the section from Reading to Pottstown, which is 19.5 miles (31.4 km).
The section of this trail that runs from Oaks to Philadelphia as well as Thun Trail and most of the proposed portions of the whole trail are actually rail trails, which lie where the Pennsylvania Railroad lay once. This is with reference to the Schuylkill Branch.
The Schuylkill River Trail was previously referred to as the Philadelphia-Valley Forge Trail and though the latter has since been phased out after the adoption of its current name, some signage on this trail as well as atlases and maps found almost everywhere on the street, still retain the former name used to refer to the trail.
It is expected that this trail will cover a distance of 140 miles when it is finally complete and it will extend from Schuylkill County, which serves as the headwaters of the river, all the way to Philadelphia’s Fort Mifflin. In the past, Schuylkill River was considered a major means of transport and this has continued to the present day.
This has been brought about by the fact that steel and iron production, river and canal navigation as well as quarrying of iron ore and limestone can still be identified along this river. Since the former days, these industrial activities have contributed to the development experienced in this region and continue to be key pillars of the economy here, to this day.
One can also access the towpath of the historic Schuylkill Canal which is also known as the Schuylkill Navigation System through the section of the trail that runs from Shawmont to Manayunk. This section of the trail runs along the towpath. Schuylkill River Trail has an asphalt surface, is accessible on wheelchair and is suitable for various activities.
These include cross country skiing, biking, walking and incline skating. For those who value the company of their dogs while taking a walk, this is one of the best places for such an activity. Several institutions have come aboard to help in the expansion of this trail since Montgomery County constructed the portion running from Philadelphia City line to Valley Forge National Historical Park.
These institutions include Schuylkill River Development Corporation which is involved in construction of the section from Fairmont Park Water Works and along Schuylkill Banks, the Chester County Department of Parks and Recreation is considering works on the Phoenixville and Pottstown section and the Schuylkill River Greenway Association is working on the stretch from Montgomery County line to Birdsboro and from Gibraltar to Reading.