Do you live your life in the fast lane or like to take things slow and easy? No matter which, the Schuylkill River will flow with you! Whether on the River or beside it, there are many ways to appreciate the River and many groups to connect with to get more involved.
On the Water
Those who prefer to be on the water as opposed to beside it will find various boating options from rowing to kayaking to dragonboating. Rowing along the Schuylkill has long been a Philadelphia tradition and regattas a common sight below East Falls on the Schuylkill. Meanwhile, one of the most popular sports in the world, dragonboating, has found a home on the River with the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival, as well as many teams including the award winning Manayunk Dragon Boat Team. The Philadelphia Canoe Club makes it home on this section of river. Meanwhile, kayak tours offered by Hidden River Outfitters have become a popular way to explore the scenic beauty of this urban stretch of river from a new perspective.
Dock at Venice Island
A landing dock is in place at the foot of Venice Island, allowing boaters to get out of the River at Manayunk. This floating dock is now hosted by the Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant and between dawn and dusk gives boaters access to Main Street, Manayunk by way of the Restaurant. At this point the dock is only meant for landing, not putting in, but with the redevelopment of Venice Island as parkland, it is hoped that the dock will eventually find a permanent location that will allow for boats to be put in.
Along the Water
The Schuylkill River Trail will eventually make it possible to hike or bike from the headwaters of the river to Philadelphia, a 140 - mile trip. Currently one can go from the Schuylkill Banks in Center City to East Falls along Kelly Drive in East Falls and then after a brief on-road portion on Ridge Avenue, connect with the Manayunk Canal Towpath at Lock and Main Streets. This scenic path is a favorite recreational spot for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and rollerbladers. Varied trail surfaces in Philadelphia make some sections more conducive to certain activities. Many do the eight - mile loop from East Falls to the Art Museum circling back by way of the East Falls Bridge. Others opt to travel on the trail to Valley Forge and beyond by way of the Canal Towpath.
Yet another option along this section of riverfront is to connect with hiking and mountain biking trails along the Wissahickon Creek; or the cross-river connections that the Cynwyd Heritage Trail (cynwydheritagetrail.com) will provide between Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township.
There is an eight-mile loop trail from East Falls to the Art Museum that crosses the River at the historic Falls Bridge in East Falls. The Bridge connects to Martin Luther King Drive on the West side of the Schuylkill River. Portions of Martin Luther King Drive are closed during the day on Saturdays and Sundays from May to October to accommodate recreational activities. An on-road portion of the trail begins where Kelly Drive meets Ridge Avenue and continues to the Manayunk Canal Towpath at Lock Street.
The gateway to the Wissahickon Valley Park trails are located adjacent to where Kelly Drive meets Ridge Avenue. Wissahickon Park offers some of the most scenic hiking and mountain biking trails in Pennsylvania. Wissahickon Creek cuts through the Wissahickon Valley Park (http://www.fallinpa.com/fallinpa/dayHikes.jsp?section=wissahickon ), a 1,800-acre, 7-mile long forested alpine gorge that empties into the Schuylkill River. There are many bike paths and trails within the park. In addition to mountain bike and horse trails, popular Forbidden Drive is a mostly level, gravel path.
Manayunk Canal Towpath
Manayunk Canal Towpath runs from Lock Street in Manayunk to Shawmont for a distance of approximately 2 miles. A mixed trail of boardwalk and compacted gravel, the trail is best suited for off road bikes and is a popular jogging, birding and fishing destination as well. The trail runs adjacent to the Manayunk business district progressing to the more scenic wooded section of the trail in Shawmont, which offers a convenient jumping off point for the Montgomery County sections of the Schuylkill Trail running to Valley Forge and beyond.