Through a series of Schuylkill River Town Program (SRTP) bike rides, paddle trips, and more, the summer along the river and its trail is in full swing.
Hosted by local business owner Mark Vaughn of Riverbend Cycles, Schuylkill River Towns kicked off the season with an educational series for cyclists. The program taught current and potential cyclists about bike maintenance, road safety, commuting by bike, and cycling with children. Through this program, SRTP is helping non-traditional cyclists feel empowered to use the trail in their daily life.
The series ended just in time for many local trail users to celebrate Opening Day of the Circuit Trails in May with the Passport to the Schuylkill River Towns event. Participants in Phoenixville, Norristown, and Conshohocken could pick up a guide to eateries, breweries, and trail-friendly shops in each town that offered free Circuit Trails gear. Maps on the guides showed how the Schuylkill River Trail connects the river towns and leads to these establishments.
For National Trail Month in June, PEC hosted a 33-mile bike ride that led participants to breweries in Phoenixville, Norristown, and Conshohocken. In addition to highlighting connections between the towns and promoting the connection between public transit and the trail, the ride showcased the growing brewing industry in these industrial towns.
Throughout June and July, SRTP offered paddle trips on the Schuylkill that highlighted access points in local communities and the incredible beauty of this natural resource. Led by the outfitters at Take It Outdoors Adventures, SRTP participants have paddled out of Norristown, Bridgeport, and Port Providence. The kayaking events sold out quickly and introduced beginners and experienced paddlers alike to this fun recreational activity that many were unaware was possible on the Schuylkill River.
Another highlight of this summer’s kayak trips was a day-long event for kids ages 10-16, introducing them to kayaking, teaching them about their local environment, and inspiring them to become stewards of nature in their backyards. This youth trip was made possible with the support of the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds & Rivers (POWR).
This summer’s events also included walking tours along the Schuylkill River Trail. An ethnobotany tour taught participants to identify edible and medicinal plants. A trail cleanup in Phoenixville had Action Team members, high school students, and a local baseball team working together to clean two miles of the SRT and the French Creek. The group collected over 40 bags of trash and learned about the history of the Schuylkill Canal in Phoenixville.
But the summer of events is not over just yet. SRTP will be hosting more kayak trips in August and September, including a full moon paddle on the river as well as ConshyCache, a geocaching event on the trail. Additionally, SRTP is excited to present Perspectives of Nature, a pop-up art gallery that will take place in Norristown on Aug. 6. Artists from the river towns submitted work inspired by the Schuylkill River, and it will be on display in Norristown’s Center for Culture, Art, Training, and Education. This program is presented in partnership with Montgomery County Community College and the Philadelphia Art Alliance. The goal is to open residents’ eyes to the natural beauty in their communities.