The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is proud to play a key role in the development of the state’s robust water trail network.
Water trails are recreational corridors comprised of access points, boat launches, day use sites, and overnight camping areas. PEC works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the National Park Service to direct the Pennsylvania Water Trails Program. While we provide marketing and maintenance support to all 26 designated water trails in the Commonwealth, we are the water trail manager for the Tidal Delaware water trail in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
The Tidal Trail is one of the most unique water trails in the Commonwealth as it connects breathtaking natural sites with fascinating industrial heritage and world-class cultural amenities in two states and a major city. The Delaware River has long been a hub of activity in the Philadelphia region. As historic industrial uses have left the shores of the river, PEC and our partners have worked to develop the recreational opportunities presented by the Tidal Trail and rebrand the river as a recreational amenity. Three major events happing this summer are a testament to the changing perceptions of the Tidal Trail: the Independence Seaport Museum’s Tall Ship Festival, the Delaware River Sojourn, and the second annual Spruce Street Harbor Park.
The Tall Ship Festival will bring 12 majestic tall ships and one giant rubber ducky to the Tidal Trail from June 25-28. Attendees can visit the ships, including l’Hermione—a French replica of the 145’ long Concorde class frigate of the French Navy, famous for carrying General Lafayette to the United States in 1780—and El Galeon Andalucia, a replica of the late 16th Century fabled merchant vessels and warships that made up the early navies of Europe. The festival highlights the history of Philadelphia as a major port and shipbuilding capital as well as the Delaware’s current role as a place to enjoy and have fun.
The tidal portion of the Delaware River Sojourn is also occurring during the last weekend of June. As the tall ships line the Philadelphia and Camden riverfronts, a parade of kayakers will paddle from the Seaport Museum to Fort Mifflin. The 2015 theme is Birthplace of America, which will feel very appropriate as the participants paddle past the ship that brought General Lafayette to the aid of the Americans.
The paddlers will also pass the Spruce Street Harbor Park. Now in its second year, the incredibly popular pop-up garden created by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is better than ever. Folks can eat and drink right along the river (and even suspended over the river), play games, relax on hammocks, and roller skate in Philadelphia’s only outdoor skating rink. Last year’s Harbor Park on the Delaware River earned Philadelphia the No. 3 spot on the New York Times’ places to visit in 2015 list, sending a clear message that developing our water trails as recreational amenities is a powerful idea. PEC is proud to be a part of the transformation.