Liberty Bell Trail

When completed, the Liberty Bell Trail will link to the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown and provide the same connections that the Liberty Bell Trolley did nearly 70 years ago.

The Liberty Bell Trail (LBT) corridor has been nearly 250 years in the making. The path was first trod by a few brave Pennsylvanians just before the British Army invaded Philadelphia, who carried the Liberty Bell out of Philadelphia to safety in Allentown.

In the early 1900s, as Philadelphia and its suburbs were rapidly expanding, the historic route colonists used to rescue the Liberty Bell over 100 years earlier was converted into the Liberty Bell Trolley Line. For the next half century, this trolley took Pennsylvanians from Philadelphia, through Norristown and Quakertown and into Allentown. The Liberty Bell Trolley Line was known as one of the best trolley systems in America at the time.

As the use of automobiles became increasingly widespread starting in the 1920s, the Liberty Bell Trolley saw fewer and fewer passengers until 1951, when the Lehigh Valley Transit Company (which owned the Liberty Bell Trolley) ceased operations. Sadly, the rails and many of the trolley cars were immediately taken and scrapped for the Korean War effort.

However, to this day the LBT corridor is lined with historic landmarks, cultural resources, natural amenities, and vibrant commercial and residential districts. In 2005, a feasibility study along the Liberty Bell corridor by the Waetzman Group sought to reinvigorate this historic path by turning it into a pedestrian and bicycle trail.

From the winter of 2021 to the spring of 2022, eight Montgomery County municipalities – with support from PEC – worked with Michael Baker International to conduct an updated feasibility study for the Montgomery County section of the LBT. In the spring of 2022 this feasibility study was adopted by all eight municipalities and can be viewed here.


The Liberty Bell Trail from Telford Borough to Upper Gwynedd Township

Eight municipalities in Montgomery County are collaborating with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and consulting firm Michael Baker International to advance the planning of the Liberty Bell Trail (LBT). Those municipalities include Upper Gwynedd Township, North Wales Borough, Lansdale Borough, Hatfield Township, Hatfield Borough, Franconia Township, Souderton Borough and Telford Borough. A prior LBT Feasibility Study completed in 2005 investigated the potential development of the former 25-mile Liberty Bell Trolley route between Norristown and Quakertown into a trail network for walking and bicycling.

The recent feasibility study focused on the 11-mile portion of the LBT in Montgomery County. Over the past 16 years, some progress has been made toward its completion, including construction of approximately 1.5 miles in Lansdale Borough and another half mile in Hatfield Borough. As part of this trail update, we investigated changes that have occurred along the planned trail route, explore alternatives, and make recommendations for a preferred alignment. These technical tasks were supported by a robust public outreach program using numerous virtual and traditional techniques. In the spring of 2022 this feasibility study was adopted by all eight municipalities and can be viewed here.

What's Next?

If you would like to stay up to date on the development of the Liberty Bell Trail between Upper Gwynedd and Telford since the adoption of the feasibility study, email Zhenya Nalywayko ([email protected]).

The Liberty Bell Trail in Bucks County, PA

PEC is also working with the Bucks County Planning Commission, SEPTA, DVRPC, and local stakeholders to extend the Liberty Bell Trail from the Upper Bucks Rail-Trail south from Quakertown to Perkasie Borough using SEPTA’s ROW. In late 2022, one portion of this rail-with-trail alignment – Fairview Ave. to Veteran’s Park – received a congressional earmark for $1.7 million. PEC and our partners are looking to build on this success to construct this vital piece of trail, which will connect the existing Upper Bucks Rail-Trail into the heart of Quakertown Borough.

The Southern Connection

In 2023, PEC is targeting a feasibility study for the final – and arguably, the most important – section of the Liberty Bell Trail, from where the MBI feasibility study starts in Upper Gwynedd to its junction with the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown. The section, the “Southern Connection,” ranks as the #1 overall priority trail segment out of all 253 unbuilt Circuit Trails segments analyzed in our Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails network.

Stay tuned for updates on this section and opportunities to get involved.