Local lawmakers and environmental officials gathered Wednesday along the banks of the Schuylkill River to celebrate the Schuylkill River Trail’s distinction as the “best urban trail” in the nation, according to a poll by USA TODAY.
USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Award for Best Urban Trail featured trails from across the country. A panel of travel and outdoor recreation experts nominated 20 trail systems located near major U.S. cities and turned to USA TODAY and 10Best readers to vote for their favorite trail.
On a sweltering day, dozens of trail supporters listened to officials sing the praises of improved river access, better connected communities, and the increase of time spent outdoors. Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Michael DiBerardinis spoke about the economic impact the Schuylkill River Trail has had in Philadelphia and beyond.
“Do good urban trails along waterways spur investment and economic development? Look around Schuylkill banks,” DiBerardinis said.
Leslie Richards, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and the former Montgomery County Commissioner and ardent trail advocate, spoke about the need to continue to advocate for trails. Other speakers included Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Dunn and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary John Quigley.
The Schuylkill River Trail is the region’s most heavily used multi-use, recreation, and commuter trail and maintains a strong reputation as not only a local amenity, but a tourist attraction as well. When complete, the Schuylkill River Trail is projected to be nearly 130 miles long, connecting five counties, and will be a key corridor of the Circuit trail network.
The Schuylkill River Trail’s win is not only a testament to its popularity for locals and tourists alike, but also the region’s dedication to improving access to multi-use trails and public space.