The Circuit Coalition is made up of 65 non-profit organizations who show #traillove all year long. Our friends help beautify the trails, raise the profiles of trails in their region and advance the completion of a comprehensive, interconnected multi-use trail network in the region. But of course, the Circuit Trails would be nothing without their loyal users!
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we caught up with trail advocates to learn why they love riding, walking, biking, rollerblading, ice skating, paddle boarding and cross country skiing #onthecircuit. See what they have to say and show some #traillove this Valentine’s Day!
#1: All of our trails are so beautiful in their own way. From riding along the Delaware River, to passing through Pennypack Park, to crossing the Manayunk Bridge, there are always wonderful sights along the way.
#2: I am a long distance runner use the Circuit Trails as my training grounds for marathons. It’s always very refreshing to get outdoors for my daily exercise routine.
#3: Gyms are often crowded and noisy. I love running on the trails and enjoying the great outdoors while also getting a workout.
#4: I love to rollerblade and the Schuylkill River Trail is the best trail to ride on. It’s easy to navigate, and I don’t have to worry about skating up any difficult hills!
#5: Getting on the Circuit is good for us on both a personal and a community level. On a personal level, it can improve our health outcomes and make us happier. On a community level, there are environmental, economic and social benefits.
Use this holiday to appreciate not only the ones you love, but also the experiences you love – like getting out on the Circuit Trails. Consider using the suggested social media content below to show your trail love and appreciation!
Instructions: Show some #traillove by posting a picture of your favorite trail on social media! If available, use the trail name as the location and use the hashtag #onthecircuit and tag us at @circuittrails [Twitter handle] and @TheCircuitTrails [Facebook and Instagram handle].
Facebook: Celebrating this Valentine’s Day #onthecircuit! [Insert trail name] is one of my favorite @TheCircuitTrails.
Twitter: Celebrating this V-day by showing some #traillove #onthecircuit! [Insert trail name] is my favorite @circuittrails.
Instagram: Celebrating this Valentine’s Day by taking a [walk/run/ride/other] on [insert trail name], part of the @thecircuittrails. #valentinesday #traillove #onthecircuit
Top Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors During Winter
Below-freezing temperatures are back and it’s easy to get discouraged from stepping outside, let alone exercising outdoors! We looked into the benefits of exercising outdoors and the results are very positive! In addition to health benefits, there are numerous exercise benefits that you may not be aware of. Check out several reasons you should head outdoors #onthecircuit this winter:
1. Relieve stress
Taking in daily doses of fresh air and sunlight has been proven to dramatically improve moods and relieve stress. Additionally, fewer people are on the Circuit Trails during the winter season which allows for a peaceful and meditative walk, run or ride.
2. Boost creativity and focus
Studies show that walking outdoors can improve focus and even boost creativity. When you are engaging in physical activity outdoors, you are removed from electronic devices and being forced to problem solve in a different way. Without distractions, your attention span becomes more acute. Although this tip is applicable all-year long, when it’s cold, people are less likely to step away from the computer and enjoy the great outdoors.
3. Cure the “Winter Blues”
The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is believed to be a result of shorter days in the winter with less natural light. The treatment? Spending more time outdoors. Yes, it’s dark and cold outside but it’s important to look at the bright side: engaging in daily exercises can improve your energy levels during the day and help you to sleep more soundly at night.
4. Chilly weather won’t get you sick
Despite the common misconception, cold weather does not make you sick. Spending time outside actually lowers the chance of catching any viruses you could potentially contract at a gym. Additionally, spending time outdoors and being exposed to the sun gives you Vitamin D which is essential for fighting off all kinds of diseases and illnesses.
5. Get an even better workout
During winter, runners and bikers are faced with obstacles such as ice, slush or wind which add an extra challenge. Additionally, when the temperature is low, you are more likely to race through your work out and burn more calories which you are already doing due to your body raising its temperature. Cold temps can be used as a motivation to quicken your steps, just be safe out there!
Looking for tips to have a healthy and safe workout this winter? Check out our other blog post here and get out #onthecircuit!
Active.com: 3 Reasons to Go Outside This Winter
As KYW put it, “there’s no such thing as a snow day for Mark Fallon,” a senior naturalist for 13 years at Briar Bush Nature Center in Abington. Following a news piece on Fallon in 2014, we caught up with him this week to interview him about his cross-country ski experiences on the Circuit Trails. Here’s what he had to say:
Most of the Mt. Airy community knows you as the “cross-country skier,” can you share when you first heard about the Circuit?
I have known about individual trails from the moment I moved to Philly in 2000. I lived in Fairmount and my wife (then girlfriend) and I biked the Schuylkill River Trail a lot, mostly Kelly Drive and MLK. I got on the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia mailing list around 2011, and soon became a member. I found out about the amazing advocacy on regional trails from them.
I remember the first time I went out skiing on the Circuit was in 2001 when I lived right by Kelly Drive. I went out on the Kelly Drive section of the SRT and don’t recall seeing anyone. My favorite time to go out skiing is when there are no cars so I can get on a trail without having to worry about taking off my skis too much. I enjoy the solitude, but I would love to see more people out there on snowy days. It’s a wonderful way to spend a “snow day.”
Can you describe your experience of cross-country skiing on the Circuit Trails? What trails do you ski on?
Skiing on the trails is a rare treat and an adventure. Snow accumulations big enough for me to get out on the trails are rare. I don't believe in driving to a local trail to ski or bike. I have primarily skied along Forbidden Drive and nearby trails to my home in Mt. Airy. The one time I went out on Kelly Drive, when I lived downtown, there was absolutely no one out, virtually no roads had been plowed. I skied right across Kelly Drive in over a foot of snow.
Just last week during snow storm Jonas, I cross-country skied with a friend of mine on Forbidden Drive from my house. The trail was beautiful, calm and quiet with very few walkers and skiers. On a typical weekday or weekend on Forbidden Drive, you see hundreds of people running, cycling and walking with their dogs, which is wonderful, but it’s rare to have that solitude that you get in a snow storm.
Do you have any tips for future cross-country skiers on the trails?
- Layers are important: Just like biking, you get hot when you’re exercising and when you stop you can cool down quickly in winter weather.
- Bring a snack.
- Bring a map or be prepared to know where you are going.
- Pay attention to the wind: When it’s very windy I won’t go out in a wooded area due to the danger of falling branches.
- Bring a buddy.
- Carry a fully charged cell phone.
In addition to skiing, do you enjoy cycling on the Circuit Trails?
I suffered a head injury at work a year and a half ago which has kept me off my bike. I typically commuted to work via my bike three to four times a week and am hoping to get back into it slowly this spring.
I love to bike the SRT to the Perkiomen Trail to Green Lane and also SRT out to Valley Forge and back. If all goes well, I would like to be able to bike to Millersville University in June. I attend the Native Plant Conference there every year for work and have biked out once. I would love to go via Chester Valley-Enola Low Grade Trails, so I look forward to continuing improvements there.
Are you excited for any other new trail developments on the Circuit?
I was primarily commuting to work in Abington, so I would love to see the Cresheim Valley and Tookany Creek Trails realized. I am really excited for a connection between the SRT and Chester Valley Trail through King of Prussia. I sometimes bike to visit family in Chesterbrook via the SRT and Valley Forge Park, but would love to be able to cut over to the Chester Valley Trail, so I eagerly await that connection. I follow the development updates through the Circuit Trails newsletter.
The trail system here is like nothing else in the country. It’s amazing when you look at website how extensive trail network is.
By Jonathan DeHart
In my view, commuting by bike certainly has its advantages. It benefits your health and fitness in addition to helping clear your head before heading into the office, or after a long day at work. As a community, we should take advantage of the tremendous network of trails in our region.
Of course, commuting by bike doesn’t come without challenges. One of which is commuting in less than optimal conditions. Below is a list of tips and tricks I’ve developed over six consecutive years of commuting #onthecircuit:
Jonathan started walking and running on the trails in 1987 when he moved to the Jenkintown area, and from 2006-2012 biked about 19,000 commuting miles on the Circuit – 6,000 miles on the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT). To learn more about his journey, check out our previous Q&A with Jonathan here.
Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced an investment of $28 million for 176 projects across Pennsylvania! These projects include creating new recreational opportunities, conserving natural resources, revitalizing local communities and of particular interest to us, trail developments.
From this investment, the Circuit Trails received more than $2.46 million in grants for planning, designing and constructing trails! Several of these projects will also receive grant funding from DVRPC's Regional Trail Fund.
Below is the full list of Circuit Trails projects which received funding. You can find the full list of PA projects by clicking the following link: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_20031593.pdf
- In Morrisville Borough, $60,000 was granted for design of approximately 0.10 miles of the D&L Canal Trail crossing Bridge Street. The design will include drawings, specifications and other related documents.
Delaware County/Chester County
- $60,000 will be used to prepare a Comprehensive Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Plan for Chester City, Delaware County.
- Development of the Bridgeport Loop Trail in Bridgeport Borough was granted $331,000. The work will include construction of approximately 1.1 miles of trail from DeKalb Street between Fourth and Fifth streets, across the O'Neill Development Site, to DeKalb and West Front streets; ADA access, landscaping, project sign, signage and other related site improvements.
- $200,000 will be used to design approximately 3.5 miles of the Chester Valley Rail Trail in Upper Merion Township, Bridgeport, and Norristown boroughs, from South Gulph Road in Upper Merion Township to East Main Street in Norristown Borough.
- $160,000 will contribute to further developments of the Schuylkill River Trail in Lower Pottsgrove Township. The work will include construction of approximately 0.6 miles of trail from the Pottstown Borough line to the US 422 Bridge; ADA access, landscaping, project sign, signage and other related site improvements.
- Further development of the D&L Trail in North Catasauqua and Northampton boroughs will be granted $195,000. The work will include construction of approximately 1.3 miles of trail from Canal Park in Northampton Borough to the Lehigh County border in North Catasauqua Borough, pedestrian bridge, and culvert; ADA access, landscaping, project sign, signage and other related site improvements.
- Natural Lands Trust, Inc. will receive a $350,000 payment toward the acquisition of approximately 35 acres along the Tacony Creek in the City of Philadelphia for open space, passive recreation and access to the Tacony Creek.
- $400,000 in payment will go toward the acquisition of approximately 1.9 acres located along Frankford Creek in the City of Philadelphia for open space, passive recreation and the development of the Frankford Creek Greenway.
- $60,000 will be used to design approximately 1 mile of the Pennypack Trail in Philadelphia from the Interstate 95 Overpass to Rawn Street.
- Philadelphia City Treasurer Streets Department was awarded $400,000 to design approximately 2.1 miles of the Spring Garden Street Greenway from the Delaware River Trail to the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia.
- Philadelphia Department of Commerce was awarded $250,000 to further develop the Delaware River Trail in Philadelphia. The work will include construction of approximately 0.75 miles of trail from Washington Avenue to Pier 70 Boulevard; ADA access, landscaping, project sign, signage and other related site improvements.
Our friends at Bike Bucks County are making great strides in 2016 for bicycle advocacy across Bucks County. Bike Bucks County, an affiliate of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, started last March and is quickly gaining support from many advocates across the region. Their current mission is focused on making the Newtown Rail Trail a reality.
The Newtown Rail Trail is a proposed 8.4-mile trail that will connect users from the Newtown Borough all the way to the Pennypack Trail in Philadelphia, creating a vital link in the Circuit Trails. Bike Bucks County has been working with the Penn Tammany Greenway Coalition (PTGC), a volunteer group of residents in Bucks and Montgomery Counties whose mission is to transform SEPTA's Fox Chase - Newtown Line into a multi-use recreational trail.
Recently, the Bucks County Commissioners offered their support to design and engineer a plan for part of the Newtown Rail Trail. The cost for the design and engineering of the Upper Southampton part of the trail will be paid for through grants from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the William Penn Foundation. However, without the support of citizen and officials in each of the five municipalities, the complete trail will not be possible.
Over the last few months the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors delayed voting on a resolution to the formation of the trail. The reasoning behind the delay is wanting to hear from neighboring municipalities and area property owners near where the trail will run.
So far, Middletown Township and the George School are positive toward the idea, nevertheless there are still many others that have not voiced their opinions yet. This is why Bike Bucks County needs your help!
There are several ways residents are encouraged to get involved. One, sign the online petition here to ask the Bucks County Commissioner to implement the County Bicycle Master Plan that includes the Newtown Rail Trail. Another option is to attend a panel discussion this Wednesday, January 27th at 7 pm at Northampton Twp. Public Library, 25 Upper Holland Road, Richboro, PA 18954. For more information about the next panel discussion click here. Get involved to help make this incredible trail project a reality!
As you ride along the Camden Greenway, you may have noticed new trees and other foliage lining the trail. This greening of the Greenway is thanks to our friends at the New Jersey Tree Foundation! The NJ Tree Foundation, a Circuit Coalition partner, is continuing this effort in 2016 to give the Circuit Trails in Camden a face-lift through its Trees for Trails project. With support from the William Penn Foundation, the Trees to Trails project began in 2015 with the goal of beautifying the trails, parks and on-street bike paths throughout Camden.
In addition to creating beautiful scenery, there are many benefits to planting new trees along the trails. Did you know that removing the concrete and adding trees allows stormwater to filter naturally, therefore decreasing stormwater runoff that otherwise would end up in Camden’s combined sewer system where it contributes to flooding? Or did you know that an increased tree canopy can improve the air quality in the city of Camden?
This past year, the NJ Tree Foundation and its volunteers planted maple, dogwood and redbud trees as well as other beautiful plants along the various Circuit Trails throughout Camden. Since its inception in 2002, the NJ Tree Foundation has planted more than 6,000 trees in the Camden area. As part of the Trees to Trails Project in the spring and fall of 2016, the NJ Tree Foundation will host a series of tree planting events open to the Camden community and general public. Many of the trails are part of the Camden Greenway, which provides access to open space for recreational, educational and leisure activities for residents. If you haven’t tested out trails in Camden yet, check out the Circuit Trails map of Camden County and plan your route!
Do you have a green thumb and are interested in volunteering, donating or learning more about the NJ Tree Foundation? Visit their website at www.njtreefoundation.org or contact Senior Program Director Jessica Franzini at .
The big family-filled feast is around the corner and it’s easy to forgo your usual fitness routine in favor of food, football, friends and family. Here are some easy tips to get you outdoors #onthecircuit and beyond during this Thanksgiving holiday.
1. Participate in a Turkey Trot. Did you know that Thanksgiving Day is the most popular day to run? Thanksgiving actually surpasses the Fourth of July as the most popular race day. Philly Mag compiled a list of local Turkey Trots here. Not a runner? Most of the races also include a one-mile walk.
2. Plan a post-meal walk. Plan a walk with friends and family before the holiday rolls around, that way when the big day comes even if you’re feeling lethargic after a large meal, you can’t bail out! Check out the Circuit Trails map to find a trail near you.
3. Play flag football. Don’t have a big back yard? Not to worry, many of the Circuit Trails run through large green spaces that are perfect for setting up a little friendly competition.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate… with water! Of course all the festive cocktails, sparkling cider and seasonal wines are tempting, but it’s important to make sure you are still drinking enough water. Drinking water helps reduce hunger and will help you be ready for a workout the next morning #onthecircuit!
5. Schedule a workout for the next morning. Plan to meet one of your usual workout companions for an early morning bike ride, walk or run. You will feel much more awake and ready to take on the day.
Photo credit: Taylor Fleming. Follower her on Instagram at @fleming.philly.photog
Hey friends, the Newtown community needs your help! On Tuesday, September 8 we invite you to join us at the Newtown Borough Council Meeting where the Newtown Borough will consider a resolution to support the Newtown Rail Trail. The proposed trail will extend from Newtown all the way to the Montgomery County line, spanning 8 miles. The new trail would provide important connections to Pennypack Trail, Neshaminy Creek Trail (planned), Tamenend Park, and Churchville Reservoir.
If you are a borough resident and can’t make the meeting in person, please consider sending an email to Newtown Borough council members to voice your support. Or if you happen to see a council member around town, please share with them your support in favor of the new trail.
Citizen support for this multi-use trail has been led by the Penn Tammany Greenway Coalition. We also want to give a special thanks to the Bucks County Planning Commission for their hard work moving this project forward and to the Bucks County commissioners for supporting the creation of new bike and hike trails in Bucks County.
We hope you can join us at the council meeting. Every bit of action helps connect the Circuit and move trail development in the region forward!
Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 7:00-9:00 p.m.
The Chancellor Center
30 North Chancellor St
On Saturday, members of Cadence Youth Cycling, including 14 youth 7 adults, will kick off a 3-day, 2-night biking and camping sojourn weekend along the Circuit.
This event is organized by Cadence Youth Cycling and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. The purpose of the Sojourn is to explore a portion of the Circuit Trails, learn about local environmental organizations, watersheds, and have fun! will be attending this trip.
The ride will leave from Philadelphia, travel through Pottstown and stop for the night to camp in French Creek State Park. Eventually the group will go to Marsh Creek State Park, and travel back through Valley Forge to the Schuylkill River Trail.
Along the way, youth will be getting watershed education lessons from Tom McKeon of Rails-to-Trails and history lessons from one of the youth, Allen Williams, who’s done research and helped plan the route. Of the adults on the trip, three are bike mechanics and will be able to help if any bikes break down or need a tube change.
“My role has been to organize logistics for this trip, planning the route, making reservations, advising on lessons and activities for watershed topics, communicating with youth and parents, making sure all edges are smoothed over for a fun and happy time,” said Tom McKeon, Youth Engagement Coordinator at Rails-to-Trails.
“The idea for the sojourn trip came about when we brought the youth to Seattle for the Youth Bike Summit,” said Cy Maramangalam, Cadence Youth Cycling Program Manager. “At the bike summit, there were other organizations that had gone on bike tours with the youth and when our students saw that they said they wanted to bring that back to our region. And we were able to make it happen when we made the partnership with Rails-to-Trails.”
The 21 riders (14 youth 7 adults) will leave on Saturday, September 5 and return on Monday, September 7.