Schuylkill Banks Trail in the City of Brotherly Love
What a day! So many transitions. We left downtown Wilmington this morning and immediately found ourselves in nature on the Northern Delaware Trail — steep rock faces over the Brandywine Creek, steep stubby hills and twisty trails along a golf course and through woods.
The trail ended abruptly, comically really on the shoulder of a four-lane highway, but a quiet one with ample shoulders. The route got increasingly industrial as we entered Pennsylvania, with one quick respite in Chester on a short Greenway along the Delaware River in Chester.
Our most amazing transition was crossing over a highway cloverleaf into the John Heinz nature preserve. We bumped along for miles over gravel and dirt, past marshes and wildflowers, while traffic roared by on I-95 just out of our sight and airplanes took off from and landed at the Philly airport just beyond the highway.
From the nature preserve we hit working class streets on the outskirts of Philadelphia. We stopped at a corner eatery for superb cups of coffee. Our story inspired the man and woman working there; we could see the wheels turning as they processed what we were doing, as we have seen so many times in talking about our trip. “You’re doing what? At your age?” I pointed to the Greenway sign just out the door and told them they could take off whenever they were ready, south to Florida or north to Maine.
We stopped in Bartram’s Garden, an urban oasis with the preserved home and gardens of John Bartram, one of America’s earliest botanist. The beautiful acreage rolls down to the Schuylkill River, where a community boathouse offers kayaks and rowboats, all with a view of the city’s skyline.
Riding along the Schuylkill on the Greenway is a great treat. The trail is wide and hosts runners, walkers, and cyclists all day long. We rode past the art museum and the beautiful Water Works event venue to Cosmic Cafe, on the river beside the first of the rower’s boathouses. A plaque outside the cafe talks about the East Coast Greenway and notes that the mileage from Key West to Philly is 1,861 — sounds pretty good.
From the river we headed up the hill to the Spring Garden neighborhood to the home of my Greenway colleague, Daniel, and his girlfriend, Korin. They rented two city bikes for us to all to go to a meeting at a brewery about a stretch of the city’s Greenway. It was fun to ride through city streets, led by our friends, on a fall-like evening, feeling like part of this city’s interesting fabric.
Thanks for hosting us, Daniel and Korin!
It’s been a rich, full day. This Relive video offers a great snapshot of it all: