The Perkiomen Trail

The PA Highlands Trail Network (PHTN) conceptual trunk route will co-align with several existing trails of note. This is the fourth in a series of posts intended to introduce each of the proposed co-aligned PHTN trails beginning at the Delaware River and traversing the entire PA Highlands region to the Maryland border.
Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission
 The Perkiomen Trail is a 20-mile rail trail that follows the Perkiomen Creek along the former Reading Railroad line between Green Lane Park and Oaks,where it intersects with the Schuylkill River Trail and the Audubon Loop. The upper section of the 'Perk' runs through one of the iconic Highlands landscapes know as the "diabase belt." The dark, hard diabase boulders can be seen in Green Lane Park and further down where the trail curves around Spring Mount.

Efforts to develop the trail began in the mid-1980's when the Montgomery County Planning Commission envisioned the trail and investigated property ownership along the rail line. This author served as chair of the Perkiomen Trail Coalition, which saw representation from AMC, equestrians, local businesses, and the Perkiomen Watershed Association. The Coalition helped build support for the trail through outreach to communities along the Perkiomen Creek corridor. Unfortunately, the right-of-way ownership was extremely muddled, requiring the county to approach each property owner to secure easements for use of the rail bed as a non-motorized recreational trail. The trail was finally completed and dedicated in 2004 making it a twenty year effort to create one of the most attractive rail trails in eastern Pennsylvania.

The PA Highlands Trail will follow the Perkiomen Trail for most of its length as it will serve as a major connector between the Unami Hills Trail (still in the planning stage) and the Schuylkill River Trail. The later will allow the PA Highlands Trail to connect with the Horse-Shoe Trail at Valley Forge Park. Further into the future the PA Highlands Trail may bypass Valley Forge by following the Schuylkill River Trail up to Birdsboro where it would climb out of the river valley on a trail being planned to the Hopewell Big Woods and French Creek State Park. At that point the PA Highlands Trail would join the route of the Horse-Shoe Trail.