More runners, walkers and bicyclists than ever before are getting exercise and enjoying the scenery of the Schuylkill River Trail as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“Attendance is about 250 percent higher than usual,” said Robert C. Folwell, trails manager for the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area, based in Pottstown.
“We have never been more popular,” Folwell continued. “The trails are all open and have been so busy. Everyone is out enjoying the trails. It’s good for your mental health. Attendance is way up."
The Schuylkill River Trail has more than 75 miles of paths extending from Frackville in Schuylkill County through Berks, Montgomery and Chester counties to Philadelphia.
Folwell said there are 30 signs posted along the trails in Berks alerting walkers, runners and bicyclists to practice social distancing by staying 6 feet apart from one another. He said there are 10 signs posted along the trails in Schuylkill County.
In Berks and Schuylkill counties there are 30 miles of completed trails, including a 20-mile stretch from Reading to Pottstown, known as the Thun Trail.
In upper Berks and Schuylkill counties, there is a 7-mile trail from Hamburg to Auburn, known as the John B. Bartram section. The trail also has a 1.5-mile section in Landingville and a 1.5-mile section in Schuylkill Haven.
Folwell said users are required to wear masks and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which include bringing water, washing hands, carrying hand sanitizer and planning that public restrooms may be closed.
Miica Patterson, Schuylkill River Greenways spokeswoman, reminded trail users not to litter.
“Increased trail use comes with an increase in litter,” Patterson said. “Please remember to bring your trash with you.”
Patterson also recommended people use the trails close to home.
“We encourage people to use the trails that are within 15 minutes of their homes,” she said. “More people are using the trails, and we love that, but we want to keep people safe."
Patterson recommended trail users go out early in the morning when the trails are less crowded.
"It's springtime, and everyone wants to go out," she said. "If you go to a trail and see that it is busy, try to go back at a different time."
As a result of the pandemic, Schuylkill River Greenways has announced that the 22nd annual Schuylkill River Sojourn scheduled from June 6-12 has been tentatively rescheduled to Aug. 15-19.