Chester County Trail Update
Trail development and planning has grown over the past ten years. Trails have become more popular than ever providing not only recreational uses but also as key commuter routes. With gas prices at an all time high, trail development could play a major role in the way the people travel in Chester County.
Limited pedestrian and biking facilities such as sidewalks and trails have made us dependent on the automobile for access to recreation. To help lead our nation toward healthy eating and active living, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that municipalities build or enhance infrastructures to support more walking and bicycling.
County-wide Trail Inventory
Planning staff completed an update to the County-wide Trail Inventory in early 2012. The Trail Inventory is an accurate and comprehensive trail catalog of publicly accessible trails within Chester County. The inventory was created to assist municipalities in trail planning and tracking. Alignments included in the inventory are based on adopted municipal plans and studies, as well as additional input from land trusts, conservancies, other County departments and all 73 municipalities.
The update process was streamlined with the creation of the interactive map, allowing municipal and trail stakeholders to edit trail alignments and attributes online. When the first inventory was completed in 2009, the data had been used for a variety of planning projects including trail mapping, multi-municipal trail planning, comprehensive plan updates, and regional planning. By using the interactive map municipalities and trail stakeholder are free to view other trail alignments of other municipalities, which in turn can further assist in trail planning efforts and further develop the a county-wide trail network.
The public will be able to access the inventory via the County's Community Profiles showing key information about trails that are open to the public. Also available to the public is an Existing Surfaced Trails Map, which includes 276 miles of improved surfaced trails that are open to the public in 55 Chester County municipalities.
County Regional Trails
In addition to the County-wide Trail Inventory, Chester County is responsible for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining several regional trails, including the Chester Valley Trail, Schuylkill River Trail, and Struble Trail. Current information about each trail is provided below.
- Chester Valley Trail (CVT): The Chester Valley Trail is located at the heart of Chester County (Exton to Tredyffrin Township) providing recreational use but also a key means of transportation for commuters. Presently, there are 6.3 miles of trail open for public use. When completed, the CVT will consist of up to 14 miles of trail connecting to the Schuylkill River Trail in Montgomery County. The following map provides an overview of the CVT: Chester Valley Trail Overview map.
- Schuylkill River Trail (SRT): The Schuylkill River Trail is located along Chester County's northern borders. Currently there are 6.1 miles of trail open for public use from Phoenixville Borough to Parker's Ford. When completed the SRT will have approximately 13 miles of trail within the County and provide a critical segment to connect to Philadelphia and Pottsville PA. The following map provides an overview of the SRT: Schuylkill River Trail Overview map.
- Struble Trail: The Struble Trail is the County's oldest regional trail connecting Downingtown Borough to Marsh Creek State Park, as well as linking with the Uwchlan Trail. Presently, there are 2.6 miles of trail open to the public. The Struble Trail is planned to follow the historic rail bed for nearly 16 miles from its existing terminus to Honey Brook Borough. The following map shows the existing segment of the Struble Trail: Struble Trail map.
Multi-Modal Transportation Plans & Studies
Given the interest in trail planning, the Chester County Planning Commission developed a Trail & Path Planning Guide in 2007. Beyond the County's efforts, several municipalities and other groups have completed and adopted multi-modal plans with in the last 10 years. Below is a list of several examples of bicycle, pedestrian, and trail plans completed or underway within Chester County.
- Caln Township Connectivity & Mobility Study (PDF, 14 Mb)
- Central Chester County Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan
- New Garden Township Greenways Plan
- Paoli Trail Connections
- Patriots Path Feasibility Study
- Pocopson Township Community Trails Master Plan
- Thornbury Township Mobility Plan
- West Bradford Township Greenways, Trails & Gateways Plan