by Zuri Hoffman
Not far from the bustle of City Avenue lies the remote and tranquil pathways of Cynwyd Heritage Trail.
Extending about two miles long, the trail leads from Cynwyd Station to the Manayunk Bridge and beelines alongside entrances to local landmarks such as Bala Cynwyd Park, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, as well as Westminster Cemetery. Two separate paths shape Cynwyd’s Trail: Tan Path for low intensity and Asphalt Path for high intensity users.
Unique from more populated trails in the city, Cynwyd is strikingly quiet. On a Thursday morning, spending 30 minutes on the trail, I passed only one runner and biker duo that didn’t stay in sight for long. Over head of the trail you’ll see power lines from where Reading Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad tracks once were. For me this was just a reminder that the city wasn’t too far away; with such a rustic setting, it’s easy to forget where you are for a moment.
Although the trail is quiet, you will find that the noise of people is replaced by the many sounds of birds chirping, bugs buzzing, creek water flowing and bushes rumbling from the animals that inhabit them. Hearing these sounds that vastly contrast with city living is what I found the most serene about Cynwyd’s path.
The main path soon divides into two, one that continues onto the cement trail, and the other that converts into a dirt, rocky, meadow pathway, hidden away from the sun itself. The secluded pathway is guarded by large trees and bushes. Even more deeply concealed alongside this pathway lies Vine Creek, which travels linear to the trail and also makes its way to Manayunk Bridge. Soon enough the short path meets the main cement trail once again, where the sun returns.
Hard to believe, but only a few short years ago, the trail would probably be unrecognizable to most. With the help of the strong Friends of Cynwyd Heritage Trial group which came about in 2008, the trail has been able to develop into the large, linear, multi-user park it is today. As one of the largest parks in the Lower Merion Township, the trail’s future improvements consist of a vehicle-free renovation of the Manayunk Bridge, allowing users a direct connection into Philadelphia.
For an hour of biking, walking or running, Cynwyd Heritage Trail makes an ideal spot for a little tranquility, just on the outskirts of the busy city.