2019 Running Travels: Two trails in Pennsylvania’s Greater Americana Region

Here’s a view from my run on the Union Canal Towpath Trail, with Tulpehocken Creek at left. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

As part of my job with Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism, I attend Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance meetings and annual MATPRA Media Marketplaces.

Our county is one of numerous members, who are each from different tourism organizations in the Mid-Atlantic states. MATPRA brings us all together for a common purpose of promoting the Mid-Atlantic as a tourism destination.

I enjoy being part of the group, and through my involvement, I also get to further explore new-to-me areas in the Mid-Atlantic in my free time. I’ve been able to run in most of the locations I’ve traveled to for MATPRA — including Wilmington, Winchester, Arlington and Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands.

Of course, before traveling to Pennsylvania’s Americana Region, which includes Berks County and Reading, I looked at what trails were in the area. The Pennsylvania’s Americana Region tourism website has a list of the region’s trails.

Here I am running in the Schuylkill River Trail in this posed photo.

It turned out the Schuylkill River Trail was very close to the hotel where I stayed for the MATPRA quarterly meeting, which was Jan. 18. I needed to get a long run in, so I decided to run to the Schuylkill River Trail and follow that to the Union Canal Towpath Trail.

I’ve actually run on the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia many years ago, but this was, of course, a different portion of the trail. The trail has different sections, and they are not all connected (see a map here).

The trail was paved and very quiet. Of course, it was the middle of the day on a Friday — the meeting I attended ended at 2 p.m., and I ran afterward — so it made sense why it wasn’t very crowded. I could see the Schuylkill River from the trail.

I entered the trail near Penn Street, and there was construction going on, so if I’d wanted to go the other direction, I may have had to cross the street and enter on the other side. However, I’d decided ahead of time to check out the Union Canal Towpath Trail, so I was heading the other direction.

I followed the Schuylkill River Trail up to a bridge, which I crossed. At this point, there was signage directing me, and I followed it.

Here’s an example of Schuylkill River Trail signage. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

The trail connected to the Union Canal Towpath Trail. It had snowed the night before, so there was still snow on parts of this trail. Along this trail — much of the part I ran had a crushed-stone surface — I saw some interesting bridges. It’s also along the water — Tulpehocken Creek.

The Union Canal Towpath Trail is six miles long, according to the Berks County website. I didn’t run the entire trail because I had already run more than three miles to get to the start of the trail. I turned around once my watch hit seven miles.

Here’s a photo I took while running on the Union Canal Towpath Trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I didn’t notice public bathrooms along either trail on the parts I ran — one at a park was closed for the winter — but on my way back, I saw some vending machines in the area of Gring’s Mill Recreation Area and decided to see if there was a bathroom nearby. Thankfully, there was! This made the last five miles more pleasant, and I was able to speed up some after making the stop. It was also starting to get dark as I neared the end of my run.

Once I got to the towpath, it still wasn’t what I would consider crowded, but there were some other people out.

Here’s one of the bridges I saw during my run on the Union Canal Towpath Trail. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I was planning to run 14 miles for my marathon training, and I got all 14 miles in. It’s always nice to have a new, interesting location for a long run. My legs were sore after this run and in the runs I did the following days. However, after making sure to get some rest days in, I think I’m back to normal now.

I know this is graffiti, but my sister and I grew up watching “Hey Arnold” and loved the show enough that we still have traditions of Arnold cookies and pancakes, so I had to include this photo. (Vanessa Junkin photo)
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