The Schuylkill River Trail, America's Best Urban Trail, in Center City. Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission.

The Schuylkill River is closing out the summer in grand style and getting national attention as a premier destination for urban nature lovers.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia Water joined officials and groups from across the region on the river's banks to celebrate the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT) being named America's “Best Urban Trail” by USA Today. The now 65-mile pathway connecting Philadelphia and the upper reaches of the river won the top honor in an online voting campaign held earlier in the summer, and the designation has helped bring a spotlight to the SRT's scenic and functional qualities.

Eventually, the trail will grow to about 130 miles and connect the city and Pottstown in Montgomery County. The recent restoration of the Schuylkill Canal Towpath in Upper Providence Township is another win for the trail that added some fresh ground for cyclists and hikers to explore.

John Quigley, secretary of the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, was at the Wednesday celebration and said the Best Urban Trail status points to a growing appreciation for the river—something he hopes will translate to more people advocating for the environmental health of the Schuylkill.

“What we’re celebrating is not just about recreation. This project is about building a constituency for the river,” Quigley told Mercury News, which covered the event. Check out the full Mercury story here

For Philadelphia Water and partners like the Schuylkill Action Network and the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, the national recognition is proof that decades of working to improve water quality is paying off.
The river also got lots of attention during last week's successful INVISIBLE RIVER fest(Sorry, this content is no longer available), and, as demonstrated by this Sept. 2 photo of Bassmaster champs Mike Iaconelli and Takahiro Omori on the Schuylkill, the waterway is even attracting professional fishermen from places as far away as Japan:

Takahiro Omori on the Schuylkill.
Mike Iaconelli & Takahiro Omori above the Columbia Ave. Railroad Bridge via Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers.

Omori, who was in the area for the 2015 Bassmaster Elite at Chesapeake Bay, came up to Philly and reportedly had an action-packed day of fishing on the river thanks to the Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers association, which helped him explore some of their favorite spots.

Speaking of fishing, don't forget to sign up for the Philly Fun Fishing Fest on Sept. 12registration closes Sept. 10! RSVP by clicking here.(Sorry, this content is no longer available)

For more on America's Best Urban Trail, give this blog a read: 10 Ways to Celebrate the Schuylkill River Trail’s Designation as Best Urban Trail