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New Boardwalk and Trail Turns Muddy Flood Plain to Useable Green Space

You may have noticed construction along the Schuylkill River Trail near the Fairmount Water Works over the past several months. The inconvenience of this trail closure is over, and a brand new section of the SRT and a boardwalk connecting a previously inaccessible island along the Schuylkill River is now open.

Visit the Fairmount Water Works Trail and Boardwalk destination page on GoPhillyGo to get directions to this amazing new green space. Android users can download the GoPhillyGo app to plan your trip and get notifications when you are near here and other great destinations along the SRT. Download the app today!

The Fairmount Water Works Trail and Boardwalk is between the Azalea Garden and Boathouse Row, just west of the Water Works. The area is prone to flooding and was largely inaccessible during rainy periods rendering it a muddy blemish along one of Philadelphia’s most traveled greenways.

You can once again follow the paved SRT around this area and continue west to Manayunk, Montgomery County, and beyond. The boardwalk is a great stopping point on your way in or out of the city. Visitors will find benches to relax and take in the scenic Schuylkill River as it flows around the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gaze up to the tops of the trees and you may see a red tailed hawk perched on a branch above.

A white rope fence is a gentle reminder to stay on the paved trail. The surrounding area is landscaped with native plants and carefully designed to capture and mitigate stormwater runoff. The walkway leading up to the boardwalk entrance uses permeable pavers, and the boardwalk is decked with black locust boards.

Years of humans avoiding this muddy flood plain turned it into a crucial habitat for eight different species of turtles including one that is endangered. The Philadelphia Fish and Boat Commission deemed the island to be a haven for the eastern red bellied turtle which is on the endangered species list. Parks and Recreation commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell described how the turtles were protected during construction.

”A qualified red bellied turtle biologist was required on site during the dredging process and performed an intensive capture and relocation program to remove the red bellied turtles and all the other turtle species found, ensuring their safety,” she said.

According to City Council President Darrell Clarke, the idea of  transforming this island into useable green space began a decade ago under the Street administration. Clarke describes meeting then Mayor Street there for runs along the SRT.

“As we were loosening up, he would always talk about this parcel here, and how it needed to be put to use,” Clarke said. “This is an awesome opportunity. We have found a way to take advantage of what nature has done.”

GoPhillyGo is the best way to plan a sustainable trip to the Fairmount Water Works Trail and Boardwalk. Click here to plan your trip!