The Valley Forge to Philadelphia segment of the Schuylkill River Trail stretches 27 miles along the historic Schuylkill River, from downtown Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Museum of Art out to Montgomery County and Valley Forge National Historic Park. In Philadelphia, the trail uses Fairmount Park trails and the Manayunk Canal towpath. In Montgomery County, the trail follows a former Pennsylvania Railroad line. The trail is the spine of the Schuylkill River Heritage Corridor, a five-county area designated as both a State and National Heritage Area.
Originally conceived of by the Fairmount Park Commission, the trail route grew to include many municipalities. Montgomery County constructed the trail from the Philadelphia City line to Valley Forge National Historical Park. The Chester County Department of Parks and Recreation is currently planning the section between Phoenixville and Pottstown. The Schuylkill River Greenway Association is working on the sections from the Montgomery County line to Birdsboro and from Gibraltar into Reading. And finally, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation is managing the trail construction from the Water Works in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park and along the tidal section of the Schuylkill River, known as Schuylkill Banks. The Schuylkill River Greenway Association has detailed maps of each section along with construction up-dates on their website.
The river was once a major transportation resource that played a key role in the region's development. Evidence of several centuries of industrial use remain where river and canal navigation, quarrying of limestone and iron ore, and production of iron and steel have succeeded each other as mainstays of the region's economy.