Having opened mere weeks from the official start of winter, the shared use path that follows the length of the 202 Parkway hasn't been used to the extent it will be as warm weather encroaches on our area.
I just recently had the chance to take a walk with my dog for a portion. I only went from the northern terminus at the New Britain Rd parking lot to just past the Travis Manion bridge that crosses Neshaminy Creek.
But it still gave me a chance to get a feeling for the path, both plusses and minuses, as I could experience things like the path switching sides of the road and how snow lasting longer on the bridges might be problematic.
It's a very nice path to walk, smooth as it should be and without any cracks or crumbles that the years will eventually create.
The one simply nice thing about the path is the way longtime Central Bucks residents get to experience things we've seen all our lives in a new way. The change in elevation when going over Almshouse Rd gives you a chance to see the DVC dairy much more in its entirety than you get simply driving past the entrance on Almshouse Rd.
And while you crossed the Neshaminy on Upper State or Lower State Rds, you merely had the sense that it existed in between those points and had to imagine what it looked like. Now the footpath on the Manion bridge gives you a way to see a part probably most of us had never seen.
You get to see some of these new vantages to a degree when driving (you can see the court house from just north of County Line Rd on a clear day), but a slower pedestrian pace really affords you the opportunity to appreciate them.
Additionally, if you're intrepid you can go further to the side and up grassy embankments that often border the path, an olfactory delight for canines who've had their masters give in to make the walk a little more cross country.
There are two great things about the path. If you have a dog, the path is ready for you. At the trailhead I discovered there are two dispensers of Mutt Mitts, a godsend as I'd forgetten Baxter's roll of bags was empty until we parked. And while he sadly only ended up eating poop instead of making it, it was still appreciated.
The other great thing is the pedestrian crossing buttons. When I pressed the button to cross 202 at Lower State, I was surprised to not only hear a confirmation chime, but see that a little red light came on. No more pressing the button over and over to make sure it 'took'! And while it's still somewhat odd that the trail doesn't stay on the same side the road, they've at least made those areas where it switches safe.
The only concern about the path is the accumulation of water and snow on longer bridges. While the road was long since free of snow, the walking path over the Manion bridge was still coated with snow and was slushy in some spots. There also seemed to be no way for it to drain, even though we were right over a creek.
It's not too tough to imagine trapped slush forming into a half-inch thick slab of ice overnight and catching an early morning runner unawares.
But overall, it's a very pleasant trail to make use of. As spring and summer come back, the trail should see greatly increased use, and judging by all the trees planted (some of which are only visible from the trail), it should be quite beautiful for everyone to get out and enjoy.