*Update on 02/28/23: Part of the Boxers’ Trail will be temporarily closed to remove several dead hazard trees, mainly along the new section of trail. The hazard trees are mostly dead ash trees impacted by emerald ash borer. The work is anticipated to take about 2 weeks to complete.
Fairmount Park Conservancy is beginning improvements on a ¼-mile stretch of Boxers’ Trail in East Fairmount Park, moving an eroding cliff-side stretch behind Rockland Mansion further upslope.
The entire 3.8 mile long trail, where Smokin’ Joe Frazier famously once trained, will remain open during most of the upgrade process, with brief disruptions during heavy equipment days.
The improved stretch of the Boxers’ Trail, located 240 feet further inland, will be seamlessly incorporated into the path that stretches from Fountain Green Drive near Kelly Drive to Reservoir Drive near Edgeley Drive and the park’s historic mansions. It is expected to be complete in September, according to Tara Rasheed, Senior Project Manager for Fairmount Park Conservancy. Once the first phase of work is finished, the old trail will be made impassable using fallen timbers and allowed to return to its natural state.
Funding for the project has been provided by the Mayor’s Fund through the William Penn Foundation, which will also be used to remove hazard trees along the trail and to clear dead wood from old growth canopy trees later this year.
In Spring 2023, the Conservancy will complete the project with forest restoration work involving new plantings.
The Boxers’ Trail is an important part of both Philadelphia sports and the Conservancy’s histories. World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Frazier included runs along Boxers’ Trail in his training routine. He famously faced off against Muhammad Ali three times, winning the first bout, 1971’s “Fight of the Century,” by unanimous decision.
The Conservancy’s first project in collaboration with Fairmount Park involved Boxers’ Trail improvements more than 20 years ago. More recently, the Conservancy partnered with local agency Little Giant Creative in 2020 to install a new-and-improved Boxers’ Trail Gateway, featuring a boxer’s silhouette. Nearby information panels provide details about the careers of Frazier, Bennie Briscoe, Bernard Hopkins, and Matthew Saad Muhammad and tips on fundamental boxing moves.
Looking for a fun way to experience the Boxers’ Trail? Register to run or walk the annual Boxers’ Trail 5K scheduled for Sept. 17, 2022. Race proceeds fund youth programs in Strawberry Mansion.