So the weather has finally started to improve and you are looking to take your cardiovascular workout from the treadmill to the pavement. If you are a seasoned runner then most likely you are familiar with Philly’s running trails. However, for novices that haven’t experienced all of what Philly has to offer in terms of outdoor running, we visited the top 5 running trails in the city and assessed their pros & cons. So whether you prefer running at night, city views, or easy accessibility, we got you covered.
Ben Franklin Bridge
What we liked: First and foremost this running trail boasts the best views. There are excellent spots along the bridge where you can take in spectacular views of the city while you catch your breath. For you Instagram junkies this means a prime prime location for selfies. In addition to the views the path itself is surprisingly wide where bikers and other runners can pass with ease. The bridge also has plenty of lighting for night time runs. When returning to the Philly side, you’ll find that this trail is conveniently located near old city where plenty of eateries can be found to recharge and rehydrate.
What we didn’t Like: Parking is and will always thorn in the side of any city dweller and visitors alike. This running trail is located near street parking, but unfortunately it is in a popular part of town so you may find yourself circling the neighborhood trying to find parking. As for you long distance runners the bridge is just shy of 2 miles each way, so if you are training for a marathon be prepared to either run laps or finish your run in the surrounding neighborhood.
The Forbidden Trail
What we liked: If you are jaded by cityscapes, this is the trail for nature lovers. The trail runs predominately along the the Wissahickon Creek so the soothing sounds of flowing water adds to the nature ambiance. This may not be a factor since most people listen to music while they run, but we propose taking off the ear buds and take in the sights and sounds. This 7 mile stretch located in Wissahickon Valley park is also great for those that love to run long distances.
What we didn’t like: Accessibility can be a pain here. Many of the lots are on west side of Lincoln drive so if you are heading north from Kelly Dr. or 76 you may find it a pain to have to make a U-turn. This is however, a minor inconvenience. In addition there aren’t any shops along the way to stop in for emergencies or to get hydrated. Our other qualm is that this place is not suitable for night time runs.
Penny Pack Park
What we liked: Straddling the boarder or Philadelphia and Montgomery County, this trail runs just over 2 miles. As with The Forbidden Trail, Penny Pack is for nature lovers. Offering soothing creeks, quaint bridges, and an abundance of wildlife, this is a great place to forget all your outside troubles. Of all the trails we visited it, it seemed that this trail was the liveliest in terms of people running, walking, biking, and even fishing. In addition this trail is easily acessible and you should have no issues with parking. We were able to find a spot directly in front of its many entry points.
What we didn’t like: As with any nature trail, there is no night time running at Penny Pack. In addition some parts of this park can be considered “sketchy,” so we suggest exercising alertness and common sense. Penny Pack is also located in the north east so for those living closer into town, it may be a hassle to make your way there, but it is definitely worth the trip.
Penn Treaty Park/Delaware Ave.
What we liked: Views, night time running, and local vendors close by, this place pretty much hits everything on our “what we liked” list. The park itself serves more of starting and stopping point as it has a free parking lot and benches to warm up and stretch. Most runners then head out to Delaware Ave., which is perfect for those running at night and like shops to stop in for drinks, supplies, or to use a restroom. The water views are great and the vibe is vibrant for those city slickers that are not huge fans of nature trails.
What we didn’t like: The park pales in comparison to other parks we listed so don’t expect to be prepared for the Tough Mudder after doing a lap here. Also, this park does attract a lot of families, so expect to have people in your way from time to time. When running along Delaware Ave. we advise caution at it is a high traffic area and is not the safest of places when trying to cross.
Boathouse Row/Kelly Dr.
What we liked: This is the most well rounded trail on the list. Parking? check. Night time running? check. Vendors and restrooms? check. Nature features? check. Cityscapes? check. This spot is a runners utopia as this trail offers everything a runner could ask for. The trail itself is a flat surface, however there are areas along the drive were runners can veer off into inclines in the surrounding park. In addition we felt this place gives you that classic Philadelphia feel when you are in the boathouse row area. If you want to give it that extra cheesy Philly feel, you can end your run on the top of the Art Museum steps.
What we didn’t like: The area around boathouse row and the water works can get really congested with families and people leisurely walking.