August 16, 2021
One of the reasons Philadelphia is so much more accessible than bigger cities like New York and Chicago is that virtually the entire city can be reached by bike. Also setting the city apart are the many unparalleled bike paths and trails that can be easily located within a 40-minute drive. While Philly's urban center isn't the greenest place on the East Coast, its parks and idyllic surroundings make it perfect for family rides.
Getting to the best paths and trails in Philly usually requires a little travel. Whether this means riding through the streets to the start of a path or packing the bikes in a car, it normally doesn't take long to get where you need to go. If you're a Philly resident, you probably know which areas are best avoided for safety reasons. If you aren't, just ask a local before heading out.
Because Philly is divided roughly into two halves by Spring Garden street, Spring Garden's marked path is the key to accessing many of the city's paths. When in doubt, check with GPS.
Boathouse Row Bike Path
Starting from Old City or Spring Garden street, it is possible to bike continuously along a well-marked bike path all the way through Manayunk. Right behind the art museum is the iconic boathouse row as well as a scenic river vista.
Wissahickon Valley Park and Forbidden Drive
Wissahickon Valley Park is an incredibly well-protected urban park that almost seems out of place so close to Philly's urban center. From Forbidden Drive or any other entrance, over seven miles of trails and dedicated mountain bike paths are available to intrepid visitors.
MLK Drive Path
MLK Drive Path is a popular alternative to many of the other paths on the other side of the river. MLK drive provides an equally scenic view of the Museum, city, and western parks.
Delaware Canal Path
The Delaware Canal Towpath is one of the area's most unique and iconic rides. For over 60 miles, visitors to Bucks County can tour the Delaware Canal, a nearly unaltered pre-civil war towpath once used for transporting cargo up and down the river. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the river host canal paths with vibrant, artsy river towns along the way.
Valley Forge National Historical State Park
The Philadelphia area is rife with American History. Still, Valley Forge stands out as a crucial wintering place for revolutionary forces during the Revolutionary War. The park is scenic and packed with fascinating monuments to the revolution.
Virtually any of the most popular Philadelphia rides can be shortened to suit family or leisurely rides. On the busiest days, however, they can sometimes feel part of the Tour de France. For simpler, shorter routes, try these instead:
The Centennial 5K Route
For bikers who want to get away from the most heavily trodden paths, the Centennial 5k route is a great short and relaxing ride. The path is easy to locate and is well marked to minimize navigational confusion.
Schuylkill Banks Path
The Schuylkill Banks path is a relatively new path that is perfect for casual riders and local runners looking for an easy way to get out in the city. The path features multiple viewpoints of the river and city.
The availability of excellent bike paths in and around Philadelphia is one of the best reasons to live in or visit the city. The area is also well-stocked with bike shops, rentals, and repair centers to keep you going. Of course, before heading out, make sure you are equipped with a reliable ride and high-quality safety gear.