The Greater Philadelphia Area offers a network of recreational trails with something to please everyone — serious road cyclists, weekend mountain bikers and tourists alike have access to an unprecedented network of trails.
Many of the these trails can be found in Philadelphia’s diverse park system. But because they touch on urban and suburban neighborhoods, you never have to go hungry or pack a lunch.
Whether enjoying a leisurely or intense bike ride, here is a list of five great biking trails and options for hungry riders to indulge in afterward.
1. Wissahickon Valley Park Trail (Forbidden Drive)
The Trail: Just a ten-minute drive from Center City Philadelphia, you’ll find Wissahickon Valley Park. It’s an expansive 1,800 acres of meadows and forest through which the Wissahickon Creek meanders.
Wissahickon Valley Park is comprised of many trails, but we’re focused on the award-winning 5-mile trail called Wissahickon Valley Park Trail or more commonly referred by locals as “Forbidden Drive.” This trail was recently named by Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as Trail of the Year.
The Food: After pedaling away, reward yourself with lunch at the historic Valley Green Inn, established in the late 1600s. On warm days, you can hang out on the porch and sip on a refreshing beverage and delight your taste buds with a summer that offers flavors of butternut squash and candied pumpkin seeds.
If it’s a touch chilly, go inside and bask in the warmth of the wood fire. Give in to comfort foods — brioche grilled cheese, prime rib cheesesteak or an Angus beef burger.
And if it’s Sunday, you’re in for a treat. The Food Network ranks the Inn’s brunch among their “best of” series. Looking for a quick snack? There is also a food stand attached to the Inn with quick bites.
2.The Schuylkill River Loop
The Trail: This ride is popular among locals. It’s relatively flat and full of the sites of Philly — the river, mansions, Fairmount Water Works and Boathouse Row.
Meet your cycling buddies at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and go north along the Schuylkill River’s banks through Fairmount Park. Pedal across one of the bridges and come back on the other side of the river to finish the loop.
The Food: Pick up some snacks at Lloyd Hall, the public athletic center which has a café inside (on the loop). Or consider stopping at near-by Sabrina’s Café on 1804 Callowhill Street for some comfort food — thick-cut challah French toast with all the goodies — bananas, cream cheese and syrup.
Plus, there’s a full array of vegan options, soups salads and sandwiches. For a more upscale option, try the near-by Urban Farmer, a farm-to-table restaurant in the Logan Hotel.
3.Valley Forge National Park
The Trail: Venture a short distance outside of the city of Philadelphia to take a trip through history at Valley Forge National Historic Park, where the Continental Army camped out in the winter of 1777-78. You’ll find 19 miles of biking trails, the most popular of which is the five-mile paved inter-loop around the park.
Start at the visitor center and follow it as it takes you past recreated log huts, rows of canons, historical monuments, the National Memorial Arch and the Washington Memorial Chapel. Plus, there are plenty of scenic views and hills to test your mettle.
The Food: Cap off your ride into history with lunch or a late breakfast just down the road at the homey G-Lodge in Phoenixville (about a mile away). Built in 1928, it’s a small log cabin with exposed wood beams and an old stone fireplace.
The G-Lodge is essentially a rustic diner, serving up satisfying home-cooked comfort food — specialty omelets, soups, sandwiches and more.
They close early (around 2:00 or 2:30pm), so if it’s a little later, perhaps travel a little further to Black Powder Tavern (in a historic 1746 tavern) featuring a modern-American upscale tavern experience, including soup, chicken wings, quesadilla, salads, and burgers.
4. Boxer’s Trail
The Trail: If you’re a novice mountain biker who is not quite ready to tackle the mountain or just wants a leisurely jaunt, tree-lined Boxer’s Trail might be right for you. It’s partially paved, crushed stone, or asphalt that’s mostly flat and generally not congested.
Boxer’s Trail winds almost four miles around East Fairmount Park, overlooking the Schuylkill River and taking you past mansions built in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. The trail begins at Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course.
The Food: After your ride, refuel at Cosmic Café on Boathouse Row. It’s a cozy café with plenty of outdoor seating that offers fresh, organic breakfasts and lunches with ingredients sourced locally.
It’s all served up fast and at reasonable prices. And on a nice day, you can relax on the outdoor patio which overlooks the Schuylkill River.
5. The Manayunk Towpath/Schuylkill River Trail
The Trail: The Philadelphia-to-Valley-Forge section of the Schuylkill River Trail includes the Manayunk Towpath, which is just two miles long. This part of the trail changes from hard surface to gravel to the boardwalk.
Despite the challenge of varying surfaces, it’s a fun stretch because it runs along the river and the canal. As you ride, you’ll see canal locks, textile mills and perhaps some eastern painted turtles sunning themselves on the canal’s banks.
Plus, you’ll have access to Manayunk. This charming town mixes Victorian homes and old mill buildings.
It offers a medley of boutique stores that sell everything from artwork and antiques to cycling accessories and distinctive clothes.
The Food: You can stop in Main Street Manayunk to find a myriad of food options for brunch, including Winnie’s, SOMO, Bourbon Blue, Couch Tomato, Lucky’s Last Chance, Greg’s Kitchen, and more.
If you are looking for an additional venture or if you are heading from the Manayunk Tow Path toward Center City, you can instead stop on the way to fuel up at Kelly Drive at a bike-friendly restaurant called In Riva, with pizza, tapas, and small plates.