The Area’s Best Bike Trails
Best for: Street bikers who want to get near nature
Why: “It’s easily accessible, it’s nice and flat, and it’s maintained on a monthly basis,” says Jay Gurcsik, a local biker and sales manager of Breakaway Bikes & Training Center in Center City. “It’s one giant loop so if you get lost you can find your way back.”
Length: 6.6 miles
Access: The trail begins across the street from Ridge Avenue in Manayunk, right before the entrance to Main Street, and ends at Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill.
West River/Kelly Drive Loop
Best for: Soaking up all things Philly (the river, the skyline, Boat House Row) while scoring a workout
Why: “It’s a perfect place to reconnect with the river,” says Danielle Gray, communications manager of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, and it’s always packed with other Philadelphians looking to score a sweat session in the great outdoors.
Length: 8.4 miles
Access: The path begins at Lloyd Hall, 1 Boathouse Row.
The Manayunk Towpath
Best for: Bikers looking for a nice day ride—with a lunch stop at one of Manayunk’s adorable restaurants or cafes.
Why: The Manayunk Canal runs parallel to Main Street and you can stop to refuel at one of Manayunk’s great lunch spots, like LeBus or Derek’s. Its surface varies between boardwalk, gravel, and hard ground.
Length: A portion of the 22-mile Schuylkill River trail, the Towpath parallels the Canal and the Schuylkill River and is 4.25 miles long.
Access: The Towpath is accessible from numerous access points along Manayunk’s Main Street, including Canal Park, Lock Street, Rector Street, and Green Lane.
The Centennial 5K Route
Best for: Inner city families and bikers who want to beat the crowds
Why: “It’s safe, it’s well marked, it’s paved, and it’s got some great cultural and historical sights,” says Rob Armstrong, a historic preservation specialist for the Fairmount Park system. It’s also a new trail, so it’s not as packed as the other better-known spots.
Length: 3.12 miles
Access: The trail begins behind the Please Touch Museum, continues on past the Japanese House, and then loops around the Centennial District.
Best for: Families and riders who want varied difficulty
Why: It’s got a great mixture of off-road challenges and pleasant street biking. “There are sections that go down into the woods, but some sections are paved and others have asphalt,” says Rob Armstrong.
Length: 3.8 miles
Access: Begin in East Fairmount Park at Strawberry Mansion and follow the Park down to Fountain Green Drive, where it connects with the Schuylkill River Trail. The trailhead begins 33rd and Diamond Street.
Best for: Speed workouts for inner-city bikers who don’t want to travel
Why: The trail is paved and mostly flat, with only a few slightly steep hills. It starts within city limits.
Length: 4.4 miles
Access: The trail begins right at the 63rd Street L stop on 63rd and Market.
Best for: Riders who want varied difficulty.
Why: There are singletrack, doubletrack, paved roads, and dirt roads.
Length: There are more than 9 miles of paved trail and many more miles of unpaved trails, so it’s a great place to explore.
Access: 8500 Pine Road (though there are several park access points).
Delaware Canal Towpath
Best for: Cyclists who want a ride with lots of changing scenery
Why: The Delaware Canal gravel bike trail extends from Bucks County all the way into New Jersey and has 11 different options of loop length and distance. “There’s plenty of parking and it’s just a great, bicycle-friendly, gravel towpath,” says Paul Turner, general manager for Bucks County Bicycle in Levittown.
Length: 60 total miles
Access: Loop trail connection bridges can be found in the towns Uhlerstown, Lumberville, Center Bridge, Washington Crossing, and Morrisville.
Best for: Biking enthusiasts interested in a daylong ride.
Why: Most of the trail is only 10 feet wide with a cinder or stone aggregate surface. Along the way, expect open fields, wooded hillsides and plenty of watering hole trailheads as you travel alongside Perkiomen Creek.
Length: 19 miles
Access: The trail follows the Perkiomen Creek and connects Lower Perkiomen Valley Park, Central Perkiomen Valley Park, and Green Lane Park. Find multiple access points here.
Valley Forge State Park
Best for: An hour or two of easy biking near nature.
Why: Many of the trails are paved and flat.
Length: There are more than 20 miles of biking trails in the park including 12 miles of flat, unpaved trails. For a paved trail, head to the south side of the park for the 6.6-mile Joseph Plumb Martin Trail.
Access: The park is located 1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia.
Ridley Creek State Park’s Multi-Use Trail
Best for: Families looking to cruise together
Why: The trail is paved, flat, and has a 15mph speed limit.
Length: 4.6 miles
Access: The park is located at 351 Gradyville Road, Newtown Square, and the multi-use trail begins at the intersection of Barren Road and Chapel Hill Road.
Blue Marsh Lake
Best for: Lots and lots of high-quality mountain biking.
Why: People come from all over to bike Blue Marsh, and it was rated one of the top ten bike trails in the country by Men’s Health. “You’ll be biking through woods, fields, forests—I mean, this park has it all,” says Chief Ranger John Cave. Difficulty varies from beginner to advanced-intermediate.
Length: 30 miles
Access: 1268 Palisades Drive, Leesport.
Brandywine Creek State Park
Best for: The novice or hardcore mountain biker.
Why: Located at the edge of the Delaware border, Brandywine creek laces its way through Chester County and links to the Delaware River. Trails here range from steep hills and rough terrain to smooth, flat joy rides.
Length: 14 miles of accessible trails
Access: 47 Adams Dam Road, Wilmington.
Bellevue State Park
Best for: Non-bikers who want to get out of the city and need gear
Why: Bellevue has free two-hour bike rentals at a first-come, first-serve basis from 8am-2pm. The bikes are available at the park office, which is located at 800 Carr Road. Trails range from easy to difficult.
Length: 2.2 miles of unpaved trails, 1.6 miles of paved trails.
Access: 800 Carr Road, Wilmington.
White Clay Creek State Park
Best for: Serious mountain biking
Why: “There’s a whole network of good trails here,” says Chad McCurdy of Guy’s Bikes in Langhorne. “You could ride for a good three hours and not hit the same trail. It’s also really well maintained and well marked.”
Length: Of the 36 total miles of trails within White Clay, 22 miles are bike trails.
Access: 750 Thompson Station Road in Newark, Delaware.
— Research by Matthew Dancis and Joseph Vozzelli