7 Places to Run Outside of the Pope Zone This Weekend

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge | Photo via Flickr

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge | Photo via Flickr

The bad news: Pope Francis’s visit to Philly this weekend may screw up some of your running plans. The good news: There are plenty of other places to run in the area that are well out of dodge, as far as the Pope goes. With help from Alon Abramson, leader of West Philly Runners and the mastermind behind the super helpful website, Run Philly, we found seven solid bets for glorious outdoor runs that’ll let you escape from the Pope frenzy. 

1. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum: You know that pretty marshy area across from the airport? That’s a wildlife refuge with excellent running possibilities — specifically, a 8.2-mile loop with gorgeous skyline views of the city (see above) and opportunities to see all manner of wildlife, from bald eagles to deer. And since I-95 is pretty much the only major highway open this weekend, it’s a solid bet for a Pope-less run.

2. FDR Park: This South Philly park by the Stadium Complex is a surprising diversion, with a pretty pond and boathouse look at. One lap around the pond is about 1.5 miles, so you can do as many laps as you please until you reach your desired run length.

3. Pennypack Park Trail: If you follow Be Well Philly on Instagram, you know I spent part of my day last Sunday exploring Pennypack Park, and I must say, it was an amazing escape. Like the Wissahickon, the main path, which is paved, is flanked by tall, gorgeous trees and follows a bubbling creek that winds through the woods. But unlike the Wissahickon, it’s waaaaay less crowded. Win-win, if you ask me.

4. Delaware River Trail: I reached out to the folks at the at the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, who told the running path along the Delaware should be wide open this weekend. If you’ve never run it, access it from the Walmart parking lot (of all places, I know) and head north.

5. Boxer’s Trail: This trail is located just above of the Pope zone in East Fairmount Park, but we think you’ll be able to access it if you come from the north. Follow the course of the Boxer’s Trail 5K: Start and end at Diamond Street, loop around Edgely Field, then hit the trail. (The trail itself is 3.8 miles long.)

6. Tacony Creek Park: Explore this lesser-known park in Northeast Philly that feels miles away from the city (and, we assume, the Pope madness).

7. Cobbs Creek Park: This pristine West Philly park stretches about four miles from 63rd and Market to 70th and Chester. In addition to the paved multi-use trail, there’s plenty of uncharted terrain to explore: trails that wind down to the creek and, for history nerds, Mount Moriah Cemetery, a 19th-century graveyard whose overgrown and crumbling tombstones have an eerie Secret Garden vibe.

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