One Trail, Four Ways: 4 Lovely Bike Rides Along the SRT (With Maps!)

This month, cycle along one of Philly’s greatest outdoor treasures: the Schuylkill River Trail. 

Illustration by Sunny Eckerle

It’s no secret the Schuylkill River Trail is a local gem. In 2015, USA Today named the snaking path, with more than 60 miles of completed trail, the “Best Urban Trail in America.” And that was before two new bridges crossing the river—the Manayunk Trail Bridge and Sullivan’s Bridge—popped up alongside it, connecting it to even more trails in the area. Been a while since you explored? Here are four glorious bike routes along the SRT, all starting and ending at Boathouse Row’s Lloyd Hall. Time to dust off that Schwinn.

For a quick spin: The Falls Bridge Loop (See map of route here.) 
Distance: 9.4 miles round trip
As you make your way up Kelly Drive toward East Falls, veer right and grab a breakfast pizza at trailside eatery In Riva. Then turn left onto Falls Bridge, your pivot point for this breezy route, to catch the wide-open MLK Drive. (A portion of the road closes to cars on weekends through October.) Going south, cut into Fairmount Park and head to Belmont Plateau (signs will lead you there) to soak in some of the city’s best views.

For a change of scenery: The Manayunk Out-and-Back (See map of route here.)
Distance: 14 miles round trip
Thanks to cute turtles and ducks plodding along the trail’s periphery, the ride to the Manayunk Canal Towpath is an easy way to transport yourself from the city slog in just 40 minutes. Before heading back, stop at Pretzel Park to take a quintessential Philly selfie—a snap with the giant soft-pretzel statue.

For the views: The Sullivan’s Bridge Ride (See map of route here.)
Distance: 40 miles round trip
It’ll take about two hours to get to this year-old bike-and-pedestrian bridge, but once there, you have access to 21 miles of lush trail in Valley Forge National Historical Park (by way of a 602-foot trip across the Schuylkill) and gorgeous vistas galore. On the second leg, rest and caffeinate at Conshy bike shop Riverbend Cycles, which is home to a sweet cafe.

For a day trip: The Phoenixville Ride (See map of route here.)
Distance: 53.5 miles round trip
Carve out at least six hours for this jaunt. About halfway through your trek, make a pit stop at Conshohocken Brewing Company, where you can enjoy a brew and bite on the spacious deck. Once you hit Phoenixville, visit the historic Colonial Theatre to catch a flick and give your calves a well-deserved break before riding home.

Originally published as “One Trail, Four Ways” in the September 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine. 

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