5 Shaded Trails to Run Around Philadelphia This Summer

Want to run outside, even in the heat? Here are some expert-recommended routes.

Photograph of Forbidden Drive courtesy Friends of the Wissahickon.

Welcome to Run Week at Be Well Philly! Every day, we’ll bring you the best and the latest on info on running around Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more great running articles all week long!

Look, we will gladly choose pretty trails over treadmills every single day. But even we have to admit that sometimes the summer sun gets a little too intense for our taste, and we can’t help but start to think longingly of air-conditioned gyms.

Thankfully, not all trails are created equal — some of them are primarily shaded from the sun, which means we get to enjoy some of nature’s “air conditioning” while logging some miles.

If you’re not ready to quit your outdoor runs, even in the peak of summer heat, here’s a few Philly-running-expert-recommended shady trails that you can try.

Struble Trail 

Where: Downingtown, PA
What: A mostly paved, mostly flat 2.6-mile trail following the east branch of the Brandywine Creek
“It is pretty, shaded, and close to restaurants, breweries, and any post-run treat you want. Only downside is it is 2.6 miles long, so if you want more than five miles you have to leave the trail.” — Carl Ewald, executive director of Run Fest

Boxer’s Trail

Where: East Fairmount Park
What: A wide, almost-four-mile pathway through the woods.
“Boxer’s Trail has been one of my go-to runs from home. I love the feeling of being lost in the woods when really I’m right above Kelly Drive and all of the runners on the river loop.” — Liz Pagonis, outreach and marketing director at Philadelphia Runner

Forbidden Drive

Where: Wissahickon Valley Park
What: A mostly flat, 5.35-mile gravel trail through the Wissahickon Valley.
“Pretty much every section of the five miles has a shady option. Coming off of Forbidden Drive, there are miles of upper trails that run all though wooded areas of the park and provide ample shade.  In addition to the shade, the trails are stunningly beautiful and also include landmarks such as a red covered bridge, statues, and stone stairways.” — Schuyler Nunn, co-founder of iRuntheHill

Manayunk Towpath

Where: Manayunk Canal
What: A boardwalk, gravel, and paved two-mile path that connects to the Schuylkill River Trail for longer runs
“The Manayunk Towpath isn’t really a trail like the Boxers’ Trail or what you’d find in the Wissahickon, but it is a great for short or long runs. Along the way you’ll see old rail lines, canal locks, mills, and lots of wildlife.” — Liz Pagonis, outreach and marketing director at Philadelphia Runner

Yellow Trail

Where: Wissahickon Valley Park
What: A natural-surface, 7.89-mile trail that includes some steep inclines for those looking for a challenge.
“The Yellow or Orange trails are mostly shaded, with the sections over by Andorra Meadow being really pretty — all while being in the shade.” —Gary Brown Jr., co-founder of Chasing Trail

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