The Best Trails for Running Around Philadelphia During the Winter
Neither cold temperatures nor a little snow will stop Philly runners.
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We know there are some hardcore runners out there that don’t let a little bit of snow — or frigid temperatures — get in the way of their endorphin highs. That’s why we did some digging, chatted with the pros, and collected the rundown on running in Philly when the mercury drops. Remember, safety and warmth first when you’re winter running, friends! Make sure to be properly dressed when you head out — think cold-weather leggings, a mask for when you can’t socially distance, and some type of head gear.
For a Journey Through the Woods
“My favorite time to run in the Wissahickon Valley is during the snow. My favorite run starts off from the Jannette Street trailhead and turns left at the Yellow Trail. The Yellow Trail will take you through the woods and across smaller creeks and waterspouts, as well as through a newly constructed part of the trail system. Continue on the Yellow Trail until you get to the entrance for the Houston Meadow. Now you’re in one of the prettiest parts of the park — be sure to take a selfie. Keep going until you get to the hill that we call ‘Mother.’ You’ll end up on the Forbidden Drive, continue across the street (Bells Mill Road) and take the first trail on your left. This trail will take you to the Andorra Meadow. Some would argue this is the most beautiful and environmentally important feature of the park, and it’s also amazing in the snow! Finally, after you loop back to Forbidden Drive, you can enjoy the creek views on your way back to Jannette Street. The entire distance is close to a half-marathon, but you can chop it where you want.” — Gary Brown Jr., leader/co-founder of Chasing Trail. Check out a map of Gary’s path here.
For a Break from the City
Where: French Creek State Park in Elverson
“Located one hour northwest of the city, French Creek is easy to get to and peaceful in the winter, with a nice big lake. This is definitely a hilly park, so I would avoid it if there’s significant snow.” — Carl Ewald, founder of Run Fest, race director for the Great American Brewery Runs, and expert hiking guide
For the “On Top of The World” Vibes
“I love seeing the Wiss covered in snow from up high! The Orange Trail from Valley Green is my jam. I take that up to the Toleration Statue and get an awesome north-south view of the valley with the trees and river covered in snow.” — Charles Scogna, owner of Fit Warrior Athletics (formerly Charge Performance and Wellness)
For a City and Fairmount Park Run
Where: Martin Luther King Drive Trail, aka West River Drive
West River has been closed during the coronavirus pandemic. “When it snows, the trees are all a stunningly bright white! I’ll run and dodge snowflakes on the path until I reach Sweet Briar Drive and take a right, then another right onto — you guessed it — Landsdowne Drive and climb that hill until I’m running under the Smith Memorial Arch and along the Avenue of the Republic until I reach The Please Touch Museum. These lush lawns and open green spaces covered in snow are a beautiful sight to see. After a few photos and a cartwheel or two in the snow, I head back down Black Road until it meets the West River Drive path again and run my way back home. This is about a seven-mile route and is just enough time out on the trails to get lost in the beauty of the winter weather before your fingers and toes are begging you to head indoors for a nice warm cup of joe!” — Suzanne Allaire, founder of the Philadelphia November Project
For Some Time Spent on a Trail Less Traveled
Where: The Manayunk Canal Towpath in Manayunk
“This is truly an amazing spot: It’s underused — less people is always a plus in my book because I like to tune out the world and tune into nature and my breath — it’s beautiful, and it’s super easy to get to. If I’m doing a long run, I’ll just run from the Schuylkill into Manayunk and connect onto the trail. If it’s a shorter run, I’ll just drive to Manayunk, park right on Main Street (there’s parking right by the entrance), and jump onto the trail. I love it because you run by a river, around cute bends and under bridges. You see a lot of art and graffiti, and you can even climb out onto the dam (although probably not if it’s snowing and slippery!). Running on the trails can shield you from the bulk of any bad weather and create a really picturesque experience.” — Amandah Povilitus, personal trainer, founder of Shift Wellness, and trainer at Fitler Club
For a Snow-Filled Jaunt in the Wiss (if enough snow actually falls)
Where: Chestnut Hill Avenue and Seminole Street in Wissahickon Valley Park
“The loop begins at the trailhead at the bottom of Chestnut Hill Avenue in Chestnut Hill. You will descend into the gorge and cross over several bridges (including the local favorite, “The Red Covered Bridge“), climb the Rex Avenue steps and meet up with the “Kneeling Lenape” statue, known also as ‘Teddy’ (Tedyuscung). After returning through the trees to the start, we like to end our run with an expression of gratitude by placing a stone on the pile, a nice way to wrap up the run with positive focus. Though it is a mere three miles, it offers a challenging punch with some technical trail terrain and steep switchbacks. You’ll pack a solid workout into a very manageable timeframe. Plus, the beautiful setting will hold your attention, taking your mind off the effort!” — Amy Carolla owner of Balance Chestnut Hill and co-founder of iRunTheHill, and Schuyler Nunn, co-founder of iRunTheHill.
This page was published in January 2019 and most recently updated in January 2021.