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GoPhillyGo Rides the Pennypack Path

Plan your own trip along Pennypack Path here.

Winter is lashing us with a few last blasts of icy wind and slushy wintry mixes. Spring is going to be here before we know it, so when old man winter forces us to hide indoors, let’s think about the good times, and the gorgeous sunny days just around the bend.

Spring made a brief appearance recently, and reminded us that Philadelphia is full of natural beauty, trails, and paths that lead us through forests and city streets. We seized the day, grabbed our bike, and took a train out to one of our favorite trails.

The Pennypack Path follows the Pennypack Creek as it winds across Northeast Philadelphia. This roughly eight mile paved bikeway connects Fox Chase, at the Montgomery County border, to Holmesburg and Pennypack on the Delaware at the confluence of the Delaware River and Pennypack Creek.

We started our trip in South Philly, and headed to Jefferson Station via the 13th Street bikeway. Once we arrived, we boarded the Fox Chase line, and in a little less than 30 minutes, we were off the train and back on our bike. The ride from Fox Chase station to the trail entrance took about 10 minutes, and had us winding down hills in a residential neighborhood, before we merged on to the busier Shady Lane.

You can get on the Pennypack Path right across from Fox Chase Farm where the path crosses Pine Rd. A small recreational area and pavilion are at this trail entrance. The large grassy field surrounds the old stone pavilion, and tilted benches allow visitors to comfortably gaze at birds up in the trees. The creek is only a few steps away, and you can walk down to the water’s edge for a great view.

We began to head east along the path. It wasn’t long until we felt like we were far away from civilization, and immersed in picturesque natural beauty. Rolling hills take you high above the water, and reveal the shape of the landscape along the winding creek.

There are plenty of spots to pull over, and listen to the forest. We paused at the bottom of one of the hills and listened to what sounded like hundreds of birds chirping and squawking in the brush. Other times the forest is nearly silent except for the sound of wind passing between the branches, and the faint call of a bird far off in the distance.

You may feel like you are far away from the city as you travel down the path,  but don’t be surprised if you have to slow down for pedestrians on nicer days, even if you aren’t near a trail entrance. There are several paths leading from nearby streets, and people love to go far on this trail since it’s paved, and relatively flat.

The Pennypack Environmental Center is a great destination located just off of the path where it crosses under Verree Rd. You can connect to the roadway above on either side of the underpass, however the north side has a paved connector that brings you up to street level. There you will find bike lanes on both sides of Verree Rd, and the Center is only a few hundred feet away. You can lock your bike up out front on their bike rack, and step inside to learn about the plants and animals that live in the Pennypack Watershed. The Center has a bird blind, many programs for all ages, and is one of the three environmental centers in Philadelphia.

The Pennypack Path passes under many bridges that cross over the creek. You will cross under Verree Rd, Krewstown Rd, Bustleton Ave, and Roosevelt Blvd. The Frankford Avenue bridge over the creek is one of the few that you must cross at street level.

That may be due to the fact that it is the oldest continuously operating bridge in the US. The bridge was built in 1697 and widened in the 1890s.  Bridge traffic in its 300 plus years of existence includes Native Americans, the Continental Army, and members of the Continental Congress including John Adams and the Massachusetts delegation.

Travelers will find another street level crossing at Torresdale Avenue. You must travel a few hundred feet west in the bike lane before you come to the trail entrance for the next segment of the path. This particular crossing will soon be updated to make trail users safer when crossing Torresdale Avenue to connect to the next segment of trail.

We continued on for a short distance through the Holmesburg neighborhood before we arrived at the entrance to Pennypack on the Delaware. The path continues along the driveway leading down to the Delaware river and along the water.

You can take in a view of the water from the gazebo or walk out on a grassy pier like strip of land that sticks out into the river. You will find two benches out there, and a great place to look at birds and the occasional passing boat.

The Pennypack Path winds through a meadow, and brings you within earshot of a shooting range. A smaller dirt path will take you through tall grass, and into the woods where the Pennypack Creek meets the Delaware River. You can gaze at the Baxter Trail bridge which will one day connect the Pennypack Path to trails leading north along the Delaware river.

The Pennypack Path is one of the longer trails in Philadelphia, and one of the most scenic. It’s perfect in small doses, but don’t let its size deter you from doing the full length. If you ride through at a regular pace, it will take you around an hour to get from Fox Chase Farm to Pennypack on the Delaware. However, you may find yourself stopping along the way to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes, or the sounds of nature along this urban oasis.