Bicycle Coalition News about Circuit Trails, pedestrian safety, sustainability, and environmental issues in Philadelphia and the surrounding region in NJ, Delaware County, Bucs County, and more.

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John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

The days are longer and the weather is a little warmer. You are itching to go outside and get on your bike. You get to the trailhead using your preferred conveyance (hopefully your bike) and wow, that trail is busy and you feel unsafe.

Don’t despair. We know of some places where the trails aren’t so crowded. Even in Philadelphia there are many lightly used trails within biking distance. Many of the trails were recommended by Daniel Paschall, Mid-Atlantic Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance. There are more Circuit Trail locations shown in the map below.

Note that the list below has been updated based on reports of weekend crowding. We are also adding some of these rides to our Lesser Known Rides category on RideWithGps.

Philadelphia

K&T Trail – The main entrance is off 86th St. however crowds have reportably been building. Use the western entrance on Wanamaker Ave if you can.

Cobbs Creek Trail – The Environmental Center is a good start point. There is even a connecting path in Upper Darby for Delco residents to bike there.”

Port Richmond/Bridesburg Trail – Great post industrial feel and next to the busy Tioga Marine Terminal. The view looking north from Pulaski Park is my vision of the seven gates of hell. Seriously though Pulaski Park is a nice fishing spot with great views of the City.

The Horticultural Loop – Unlike normal times getting off MLK Drive to explore Fairmount Park’s Centennial District feels more like a dare. Explore the grounds of the Japanese House and the Horticultural Center.

City Streets
Traffic is down, way down (check out this drone video). If you feel comfortable riding on the street but find riding in downtown traffic to be unpleasant then now is the time to try it. Center City Philadelphia is especially vacant, riding in town has become surreal. The birds are chirping on the leafier streets. Riding west on Spruce Street is like traveling through time. Colonial homes in the east side and 19th Century brownstones on the west side with the Kimmel Center smack in the middle.

Pennsylvania

The D&L Trail – It’s 75 miles from Bristol to Allentown and as long so there will always be lesser used sections of this trail. If you have them means avoid the 15 mile stretch between Morrisville and New Hope. We recommend the section from the Levittown Shopping Center (across from the Levittown SEPTA station) to Morrisville. It’s the newest and one of the least known segments and has several underpasses. In Upper Bucks one of the most spectacular sections is along the Nockamixon Cliffs (aka the Palisades), park your car at Lock 19 in Upper Black Eddy or at the Ringing Rocks Trailhead.

Schuylkill River Trail from Cromby to Parkerford – The trail to the west of Phoenixville is crushed stone and less heavily used. The Spring City Shopping Center is a convenient place to park if your driving.

New Jersey

Update 4/30/20 : Governor Murphy has allowed state and county parks to reopen. This list been modified to reflect that.

Lawrence Hopewell Trail – Start at the Maidenhead Meadows Trailhead and end at the Pedestrian Bridge on Province Line Road. During peak times avoid the section in Rosedale Park.

D&R Canal Towpath – With the reopening of this State Park you can again do loops with the D&L Trail on the PA side. We recommend the remote 14 mile stretch between Lambertville and Frenchtown. Avoid parking your car in those towns, but do visit the support the local eateries in those towns by ordering takeout.

Monroe Township Bike Path – The east end is busy, busy, busy we advise that you arrive here early especially on weekends. The west end of the trail is quieter and adjacent to the gravel roads in the Glassboro Wildlife Management Area (note that it is Turkey Season so stick to main roads on the map).

Tips for Safe Biking

Avoid peak times. The easiest way to practice social distancing is being an early bird or later afternoon visitor. If you can visit these places during the week then that’s your best bet. Also pick cloudy days vs sunny ones. You’ll appreciate the solitude.

Wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer. A simple bandanna its better than being exposed. Face protection works best when everyone is wearing them. There are some easy patterns to make masks on YouTube and some don’t require sewing.

John Boyle

Author

John has been a commuting cyclist for more than 20 years. In 1994 he began working as a volunteer for the Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley after attending a volunteer night, and later served as a board member in 1997-98. In 1999 John left Philadelphia for Charlottesville, VA, where he helped establish the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation (ACCT), a bicycle and walking advocacy group.

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