By Sam Klugherz
There are great places to ride your bike a short distance from Center City, especially the Schuylkill River Trail and Fairmount Park. However, if you’re willing to venture a little for a ride, the pleasant weather of summer allows for a great chance to explore the Circuit Trails. One of the trails not far from Center City is the Pennypack Trail, which makes up a major piece of the Circuit.
There are two parts of the trail; the lower part in Northeast Philadelphia, which is paved, and the upper part in Montgomery County, which is a rail trail made entirely of crushed stone. The 14-mile point-to-point trail is mostly shaded making for a perfect summer ride, with several scenic and historic destinations along the way. See transit directions for how to get to the Northeast Philly trailhead from Center City, in addition to a map of the entire trail at the bottom of this page.
Pennypack Creek Bridge
Beginning at the State Road trailhead in the Holmesburg neighborhood in Philadelphia, head northwest on the trail along the Pennypack Creek. At the second road intersection you will cross over Frankford Avenue. The bridge adjacent to the trail that sits above the Pennypack Creek is the historic Pennypack Creek Bridge. Built in 1697 as a part of the King’s Highway that connected Philadelphia to New York and Boston, the stone arch bridge is the oldest continuous bridge in use in the United States and a must-see on a Pennypack Trail ride.
Continuing along the trail takes you through the expansive Pennypack Park, the third largest park in Philadelphia. Pennypack Park is a nature oasis that traverses across the urban landscape of Northeast Philly. The wildlife in the Park is impressive and provides for a scenic route along the Pennypack Creek.
Pennypack Environmental Center
Operated by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, the Pennypack Environmental Center is a great destination within Pennypack Park to learn more about the local environment. The Center is just a short detour off of the Pennypack Trail, located at 8600 Verree Road. The Center hosts plenty of special events and offers several educational programs geared toward children. There is a bike rack at the front of the building.
Crossing over from Philadelphia into Montgomery County takes you right into Lorimer Park, the 230-acre park of meadows and woodlands. The park has a picnic area which is a popular destination for family outings. In addition to the Pennypack Trail that runs through, there are short loops and hiking trails within Lorimer Park for even more nature-viewing. Other features include a public restroom, a pavilion, and a bike rack.
Starting in the 1700s, the Pennypack Creek was harnessed for its water power and several mills were built along the waterway for a new agriculture industry. One former grist mill just north of Lorimer Park called Fetter’s Mill is situated beside the creek on Fetter’s Mill Road. The mill, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, is very close to the Bryn Athyn Train Station, another historic destination on the trail. More sites of former mills are scattered along the creek as you continue your ride north.
Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust
Before reaching the end of the trail, you will ride through the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust Preserve. The nonprofit conservancy oversees the stewardship of the 828-acre preserve, which has 11 miles of walking trails and an abundance of wildlife.
Transit Directions and Map:
To reach the trailhead in Northeast Philadelphia, take the SEPTA Regional Rail Trenton Line from Center City. Get off at Holmesburg Junction Station and follow the map below to enter the trail from State Road. You can take your bike with you on a Regional Rail train on weekdays at non-peak hours, and all day on weekends.