Cycle Philadelphia, Sightseeing & Kids friendly Ride, Schuylkill River Trail to Valley Forge

This tried and true bike ride comes highly recommended by droves of city cyclists. It is pretty straight forward, offering a couple of good hills in Manayunk and a flat and fast path through to Valley Forge. You also have the option of picking up the towpath in Manayunk if not comfortable on the busy Main Street.

Terrain

For most of the trip, you’ll ride on the Schuylkill River Trail, an off-road, paved path. However some trail connections are not yet complete and you will be on-road for a bit through Manayunk.

Traffic

This is a pretty popular ride – though there will be a decent amount of car traffic through Manayunk, plenty of cyclists will join you between Ridge Avenue and Umbria Street. Once on the path, there will be a steady flow of bicycles.

Access

Septa bus routes 7, 32, 38, 43 and 48 serve the museum area. If driving, you’ll find ample parking behind the Art Museum and Boathouse Row. The Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail line runs parallel to the Valley Forge section of the Schuylkill River Trail in the event of poop-out.

Food and Drink

You’ll pass tons of places to stop for a bite or a cup of coffee on Main Street in Manayunk, including Le Bus and La Colombe. The Spring Mill Café is just off the path on Barren Hill Road in Conshohocken. But be sure to pack extra water for the rest of the trail to Valley Forge!

Side Trip

The Valley Forge National Historical Park, with its stunning landscape, monuments and shaded paths, is an excellent place to picnic or spend the afternoon.

 

More Details

The great thing about this bike ride is that you can go for as long as you wish, and when sufficiently cycled out, you can return along the same route or hop on the Manayunk/Norristown line to hitch home. If making a realxed day out of it, then you should lock up your bikes and stroll through the ‘Yunk; there are lots of lovely shops and cafes to visit in this part of town. If clad in Spandex, you will enjoy the ability to extend this ride quite a bit farther by utilizing the trail network just beyond Valley Forge National Historical Park.

You’ll start off as with most other Art Museum Departures, heading north along the Loop. After Falls Bridge, you’ll continue along the river until Ridge Avenue, where you’ll make a sharp left to head into Manayunk. There are two options for you: the onroad Main Street/Umbria route, and the towpath. Umbria has traffic and a nice hill. The towpath is packed gravel and can sometimes be muddy. At about mile eight, you’ll pick up The Schuylkill River Trail to Valley Forge.

Try to stay on the section that leads to the right and pass on the left here – this path can be very busy on the weekends, and it isn’t terribly wide. Some sections are green and shaded, others are sunny and hot in the warmer months. The path will take you along the rail line through Miquon, Spring Mill, Conshohocken, and Norristown. At about mile 15, you’ll pass the Norristown Transportation Center – the last on the line. Once in Valley Forge, you have quite a few options to extend the ride. For starters, there is a good network of paved trails in the Valley Forge National Historical Park.

There is also the Audubon Loop, offering a challenging nine percent grade hill. If you want to be bold, take the Perkiomen Trail all the way out to Perkiomenville. Just remember to turn around! 

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start by the viking statue at the end of Boathouse Row, and head northwest along the river.
  • 0.4 Pass under Girard Bridge, and continue to follow the path.
  • 3.4 The Falls Bridge will be to your left. Cross Calumet St and continue on the narrow path ahead.
  • 3.9 Pass under two highway overhangs and follow the curve to the right; the path will feel like a sidewalk.
  • 4.2 Make a left on Ridge Ave and then bear left to head towards Main St Manayunk.
  • 4.3 Cruise along Main St. Le Bus, a café and bakery is just past Rector St. La Colombe, aka the city’s best coffee roaster, is just after Grape St.
  • 5.8 Right on Leverington St (a little climb here) just after Green Ln.
  • 5.9 Quick left on Umbria St. At Wilde St you’ve gone too far!
  • 6.3 Pickup the Umbria St bike lanes, with a hill ahead
  • 7.4 Follow Umbria’s curve to the right, then take the Shawmont Ave switchback (nice downhill!).
  • 7.6 Make a right on Nixon St
  • . 7.9 Pop up the Port Royal Ave hill and make a left to enter the Valley Forge section of the Schuylkill River Trail.
  • 8.9 Pass the Miquon train station.
  • 10.5 Pass the Spring Mill station.
  • 11.7 Pass the Conshohocken station.
  • 14.6 Follow the loopdiloop around.
  • 15.6 Pass the Norristown Transportation Center – last stop on the Norristown/Manayunk line.
  • 16.4 Cross Haws Ave.
  • 18.0 Cross S Schuylkill Ave.
  • 18.3 Cross Port Indian Rd.
  • 20.5 Cross W County Line Rd, and enter Valley Forge National Historical Park. Finally some shade!
  • 20.6 Reach the Betzwood picnic area. To reach Valley Forge to Perkiomenville Ride or Audubon Loop Ride, keep on heading straight through the park until you pop out at the Pawlings Rd intersection. To reach Valley Forge National Historical Park visitor center, you’ll have to cross the Schuylkill River by taking the Rt 422 bridge. Make a left when you reach Rt 23 and head up the hill to reach the visitor center. Or, turn yourself around and head back to Philly!
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    32.922 km / 20.457 mi

    Total Distance

    261 m / 856 ft

    Total Ascent

    234 m / 766 ft

    Total Descent

    55 m / 182 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: options
    Fitness Level: Medium
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 20.6
    Elevation Gain: 199
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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