Cycle Philadelphia, Sightseeing & Road Ride, Boathouse Row to Bruno’s Ride

This bike ride from Center City to Bruno’s in Chestnut Hill is a longstanding tradition for the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. You’ll cover a lot of ground on an array of streets – some are busy urban arterials, while others seem like slow country roads – before finishing up with a few miles on the SRT and a quick jaunt through Manayunk.

Terrain

This ride takes you on road through Chestnut Hill, which, as the name implies, has one very large hill. You’ll encounter some climbing along the way and a few luxurious downhills.

Traffic

Most of the roads are quiet, though a couple (including Ridge and Henry avenues), will have steady traffic. Bike lanes pop up here and there, as does a few miles of the Schuylkill River Trail.

Access

The log begins at Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive. 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.

Food and Drink

Bruno’s, a neighborhood diner with great food, marks the halfway point of this loop. There is a small ice cream shop next door as well.

Side Trip

Morris Arboretum of course! Talk about a place to lose yourself for an afternoon – the gorgeous historic gardens span 92 acres and contain sculptures, lovely walkways and streams, in addition to over 13,000 labeled plants, flowers and stately trees.

 

More Details

This is a great bike ride if you are ready for something more advanced but would still like the comfort of knowing that there are poop out options along the way. The full ride is a solid 27 miles, but for you, the non-committal rider, it can be shortened to 11 miles by catching the Chestnut Hill West line at Highland Avenue back to Center City, or to 16 miles by taking the Manayunk/ Norristown line at Spring Mill. So go for it! The majority of this bike ride is on quieter roads, though a few will have steady traffic. Most have a wide shoulder.

There are a handful of bridges to cross and circles to navigate, but if you take your time, relax, and follow the flow of traffic, you shouldn’t encounter any trouble. The first portion of this bike ride takes you from Boathouse Row to Chestnut Hill, a quiet neighborhood with beautiful old houses and big trees in the northwestern section of the city. There are a few good climbs and busy streets, most notably Ridge Avenue, Henry Avenue, and Germantown Avenue, but you will not be on these roads for long. Bruno’s is on the corner of Northwestern and Germantown avenues.

If you wish to make a day of the trip and visit Morris Arboretum, simply make a right on Northwestern. The entrance to the arboretum is just down the hill. There are two options for your return – Forbidden Drive or the long way through Manayunk. The second portion of your bike ride, should you choose the long way, all leads up to the very long, rolling Barren Hill Road. This is by far the loveliest road on the bike ride.

After a few turns, you’ll pick up The Schuylkill River Trail and bike ride towards the city. The third portion of this head brings you up Umbria Street and down Main Street in Manayunk. Main Street will have steady traffic, but drivers are generally accustomed to seeing cyclists (Umbria is the main connection between the Kelly Drive portion of the SRT and the Valley Forge portion). After your ride through Manayunk, you’ll pick up the loop along Kelly Drive and bike back to the boathouses.

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row, and head away from the city.
  • 0.6 Pass under Girard Bridge, and continue to follow the path.
  • 3.6 The Falls Bridge will be to your left. Cross Calumet St and continue on the narrow path ahead.
  • 4.4 Make a right on Ridge Ave. This intersection can be confusing on your first approach.
  • 5.2 Left on Midvale.
  • 5.6 Left on Warden Dr, the Schuylkill Free Library is on the corner.
  • 5.9 Left on Vaux St.
  • 6.0 Right on School House Ln.
  • 6.1 Left on Henry Ave at the stoplight. Be careful here - this is the busiest street of the route.
  • 6.5 Cross the Henry Ave Bridge.
  • 7.1 Right on Walnut St to pick up a small bike lane. Follow bike lanes over the bridge.
  • 7.7 Bike around the circle and make a left on Park Line Dr.
  • 8.0 Right on Hortter St. Cross Wissahickon Ave.
  • 8.3 Left on Wayne and pick up the bike lanes.
  • 8.8 Right onto Sedgwick St.
  • 8.9 Left on Sherman St, around the park. Sherman becomes Mt Pleasant Rd.
  • 9.3 Make a left on McCallum St and follow it over the bridge (there are sidewalks on the bridge if you are uncomfortable with the traffic).
  • 10.0 After the bridge, you’ll make a right on Mermaid Ln.
  • 10.05 Take the first left on Cherokee St.
  • 10.3 Pass Springside School and bear right. Cherokee becomes Hartwell Ln.
  • 10.9 Left on St Martins Ln.
  • 11.3 Left on Seminole St. If pooped out, hop on the Chestnut Hill West line at Highland Ave back to the city.
  • 11.5 Right on Chestnut Hill Ave.
  • 11.7 Left on Crefeld Ave. Bear right at the stop, and Crefeld Ave becomes Normal Ln. Go up the hill!
  • 12.0 Left on Germantown Ave, one of the busier streets on this route. Enjoy the downhill!
  • 13.1 Bruno’s! The favorite diner is on the corner of Northwestern and Germantown avenues. Return: you can either take Forbidden Dr Ride home or enjoy the following route home through Manayunk.
  • 13.2 Stay on Northwestern. The entrance to Forbidden Dr is on your left. If going through Manayunk home, then:
  • 13.3 Right on Andorra Rd.
  • 14.3 Make a sharp right on Park Rd, and a quick left on Church Rd (becomes Hart Ln).
  • 14.8 Right on Barren Hill Rd – a beautiful road but small shoulder. Take this all the way to the bottom!
  • 16.1 Pass Spring Mill Café, follow curve to the right. Make a left at the light on Hector St.
  • 16.4 Left on North Ln. Follow signs for the bike path. If pooped out, hop on the Spring Mill R6 home.
  • 16.5 Make a left to pick up the Schuylkill River Trail.
  • 19.1 Exit path and bike down the short hill on Nixon St.
  • 19.4 Right on Shawmont, up and around the switchback to reach the Umbria St bike lanes.
  • 21.1 Make a right at the T, and follow Umbria under the bridge and to the left. Umbria becomes Main St.
  • 22.6 Merge with Ridge Ave, stay to the right.
  • 22.9 Right to pick up the Schuylkill River Trail. Stay on the trail until you reach Boathouse Row.
  • 27.3 Finish!
  • Trail map

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    42.741 km / 26.558 mi

    Total Distance

    550 m / 1,806 ft

    Total Ascent

    552 m / 1,811 ft

    Total Descent

    125 m / 410 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    Fitness Level: High
    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: 27.3
    Elevation Gain: 418
    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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