Cycle Philadelphia, Sightseeing and Kids Ride, Audubon Loop

The Audubon Loop bike ride takes you through the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park and, as the name implies, the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. Mostly flat save for a couple of hills (including one nine percent grade incline), the loop is an excellent four mile addition to an afternoon ride on the Schuylkill River Trail. Of course, it also stands alone if you wish to explore the museum or some of the Audubon bird sanctuaries.

Terrain

A paved path running alongside secluded wooded areas, bird sanctuaries, and a creek.

Traffic

The Audubon Loop generally has less bicycle and pedestrian traffic than its friend across the way, the Valley Forge National Historic Park.

Access 

The best mode of travel to Audubon Loop is your bicycle! It meets the Schuylkill River Trail at Valley Forge Ride and the start of the Perkiomen Trail Ride. Of course if you have to drive, you’ll find parking at the Pawlings Road trail head.

Food and Drink

A few water fountains welcome you to the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park, but, if you intend to stay on the loop, then plan to bring some snacks for a picnic.

Side Trip

The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove! Audubon’s first home in the United States, the 175 acre site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum houses the famous Birds of America collection, among much of Audubon’s other artwork and writings.

 

More Details

The bike ride takes you counter clockwise – certainly the easier route. If you are looking for a better challenge or some practice with hills, reverse the directions to ride clockwise. You’ll start out at the intersection between the SRT, the Perkiomen Trail, and the Audubon Loop. To go the easy way, head up the switchback towards Pawlings Road. To tackle the more challenging route, pedal straight ahead – towards the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park.

Assuming you do not wish to climb a nine percent grade, then you have picked the easy way towards Pawlings Road. From here you will make a left over the bridge and follow Audubon Loop (marked on the path itself as ‘AL’). You’ll travel alongside Pawlings Road for about a mile, passing a few bird observation areas and eventually the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove (1201 Pawlings Road). The sanctuary grounds are open from 7am until dusk. After the left at Audubon Road, you’ll soon pass a smoke stack that dates back to the mid-19th century copper and lead ore mining activities at Mill Grove.

The sign near the stack notes that over 1,500 tons of lead was mined in here between 1813 and 1825! You’ll hit the steep grade and continue to follow the path until Egypt Road. The path becomes an awkward sidewalk along the bridge. Follow the sidewalk over the bridge and make a left afterwards. The sidewalk ends, but there will be a barrier between you and the road to make you feel secure. The entrance to the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park can be easy to miss – look for the red sign and parking lot.

Once back on the path, you’ll take a right to pedal through the park. Stop here for a drink at the water fountains or a quick game of tetherball. When you leave the park, you’ll come to a fork. Bear right to pick up the Schuylkill River Trail (the pavement will be painted ‘SRT’) and follow the switchback over the bridge. Continue straight and you’ll find yourself at the familiar Pawlings Road switchback. Bear right to head towards the parking lot, left to head towards Valley Forge.

 

Ride Log

* If coming from Valley Forge on the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT), follow the signs towards Pawlings Rd.

  • 0.0 If coming from SRT, make a left at the Pawlings switchback and head up the path.
  • 0.2 Pass the trailhead parking lot to your right, and make a left to follow ‘AL’ (Audubon Loop) over the bridge. The path runs alongside Pawlings Rd.
  • 0.8 Pass a lovely bird watching area, part of the Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary. Follow the trail into the trees.
  • 1.1 Cross Old Mill Rd and climb up a short, steep hill.
  • 1.3 Pass the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove. Bear left to follow the path at the corner of Pawlings and Audubon.
  • 1.4 Follow the trail through the woods!
  • 1.8 Pass the Mill Grove smoke stack, dating back to 1855.
  • 1.9 Enjoy the nine percent grade downhill – Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!
  • 2.2 The path pops out onto Egypt Rd. Make a left and follow the sidewalk/path over the bridge.
  • 2.4 The sidewalk/path ends after the bridge. Hook a left after the bridge on New Mill Rd.
  • 2.5 Make another left to enter the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park. At the entrance, make a Fright to pick up the Perkiomen Trail.
  • 3.2 The trail begins to follow the Perkiomen Creek to your left. There is an excellent picnic area with BBQs and tetherball just ahead.
  • 3.7 Bear right to head up the switchback. Follow signs for Schuylkill River Trail, or SRT (which is painted on the pavement along with an arrow).
  • 3.9 Over the bridge.
  • 4.1 Arrive at the bottom of the Pawlings Rd switchback.
  • Trail map

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    6.571 km / 4.083 mi

    Total Distance

    114 m / 374 ft

    Total Ascent

    114 m / 375 ft

    Total Descent

    64 m / 211 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    Fitness Level: Low
    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
    Trail Signage: Good
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 4.1
    Elevation Gain: 207
    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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