Forbidden Drive Ride

Cycle Philadelphia, Road Ride, Forbidden Drive Ride

The shaded Forbidden Drive, which runs along the Wissahickon Creek, is a favorite for cyclists and runners to escape the sounds of the city. The rumblings of the creek offer a delightful contrast to the daily beeps and horns of downtown, plus, there are lots of critters roaming around the drive. Nature in the city comes in all shapes and sizes, including that baby crawfish.

Terrain

Forbidden Drive is a timeless gravel path along the Wissahickon Creek in lush Fairmount Park.

Traffic

Oh lots! Runners, hikers, frogs, and cyclists all enjoy this wooded area.

Access

There are two main entrances to Forbidden Drive; one is located on Ridge Avenue across from the Kelly Drive portion of the Schuylkill River Trail, and the other at trail’s end just off Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill which has a large parking lot. Buses 1, 9, and 27 will drop you near the Ridge Avenue entrance, though you could also bike down from Boathouse Row

Food and Drink

You’ll pass the Valley Green Inn, rumored to have been in business since 1683. The inn offers a lovely oasis by the creek to stop and have a cold drink or a longer gourmet lunch. Bruno’s, a comfortable diner, is near the northwestern entrance.

Side Trip

Devil’s Pool is just off Forbidden Drive, near Livezey Lane. Thanks to recent cleanup efforts by The Friends of the Wissahickon, the shallow swimming hole is coming back to life as an adventurous spot to cool off in the summer.

 

More Details

If you pick up the path by Ridge Avenue, then you are actually on the Wissahickon Bikeway before reaching Forbidden Drive proper. The bikeway was revamped in 2007 to improve the connection between the Wissahickon and Kelly Drive. It offers cyclists a 1.5 mile paved path that runs through Fairmount Park alongside Lincoln Drive. Once you reach Forbidden Drive, the trail becomes packed gravel.

There are a lot of arched bridges along the way, and one red covered bridge that juts out of the greenery in a striking color contrast worthy of the brightest oil paints. Stop by the creek and dunk your feet or touch the water with your hands – you may catch yourself a cute little crawfish! When you reach Northwestern Avenue, make a right on road to reach Bruno’s, Chestnut Hill College, or continue down the hill to reach the entrance to Morris Arboretum. Or just have a rest and turn back towards the city! It’s pretty hard to get lost on Forbidden Drive! Just follow the path. 

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Cross Ridge Ave at the entrance to the Wissahickon Bike Trail. Follow the signs and hop on the trail!
  • 1.0 Cross the bridge over the Wissahickon Creek.
  • 1.2 You’ll come to an intersection. Make a left here, and pedal through a small area before entering Forbidden Dr. Continue along Forbidden Dr (packed gravel). You’ll stay on this trail for the remainder of the ride.
  • 3.7 Devil’s Pool will be on your right, just off Livezey Ln.
  • 4.0 Come to the Valley Green Inn, on your left.
  • 5.5 The beautiful red covered bridge will be on your right. Continue past this bridge.
  • 6.1 Cross Bells Mills Rd.
  • 6.6 You’ll reach the trailhead of Forbidden Dr. When you’re ready to head home, turn around and…
  • 7.0 Cross Bells Mill Rd.
  • 7.7 Red covered bridge.
  • 9.1 Pass Valley Green Inn.
  • 12.0 Cross the small parking area, and make a right to pick up the Wissahickon Bikeway.
  • 13.2 Back at the Ridge Ave entrance!
  • Trail map

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    21.24 km / 13.198 mi

    Total Distance

    661 m / 2,167 ft

    Total Ascent

    660 m / 2,167 ft

    Total Descent

    67 m / 221 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Gravel
    Various
    Difficulty: Beginner (Green)
    Ride Duration: 2-4 hrs
    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: 13.2
    Elevation Gain: 146
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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