Cyle Philadelphia, Sightseeing & Kids Friendly Ride, The Loop
The Loop, referred to as such because it is by far the most popular spot for cycling in Philadelphia, needs little introduction. The path that winds along the Schuylkill River includes stunning views of Boathouse Row, the old waterworks, and bridge after bridge over the water. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive (formerly West River Drive) is closed to traffic most weekends April – October, giving folks plenty of extra room to pedal in the summer.
The Loop is a paved mixed-use recreation path that loops around the Schuylkill River.
The Loop is one of the most popular destinations for outdoor activities in Philadelphia, and it attracts the lion’s share of city cyclists and runners. The stretch near boathouse row always has the heaviest traffic – best to take it slow until you pass the Viking statue.
The log begins at Lloyd Hall on Kelly Drive. If driving, you’ll find ample parking behind the Art Museum and Boathouse Row.
Food and Drink
From noon to dusk you’ll pass Chief, the nice old guy who stocks soft pretzels, pinwheels, and cold drinks at the stand across from The University Barge Club on Boathouse Row. The bench across from the stand is dedicated to Chief – he’s been in this spot since 1946!
The bike ride starts behind the Art Museum where the Schuylkill River Trail meets the Schuylkill Banks Park, but you can pick up the path at nearly any point along the way.
The stretch between the Art Museum and Boathouse Row will be the most congested. After passing the Girard Bridge, traffic will thin a bit. After crossing the Falls Bridge, you’ll pick up a narrow path that runs alongside Martin Luther King Drive and heads back towards the Art Museum. Most of MLK Drive is closed to traffic on weekends during the summer, offering a wide stretch of road for runners and cyclists adorned with lush greenery. Hooray! On this side of the river, you are treated to the best views of Boathouse Row, the waterworks, and the Art Museum. As you continue towards the museum, the path narrows still. After crossing the river again, you’ll have to cross Benjamin Franklin Parkway to reach the entrance to Schuylkill Banks Park.
If uncomfortable with the traffic, wait to cross at the stop light. You’ll see the entrance to Schuylkill Banks Park just after the light – make a left if you wish to ride along the banks towards Locust Street, or a right if you want to head back towards Boathouse Row. Want more.... The Fairmount Park Art Association recently released Museum Without Walls, an audio interpretation of the public art and sculpture along the Loop. The apps, maps, and audio downloads are available for 35 works of public art. If you plan to spend an afternoon on the river, they are definitely worth a listen!
13.226 km / 8.218 mi
168 m / 551 ft
170 m / 559 ft
20 m / 64 ft