Cycle Philadelphia, Sightseeing & Road Ride, Fairmount Mansions Ride
Never ventured into West Fairmount Park? Give this 12 mile bike ride a go! It provides an excellent introduction to the area, brings you over the Falls Bridge, and then takes you back to Boathouse Row along the Schuylkill River Trail. You’ll pass four beautiful historic mansions nestled in the park, including Cedar Grove, Sweetbriar, Belmont, and Chamounix. Belmont Mansion sits on the Belmont Plateau, an awesome stop that offers one of the best views of the Philadelphia skyline.
A mix of on-road cycling and bike paths through West Fairmount Park, this loop has a couple of spiky hills and one long, luxurious downhill at mile six.
The bike paths around West Fairmount Park are far less utilized than the Schuylkill River Trail, which is on the east side of the river. Car traffic is generally low during the on road portions, but there are a few hairy intersections to watch (specifically Belmont Mansion Drive and Montgomery Avenue).
The ride starts at the corner of 22nd and Spring Garden. Buses 7, 43, and 48 will get you close to 22nd and Spring Garden, which is near the Art Museum. There is also ample street parking in the Fairmount neighbourhood.
Food and Drink
Grab a snack at the shop on 22nd and Spring Garden, because you won’t have many opportunities for a bite until you reach The Chief at Boathouse Row!
Check out all the mansions along the way! You can also take a tour of the Underground Railroad Museum at Belmont Mansion.
Start out on 22nd and Spring Garden and head towards the Art Museum. You’ll bike ride in front of the museum steps on Ben Franklin Parkway on your way to Martin Luther King Drive, which is on the west side of the river (you’ll see a street sign for “Schuylkill Trail Connector”).
This bike ride shares its starting point with the Spring Garden to The Italian Market ride – combine the two for a decent 20 mile loop that runs from Falls Bridge to The Italian Market. Not bad! After you pick up MLK Drive, you’ll head north along the river and, after about a mile, you’ll make a left at Sweet Briar to head into the park – this will be your first uphill. You’ll pick up the bike lanes as you pass Cedar Grove and Sweetbriar mansions.
Both offer daily tours. Sweetbriar was built by Samuel Breck in the mid 19th century, and Cedar Grove was built in 1748 by Elizabeth Coates Pascall. The home was moved one brick at a time from its original location in Frankford to its current perch in the early part of the 20th century! As you continue, you’ll pass the back of the Please Touch Museum, and then the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and the Horticulture Center. Soon you’ll come to the intersection of Belmont Drive and Montgomery Avenue – depending on the time of day, it may take a few minutes to find a space in traffic long enough to cross the street.
Take your time here at this intersection. Once safely across, you’ll hit another hill on your way up to the Belmont Plateau. This particular hill can be miserable on a hot afternoon with a single speed, but once you get there, the view is so amazing. Take a look at that beautiful city! The Belmont Mansion, which stoically sits behind you, was built in the 1700s. According to Fairmount Park Commission, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, and Madison all hung out up here. The last mansion you’ll visit is the Chamounix Mansion, a country retreat built in 1802 by George Plumstead.
It is currently a guesthouse – you can spend the night in Fairmount Park for less than $20 per person. After Chamounix, you’ll take the long downhill on Ford Road back towards the river. Cross either at Strawberry Mansion or Falls Bridge (the ride log takes you over Falls) to ride home along the Schuylkill River Trail on the east side of the river.
19.887 km / 12.357 mi
279 m / 914 ft
278 m / 913 ft
74 m / 242 ft