Ride to the Zoo

Cycle Philadelphia, Sightseeing & Road Ride, Ride to the Zoo

This bike ride is short and sweet. The zoo loop begins at Schuylkill Banks Park, but, instead of picking up MLK Drive or continuing along the loop, you’ll cross Ben Franklin Parkway and take the zigzag ramp up to Spring Garden behind the Art Museum. Cross Spring Garden at the light and take the bridge’s bicycle lanes over the river and into West Philly.

Once over the river, you’ll take the bike path on 31st Street towards the zoo. Part of the East Coast Greenway, this path is far less traveled than some others in the city. It will become Mantua Avenue, and then curve around to meet 34th Street. You’ll encounter traffic on 34th Street, especially as you get closer to the zoo and Girard Avenue. There’s also a steep downhill here, so take it slow. The zoo will be on your left. To return home, you’ll pedal up to Girard Avenue and take the bridge over the river back into East Fairmount Park (the sidewalk on the Girard Avenue bridge is very wide).

You’ll make a right to pick up a series of bicycle lanes, then make a couple of turns around Sedgely and Lemon Hill to head back down to Boathouse Row. Wait for the light to cross Kelly Drive, and make a left at Lloyd Hall to hop back on the SRT. After passing the Art Museum and the waterworks, you’ll soon be riding back along the Schuylkill Banks Park towards 25th and Locust.


This is a mix of path and bicycle lanes, with the exception of the area around Girard Avenue. There are some hilly portions close to the zoo and in East Fairmount Park.


There is steady traffic around the zoo entrance, and a hairy intersection between 34th and Girard, but otherwise you’ll be on a bike path or in cozy bike lanes.


The log begins at the bottom of Schuylkill Banks Park Ride, on the corner of 25th and Locust. Septa buses 7, 12, and 40 will drop you nearby.

Food and Drink

A new lunch spot just opened up along Boathouse Row called Cosmic Foods. This welcomed addition sits at the top of the row in Lloyd Hall.

Side Trip

The zoo! If you haven’t been in years, then you should take this ride and spend the afternoon there. It’s the first zoo in America, and there are over 1300 animals.


Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the Locust St Crossing at Schuylkill Banks Park  Ride and head north.
  • 0.1 Pass under the Walnut St Bridge.
  • 0.6 Pass Race St entrance.
  • 1.1 Exit the path and cross Ben Franklin Pkwy at the stoplight. You’ll see a zigzag ramp that leads to Spring Garden Stand and the Art Museum just after the street. Head up the ramp!
  • 1.2 Hop on Spring Garden bike lanes and make a left to cross the bridge over the river.
  • 1.4 Make a right on 31st St and take the bicycle path on the right of the road – this is part of the East Coast Greenway! The path will curve around, become Mantua St, and eventually meet 34th St.
  • 1.8 Make a right on 34th St. Check out the mural on the bridge over the railroad tracks! There’s a long, straight downhill here all the way to Girard. Watch for traffic merging from 176 at the bottom of the hill.
  • 2.4 If you have the confidence, then get in the left lane and make a left turn to the zoo entrance. If you want a more relaxing way of making the turn, then hop off your bike at Girard Ave and make a pedestrian turn.
  • Coming home –

    • 2.5 After you exit the zoo, make a right on Girard to cross the Girard Bridge back to the east side of the Schuylkill.
    • 2.6 Make the first right turn after the bridge onto Sedgley Dr.
    • 2.8 Pass Lemon Hill.
    • 3.0 Merge with Poplar Dr to pick up the bicycle lane. Head down the hill all the way to Kelly Dr.
    • 3.1 Cross Kelly Dr and make a left at Lloyd Hall. You’ll be heading towards the Art Museum on your way back to Schuylkill Banks Park.
    • 3.2 Pedal alongside the old waterworks.
    • 4.0 Pass the Race St entrance.
    • 4.5 Pass under Walnut St Bridge.
    • 4.6 Arrive back at Locust St entrance.
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      7.368 km / 4.578 mi

      Total Distance

      138 m / 452 ft

      Total Ascent

      138 m / 452 ft

      Total Descent

      30 m / 100 ft

      Highest Point

      Ride type:
      Mountain biking
      Road riding
      Kid friendly
      Rail Trail
      Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
      Ride Duration: <1 hr
      Fitness Level: Low
      Shared Bike Path - Paved
      Shared Bike Path - Dirt
      On-Road Bike Lane
      Off-Road - Fire Trail
      Off-Road - Rail Trail
      Off-Road - Single Track
      Off-Road - Downhill
      Trail Signage: Average
      Mobile Coverage: Excellent
      Estimated Distance: 4.6
      Elevation Gain: 81
      First Aid
      Bike hire
      Bike servicing
      Accessible by bike
      Accessible by car
      Accessible by public transport
      Accessible by shuttle / uber
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