Cycle Philadelphia, Sightseeing & Kids Ride, Norristown Farm Park
There are eight miles of jumbled trails traversing Norristown Farm Park’s 690 acres, a stunning backdrop for getting turned about in a hodgepodge of trails. The bridges and rolling hills make for an interesting bike ride through the farm park, as does the unusual setting – it is a working farm (450 acres are still tilled every year) next to a mental health facility, Norristown State Hospital, in the middle of a fairly urban area. Until 1975, patients at the hospital worked on the farm as it was believed to improve recovery.
There are old railroad tracks, a cemetery, boarded historical buildings (that look less inviting than even Norristown State) next to creeks, ponds and a trout nursery, 263 species of wildflowers and 73 species of birds. You’ll start out at the Whitehall Road parking lot, simply because it is the easiest to find. You’ll arrive at intersection after intersection of trails, some with decent signage (the first turn towards the dairy barn, for example, is well marked), and some where there’s no way to tell whether you are on a path, a trail, or a road. There are also a lot of surprising dead ends!
The park office is near the dairy barn, as is an additional parking lot. If you start out here, then simply pick up the ride log at mile 1.2. You can acquire a fairly confusing map of the farm park, published by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, at the park office or at the Whitehall trail head. The Doctors House at mile 2.3 and the Happy Hollow Cottage a mile 3.9 would play perfect host as spooky haunted houses. There is an on-road connector to the Schuylkill River Trail at Stainbridge Road that connects to Haws Avenue and takes you through Norristown.
You’ll be riding on a paved path that goes up and down, and up, and up and down again. Some portions might benefit from a bit of resurfacing.
The usual bike/ped crowd will accompany you through the farm park, though it is less traveled than some of the other bike paths in the area. I also think there are a lot of ghosts roaming the land.
From the Norristown Transportation Center, take Farm Park Route A (Haws Avenue/Stanbridge Street) just off of the Schuylkill River Trail. If you’re not keen on riding through Norristown, then your best bet is to drive and park at the Whitehall Road parking lot.
Food and Drink
BYOP - Bring Your Own Picnic!
Did you know there was a zoo in Norristown? Me neither! The Elmwood Zoo, located nearby at 1661 Harding Boulevard, has sat on this corner since 1924. There are exhibits on wetlands, woodlands, and bayou, among others. They also offer the popular Zoosnooze (a terrifically named sleepover!) in the summer.
8.667 km / 5.385 mi
132 m / 432 ft
131 m / 431 ft
78 m / 255 ft