Philadelphia, known for its rich history and vibrant culture, is also home to an abundance of scenic running and biking trails. With a wide variety of routes to choose from, both locals and visitors can experience the diverse neighborhoods, natural beauty, and iconic landmarks that make the city a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Runners of all levels can enjoy the numerous paths that Philadelphia has to offer. From picturesque waterfront routes along the Delaware River to the tranquil trails of Pennypack Park or the bustling energy of Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run, there is something for every runner to explore. Additionally, the expansive networks of trails throughout Philly’s suburbs expand the opportunities for runners seeking even more variety.
With its well-maintained paths, welcoming atmosphere, and stunning sceneries, Philadelphia provides an unrivaled environment for those looking to lace up their running shoes and experience the City of Brotherly Love at its best.
Scenic Running Routes in Philadelphia
Philadelphia offers a variety of scenic running routes with picturesque landscapes and beautiful parks. Here we will explore some of the most popular scenic routes in the city.
Kelly Drive is a popular choice among runners for its beautiful views of the Schuylkill River and Boathouse Row. The pathway is well-maintained and consists of dedicated lanes for runners and bikers. Kelly Drive’s picturesque landscape provides a pleasant and enjoyable experience for runners of all levels.
Schuylkill River Trail
The Schuylkill River Trail is another famous running trail along the Delaware River, as it extends for over 70 miles through the city. It offers stunning views of the river and city skyline and passes through a number of parks and recreational areas.
Runners who prefer a more rugged trail can venture off into some of the surrounding unpaved paths that wind through wooded areas.
Located along the Schuylkill River, Boathouse Row is a historic landmark and a popular spot for scenic runs. The iconic boathouses and well-lit path create a captivating atmosphere, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Loop
The Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Loop is a 4-mile circuit around the Schuylkill River offering exceptional views of the river, boathouses, and city skyline. The loop is closed to traffic on weekends, providing a safe and enjoyable running experience. Runners can find easy access to various entry points on this trail.
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park, located along the Delaware River, is a popular destination for both runners and non-runners alike. The park features a picturesque landscape and a well-maintained path, perfect for a scenic run. Moreover, the park’s close proximity to numerous urban amenities ensures that runners have convenient access to rest spots and restaurants post-run.
Philadelphia offers an abundance of scenic running routes through its parks, historic landmarks, and along its rivers. These routes provide an enjoyable experience for runners while showcasing the beauty and charm of the city.
Iconic and Historic Running Spots
Philadelphia Museum of Art and Rocky Steps
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a popular destination not just for art lovers, but also for runners. The museum’s grand staircase, famously known as the Rocky Steps, is a must-visit spot for people looking to follow in the footsteps of the legendary film character, Rocky Balboa.
Running up and down these iconic steps provide both an exhilarating workout and stunning views of the city.
Benjamin Franklin Bridge
The Benjamin Franklin Bridge offers runners a unique and historic route with panoramic views of the city’s skyline and the Delaware River.
Connecting Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, this 1.45-mile-long bridge is an ideal location for runners seeking a challenging and picturesque run.
Society Hill, one of Philadelphia’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods, boasts beautiful cobblestone streets and well-preserved 18th and 19th-century architecture.
Runners can enjoy a leisurely jog while taking in the stunning historic attractions along the streets of this charming community.
The bustling Italian Market is a favorite destination for runners who enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of a lively marketplace.
This historic market, which spans roughly ten city blocks, allows runners to experience the rich culture and history of the diverse community while getting in a good workout.
East Fairmount Park
East Fairmount Park is a serene and picturesque destination for runners seeking a natural escape within the city limits.
The park offers miles of trails for all skill levels, winding through lush forests and along the banks of the Schuylkill River. With its vast green spaces and close proximity to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, East Fairmount Park is a popular spot for both local and visiting runners.
Nature-Focused Running Routes
Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge National Historical Park is an excellent location for those who enjoy running surrounded by nature and history.
The park offers over 20 miles of interconnected trails, providing plenty of options for both casual and experienced runners. Among these trails, the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail is a popular 8.7-mile loop that takes you through various historical sites and picturesque landscapes.
Wissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park is a beautiful destination for trail running, boasting over 50 miles of winding trails along the creek and gorge.
One of the most popular routes is the 9.4-mile Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop via Forbidden Drive, providing a true nature experience just outside of the bustling city of Philadelphia.
Located in South Philly, FDR Park offers a variety of running paths set amid picturesque landscapes. With 348 acres of land, runners can explore scenic trails, pass by the golf course, and enjoy the serenity of park’s lakes. The park was designed by Olmsted, the same man behind New York City’s Central Park, adding a unique historical touch to your run.
Pennypack Park is home to a nine-mile trail that runs along the Pennypack Creek. The park offers diverse terrains, including paved paths, gravel trails, and woodland areas. Wildlife enthusiasts may appreciate the opportunity to spot various wild animals like deer and birds, making the run both invigorating and engaging.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Situated on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge offers an oasis for runners seeking tranquility and nature. The refuge features over 10 miles of trails winding through various habitats, including freshwater tidal marshes, meadows, and woodlands. The East Impoundment Trail is a popular 2.2-mile route, providing ample opportunities to observe the diverse ecosystem and wildlife.
Throughout these nature-focused running routes in Philadelphia and its surrounding areas, runners can enjoy beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and a diverse range of plant and animal life while pushing their limits and exploring new paths.
University and Urban Running Spots
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania offers a picturesque campus that is perfect for running. The university is located close to the downtown area and Schuylkill River, making it a central point for various running routes in the city. With its historic buildings and green spaces, runners can enjoy a combination of urban scenery and natural beauty.
Penn Park is a 24-acre urban park owned and operated by the University of Pennsylvania. It is situated between the campus and the Schuylkill River waterfront, offering four different running routes to explore. In addition to running trails, Penn Park also provides recreational spaces, fields, and meadows that are open to the public.
For runners who prefer urban settings, downtown Philadelphia offers a variety of running opportunities. One popular route is the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run, a 10-mile point-to-point race along Broad Street. This fast course takes participants through many of Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods, allowing for a unique running experience.
Another downtown option is the Ben Franklin Bridge run, which includes an out-and-back route across the iconic bridge. The newly designed piers provide a scenic view along with bars, restaurants, food trucks, hammocks, and bike trails.
The Navy Yard is a historic and modern industrial campus in South Philadelphia, which offers scenic running paths along the Delaware River. Runners can enjoy views of ships and aircraft carriers while taking advantage of the flat and well-maintained paths in this area. This running spot is a unique combination of history and innovation that contributes to Philadelphia’s diverse running scene.
Suburban Running Options
Forbidden Drive in Wissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park offers a great running trail known as Forbidden Drive. This scenic route follows the Wissahickon Creek and provides a variety of terrains for runners to enjoy. The trail is well-shaded and has plenty of points of interest along the way, making it an ideal location for those looking for a refreshing run in nature.
Cobbs Creek Trail
The Cobbs Creek Trail is another popular running option in the Philadelphia suburbs. This trail runs along Cobbs Creek and provides a combination of paved and unpaved paths, with plenty of shade and a diverse ecosystem. The trail also connects with other local parks and trails, providing runners with ample distance for longer runs.
Delaware Canal Towpath
Located in Bucks County, the Delaware Canal Towpath is a picturesque running route that follows the Delaware Canal. The flat terrain and serene environment make it an enjoyable run for all levels of runners. The towpath also offers scenic views of the Delaware River and the surrounding countryside, making it a refreshing option for runners seeking a peaceful experience.
Montgomery County Trails
Montgomery County offers various trails, parks, and paths for runners to enjoy. Some options include the Schuylkill River Trail, Pennypack Trail, and Perkiomen Trail. These trails provide diverse running routes, with a mix of paved and unpaved surfaces, as well as scenic views of the surrounding landscapes.
Chester County Trails
Chester County also has numerous trails for running enthusiasts. Popular locations include the Struble Trail, Valley Forge National Park, and the Exton Park Loop. These trails offer a combination of paved and natural surfaces, as well as scenic views of the countryside and historical landmarks- making them ideal for those looking for unique and diverse running routes.
Running Events and Races in Philadelphia
Philadelphia offers a variety of running events and races, making it a popular destination for both experienced runners and recreational joggers.
The Philadelphia Marathon is a major event in the city’s running calendar. This race weekend features a full marathon, half marathon, and an 8k run. The marathon route takes participants through several iconic locations in Philadelphia, while the half marathon loops through Center City and Fairmount Park. The 8k run offers a shorter distance for participants looking for a less challenging course. The event attracts thousands of runners, both from the USA and internationally, and is consistently ranked among the best marathons in the country by publications like USA Today.
The Rocky Run is another popular event in Philadelphia, which pays homage to the iconic movie character, Rocky Balboa. The race includes three distances – a 5k, 10k, and the 13.1-mile “Italian Stallion Challenge.” The courses follow the footsteps of the famous movie character, taking participants past many of the filming locations.
Popular Local Races
- Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon & 7.6K: The Love Run is a popular half marathon that takes runners on a 13.1-mile course through Center City and Fairmount Park. The event also features a 7.6k race for those looking for a shorter distance.
- Broad Street Run: A renowned 10-mile race through the heart of Philadelphia, starting at the North Philadelphia Transportation Center and finishing at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
- Running Events in the Suburbs: In addition to the popular events within the city, the Philadelphia suburbs offer additional options for running enthusiasts. Chester County, to the west of Philadelphia, is home to the Chester Valley Trail, and Bucks County has the Delaware Canal towpath and the scenic trails of Tyler State Park for runners to explore.
Philadelphia’s diverse selection of races and running events cater to participants of all skill levels, providing enjoyable experiences for runners and joggers alike.