Monday, December 7, 2009

Riding the Perkiomen and Schulykill River Trails in Pennsylvania

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to take all day, and ride the Perkiomen Trail and the Schulykill River Trail 30 miles into downtown Philadelphia.  On a day forecasted for 100% rain up until the night before, I had beautiful weather for my trip.  I caught the Perkiomen trail off of Arcola Road near Collegeville.  It runs directly into the Schulykill River Trail.   Part of the Perkiomen Trail is not paved, but can still be ridden with a road bike.  As the Schulykill River Trail comes into Manayunk, it becomes unpaved, but again still traversible on a road bike.  You could opt to hop up onto main street there and ride it to Kelly Street to connect back with the trail.  However, this is where it could get confusing for someone unfamiliar with it.  As you are coming out of Manayunk, the trail really is the sidewalk.  If you stay on the sidewalk, you can make a sharp right turn on what will become Kelly Street.  This also keeps you alongside the river, which is what you want.   You will come to the top of the Fairmount Park loop and see the bridge in the photo.  I forget the name of it.  There are a few bridges crossing the river throughout the park.  It is easy to stay on track from here all the way to the city.  You will pass the Art Museum, whose steps are now famous since the movie 'Rocky' was made in 1976.  I rode straight to the Italian Village to have lunch (fresh mozzarella, tomato, artichoke hearts on a poppy seed bagel and coffee).  Riding in Philadelphia is pretty comfortable.  There are many bike lanes, and many people bike already, so the drivers are somewhat accustomed to cyclists.  I took Spring Garden Street from the Art Museum area to 10th where I turned right to make my way down to Christian street area.  The Italian Market is on 9th street in that area.  After lunch I rode directly back on the trails, but not before buying some fresh cut cappellini pasta and some chocolate.  On the way down while on the Manayunk part of the trail, two women were walking and had spotted a couple of blue herons that have been living there for a few years now they said.  The birds were startled though and we couldn't see them.  On the way back however, I got to see them right on the trail.  They were gathering dinner.  One of them had a fish hanging out of it bill.  They are beautiful birds, and it was great to get to see them.  By the time I got back to Arcola Road it was dark.  I didn't have to be on the road for long, but it is still better to be seen than to be sorry.  I was prepared with some reflective items and lights.  It was easy enough to throw these things on just before turning onto the road.  These trails are part of a larger trail system in the area.  It was pretty nice to be able to ride off road for such a great distance.  There were plenty of spots I could see traffic on the highways, and was happy that I was not part of it.  I could have pulled my daughter in her trailer, though there would have been a few places I would have had to walk the bike.  In the morning on the way out there was alot of debris (large sticks, branches, leaves) that cluttered the trail through the Valley Forge portion from the previous nights rain and storms.  But on the way back all of that had been cleared.  They do a great job of maintaining it.  To see more photos of the ride you can visit my flickr page from the link on this blog.

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