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  1. #1
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    Philly area singletrack that isn't the Wissahickon

    If you live in Philly, you ride the Wissahickon, but let's face it - it's not easy. You spend most of your time on punishing climbs and thrilling descents. Sometimes, I would just like to ride some nice rolling singletrack where I can just enjoy myself and get a good workout in nature.

    Any suggestions? I've poked around Belmont Plateau a little, but trails are not kept up there and the paths are blocked with too many gigantic fallen trees. I have a car, so I can go other places, I just don't know where to go.

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    I ride the Wissahickon Trail at least twice a month. A couple weeks ago I was wondering the same thing, so I found the Wissahickon Trial much further north. I dropped in at Germantown Academy and rode the trail all the way to Forbidden Dr. It's only 5 miles one way, but it was flat and fast both ways. I'm not sure how much further north I could've caught the trail, but I know it at least goes through Ambler.

    Here is a pin drop
    <https: maps.google.com="" ?ie="UTF8&ll=40.127769,-75.204077&spn=0.044561,0.090809&t=h&z=14&vpsrc=6&i wloc=lyrftr:starred_items:115816711265772366236:,W issahickon+Trail+Fort+Washington*,+PA+19034,40.137 022,-75.218153">https://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=...022,-75.218153


    There are a couple areas that aren't as groomed, but again, it was an easy ride all the way.</https:>
    Last edited by stylEmon; 07-30-2013 at 11:20 AM.

  3. #3
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    depends entirely upon your definition of "Philly area" i guess

    I also can't speak to most of the ride locations on the maps SEPTR has posted as I don't make it that far east much.

    cheers.

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    I have heard good things about White Clay.

    Nockamixon is fun. I have ridden there a few times and it does not have a huge amount of vertical. Fast and flowy in spots. Pretty buff too.

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    Yes, if you can make it to White Clay or Fair Hill, they are both really fun places. About 90 minutes from center city philadelphia. Nox is nice and so is Green Lane. However, these places do not dry well and can be really muddy so I would not recommend those places if it has rained recently.
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    I agree that Nockamixon is a fun place to ride (after several dry days).
    Is that Wissahickon Trail well marked starting at the GA campus?

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    I googled white clay, sounds really nice. I never thought about Delaware, but since I live so close to 95 it's probably the closest time wise. I never even realized there was a Wissahickon trail past the end of forbidden drive. I'll have to explore that area.

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    I've seen a sign for the Wissahickon trail in Ambler. It's over the bridge on your left going towards Plymouth Meeting. I've been looking on Google Earth at it and it looks like there is a trail, may be grass though.
    You're supposed to be able to get from North Whales to Forbidden Drive along the watershed. I've explored the North Whales trail and it ends in an alley. So you must need to ride on the road and pick it up somewhere else. Possibly in Blue Bell.
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    You can't beat white clay (along with middle run and judge Morris which are adjacent parks, trails run through all 3) for flowing single track in this area. White Clay does not have any of the rocky technical stuff that wiss or French creek have but it is fast and fun with opportunities to get a little airborne and lots of miles. It's probably my favorite place to ride in the area.

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    Technically, that pin drop is still the wissahickon trail. It's not grass; it's actually a pretty smooth dirt trail. Like a mentioned earlier, pretty flat with little obstacles. Some parts in fort Washington are paved. You do run into Stenton ave at some point and have to take roads to forbidden dr, but only for about a mile.
    It's not a bad ride, but a little to relaxing for me. I want to thrash trails and try to break something. :-)

  11. #11
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    right across the street on the other side of Lincoln Drive is a singletrack trail (ride it up and back)--

    start at the far left (where the gas station is)--there is a top and bottom part there. Then you will see a house and a pool on the left (then come to the street where the old police station is)--then walk your bike up that hill and ride to the end (it is at Manayunk ave.)--

    REMEMBER here you will be at the top of the bridge above (at one part)--and kids and Whomever hang out here (I never got messed with here)--but there are some sketchy characters up here (getting high or whatever)--that is the ONE Part at the WISS you will not even see any cops.. So I would ride there early or with someone else.. (you never know)--don't wan to get robbed or get pushed off here.. There are some HIGH off the ground spots here.. Like where I told you to start riding (if you go up and above on that trail there is a spot where I started riding then and would walk my bike over that section)--why take a chance when I rode solo and fall off at that spot (you will see it when you ride there)----

    but there is a nice Single track section the way there (about 2 miles)--then ride it back... Cause the WISS is Double track mainly (so the Ambulance can get through when people get hurt riding there...)

    Then there is Pennypack park (but I have never been there)--and Gloucouster Community College trail??--it is in THE MASS series race every year...

  12. #12
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    This isn't all of the trails in the philly area, just the ones that are accessible by regional rail and a 3-5 mile ride or less: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid...41241ace&msa=0

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    I googled white clay, sounds really nice. I never thought about Delaware, but since I live so close to 95 it's probably the closest time wise. I never even realized there was a Wissahickon trail past the end of forbidden drive. I'll have to explore that area.
    If that is the case try White Clay and Fair Hill. I grew next to Fair Hill and have been riding bikes there since the late 70's and 80's. It has changed a lot but there is a ton of riding that has a more natural feel than White clay. That place is nice, but it is almost too well groomed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    that is the ONE Part at the WISS you will not even see any cops.
    That's funny. In my experience, there's only one place in the Wiss you ever will see cops (that's the parking lots at VGI). A big part of the reason mountain-biking is so valuable to the larger Wiss community, IMO.

    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    the WISS is Double track mainly (so the Ambulance can get through when people get hurt riding there...)
    Actually I think it's so they can get the little SK bulldozer through for trail maintenance. I wouldn't bank on any ambulances picking up your broken self on the trails if I were you.


    Anyway, sorry for the off-topic. The others are right, DE and Nox sound like what you're looking for.

  15. #15
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    there's only one place in the Wiss you ever will see cops (that's the parking lots at VGI).
    Oh Yeah I forgot, cops run parallels in the parking lots because of theft..

    I always parked in the lot next to the Inn restaurant and never had any problems (but the one right up that hill does...) Down from CHA..

  16. #16
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    Brandywine and Woodlawn Trustees are a bit closer.

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    Not sure how you could not love Wiss. I've ridden there two days a week, at least for the last four or five years. It's always a challenge. Once you get the groove, you can really rock it out. Nox is pretty close, but there is not that much riding. Less than 10 miles.

    White Clay is one of my favorites. But a bunch of my buddies are in the camp that finds it a bit too buff. There are only about 25 miles of trail there and it's not that hard to ride it all in a day.

    Fair Hill is fun. Less buff. A bit less obvious. But way more trails and easier to get lost.

    There are also a bunch of other places close. Look at the mid atlantic super series schedule to see. Marsh Creek, near West Chester. Nashaminy High School in southern bucks.
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    Oh yeah, forgot Bear Creek. They just had a small race there the other week, called Nationals. Although, if you aren't keen on the Wiss, you probably won't like this.
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  19. #19
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    Not sure how you could not love Wiss. I've ridden there two days a week, at least for the last four or five years. It's always a challenge. Once you get the groove, you can really rock it out
    That is what I am sayin'!!!

    There is no better trail system in the Country (with location--IN PHILLY)--and trail features (rocks, roots, flow, hills)--and across street is Singletrack, and 5 minutes away is Belmont.. Then you have the famous MANAYUNK wall (for the road race every year) you can ride up..

    Then you can ride downtown on East and West River Drive (on both sides of the river)---

    Demo 1 for beginners also... THE WISS is Real Mountain Biking (that is what I think riding a mountain with nobby tires is....)--I know the west coast has hills (but smooth AINT what I think about with Mountain Biking..)

    I wish I was still in Philly (I used to ride the WISS 5 times a week!!) I was Insanely Spoiled form a mountain Biking Perspective....

    --Then you got Reading Terminal, Cheesesteaks, China Town, South Street.... That area is THE BOMB!!! --And who would think to ride Great MTB trails!!!

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    247 that's a fantastic post. I just moved out of Rox to the burbs last week and the single biggest thkng I'll miss is being able to have access to some of the best mountain biking anywhere right from my door and without driving. Everything else you mentioned is icing on the cake. 15 years of riding there 2x a week or more to maybe once a week is going to suck.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shmack View Post
    Not sure how you could not love Wiss. I've ridden there two days a week, at least for the last four or five years. It's always a challenge. Once you get the groove, you can really rock it out. Nox is pretty close, but there is not that much riding. Less than 10 miles.

    White Clay is one of my favorites. But a bunch of my buddies are in the camp that finds it a bit too buff. There are only about 25 miles of trail there and it's not that hard to ride it all in a day.

    Fair Hill is fun. Less buff. A bit less obvious. But way more trails and easier to get lost.

    There are also a bunch of other places close. Look at the mid atlantic super series schedule to see. Marsh Creek, near West Chester. Nashaminy High School in southern bucks.
    I think the whole white clay-middlerun system is more than 25 miles. I think if you do it all, it is closer to 50. Put me in the camp that says it is too buff.
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    Don't get me wrong... I love the Wissahickon. It's just a lot of climbing and downhilling and sometimes I just want to ride some more rolling hills where I can get in the groove, especially in summer when the heat makes climbing a bit overwhelming. I'm still relatively new to biking and would like to build up my endurance and skills somewhere a bit easier.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 247 View Post
    right across the street on the other side of Lincoln Drive is a singletrack trail (ride it up and back)--start at the far left (where the gas station is)--there is a top and bottom part there. Then you will see a house and a pool on the left (then come to the street where the old police station is)--then walk your bike up that hill and ride to the end (it is at Manayunk ave.)--
    You've lost me - the Sunoco gas station at Rittenhouse street and Wissahickon Ave? I followed a trail from above Rittenhouse Street east of Lincoln Drive one time, but it petered out not far past the back of Alden Park.

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    penny pack is a bit mellower than both wiss or belmont especiially if you stay on the main trails, but it can also get overgrown.

    but yeah your best bet for miles of mellow stuff is either fair hill or white clay. if you want to venture west a little, marsh creek lake also has a good bit of non threatening singletrack (takes forever to dry out though).

    also once winter hits and things die back a little; batsto in the pine barrens has a really nice trail system that sounds like exactly what your after. probably a little sandy and overgrown in the summer but i dunno, i never ride there aside from winter when it is too wet round these parts and i need a fix.

  25. #25
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    Re: Philly area singletrack that isn't the Wissahickon

    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Yes, if you can make it to White Clay or Fair Hill, they are both really fun places. About 90 minutes from center city philadelphia. Nox is nice and so is Green Lane. However, these places do not dry well and can be really muddy so I would not recommend those places if it has rained recently.

    Less than 90 mins. You can be in Newark, De in 45 mins. Depending on traffic.

    Fair Hill is another 20 minutes directly west of White Clay.

    Thar being said, State od Delaware is being a real prick right now about the White Clay trail system, so all trail maintenance is on a definite hold. It's overgrown, trees are still down so it's not really rideable right now.

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    White Clay is definitely a good time, and you should visit at least once if you haven't been there. We are in Chester County, so Marsh Creek and Harmony Hill are near us. Harmony is a lot of climbs and then descents. Marsh Creek is a bit less up-then-down, and has some longer interesting rides.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    I think the whole white clay-middlerun system is more than 25 miles. I think if you do it all, it is closer to 50. Put me in the camp that says it is too buff.
    I think it's great that we have something as buff as white clay and something as choppy as wiss in the same region. I love them both for very different reasons.

    I was going to say neshanimy too. If you're IN the city, its not as far as a lot of the other places mentioned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 92gli View Post
    I think it's great that we have something as buff as white clay and something as choppy as wiss in the same region. I love them both for very different reasons.

    I was going to say neshanimy too. If you're IN the city, its not as far as a lot of the other places mentioned.
    Actually you are right. The variation is nice to have. I have always thought that the Newark area has some great ridding: White clay, fair hill, Brandywine, Iron Hill and Elk Neck to name the close places. And the road ridding is great as well!
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    Checking out Neshaminy tomorrow. Anything in South Jersey? I'm in Fishtown, so the Cherry Hill area is super closer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    Checking out Neshaminy tomorrow. Anything in South Jersey? I'm in Fishtown, so the Cherry Hill area is super closer.
    there's plenty in S Jersey: Kresson In Cherry Hill, Ceres, Gloucester County College... I'm in Fishtown, too, pm me if you ever wanna go for a ride.

  31. #31
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    Checking out Neshaminy tomorrow.
    Neshaminy is fun. Very small but easy to get lost (I went there twice and got lost first time.) I just rode around the outside (at the fence up top) all the was around. It is part of THE MASS Series. A lot of jumps there also (but on my 29er hardtail I did not do those) and I had an older Paragon (which cracked anyway..)

    If you park at the high school (next to the field) go in and go bear right you find this crazy hill drop out back!!

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    Spent an hour in Nashaminy this morning, had lots of fun despite getting lost and going in circles, it's like falling down there rabbit hole. It's pretty much my Platonic ideal of mountain biking in there.

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    On a side note, anybody else notice the strange smell in the Wissahickon along forbidden drive? I don't know if it is the trees or what, but something smells really kinds nasty. Anybody else notice the smell?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    On a side note, anybody else notice the strange smell in the Wissahickon along forbidden drive? I don't know if it is the trees or what, but something smells really kinds nasty. Anybody else notice the smell?
    Probably a dead crack head!

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    Quote Originally Posted by likeaboss View Post
    Probably a dead crack head!
    No, they are over in Belmont (:

    It smells like a 1 million dogs peed and pooped on the side of the trail, which the more I think about it, could actually be the truth!
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    Rittenhousetown always smells like sewage, mainly because the outdated sewer system discharges raw sewage there. They built that little pond to soak some of it up, but it didn't help much.

    Anyway, I used map my ride app on my phone and another person's route to find the trail on the east side of the park and despite a few climbs on loose rubble I couldn't handle, it was pretty fun. Plus, the trailhead is by a parking lot and picnic area in Bluebell Hill that I never even knew existed despite passing it hundreds if not thousands of times.

  37. #37
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    Pennypack Park has some nice trails only been there twice, last time in June.....the brush was a bit overgrown.
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  38. #38
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    For those parking at the Wiss, my car, along with another, was broken into this afternoon. God love the Wiss...
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    Philly area singletrack that isn't the Wissahickon

    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    For those parking at the Wiss, my car, along with another, was broken into this afternoon. God love the Wiss...
    Where do you park? We always park in the lower lot at the Valley Green restaurant. Alot of people down there never had a problem in the lower lot.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post

    For those parking at the Wiss, my car, along with another, was broken into this afternoon. God love the Wiss...
    Where do you park? We always park in the lower lot at the Valley Green restaurant. Alot of people down there never had a problem in the lower
    lot.

    Go up Germantown Ave. to Chestnut Hill College (make a left at that light and park along that row)--it is where forbidden drive starts/ends.

    There is a horse riding place there. And then ride back out to that light and make a right on Germantown Avenue (ir whatever it is called at that point)--it is the road that goes out to Plymouth Meeting Mall/Whitemarsh-----and ride over the bridge there (after the bus stop across the entrance to Chestnut Hill College)---make a right at the bridge and start riding there (you have to go left)--I am sure you have never been to that spot at the WISS before....

    --and I park right in front of the horse place (Never had any problems there with all the traffic there that street)--there I a restaurant at that coner (and an ice cream shop)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pascale27 View Post
    Where do you park? We always park in the lower lot at the Valley Green restaurant. Alot of people down there never had a problem in the lower lot.
    Yes, I should have. I came in and parked on the side lot. I have stopped parking at the upper lot for this same reason.
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    The Wissahickon Trail in the Ambler area is actually the Green Ribbon Trail and it extends from North Wales to the SRT in Manayunk. North of Ambler, the trail follows a sewer right of way that starts on the N side of Butler pike. It crosses over Mt Pleasant then crosses the creek at a ford (cement pads placed across the creek) from there it follows the right of way to Mathers Rd (abandoned) to Railroad Ave. Here the trail technically ends but you can ride left around a fence and along an access road to where the trail ducks left into the woods again (need to carry over a low barrier). Here, the trail skirts the edge of Cedar Brook Country Club, dropping down a short hill and along some twisty single track to Penlynn/ Blue Bell Pike. Follow the road for about 200 yards then it turns right onto Township Line Rd. After about 50 yards, duck into the woods on the left at the trail marker and parallel the creek along flat twisty single track. This will take you to a bunch of playing fields where there are a myriad of single track, horse trails. eventually make your way to the creek and go under a RR trestle (Landsdale/Doylestown line). Follow the sewer right of way to another ford over the creek (may need to wade a bit) and up a rocky incline to Plymouth Road. Cross over Plymouth to what looks like a private drive. The trail follows the drive for about 100 yards then cuts right onto a down trending single track. Follow this eventually back to the creek and go under another RR trestle. From this point the trail is very rock and rooty and you may need to carry in a few places. eventually the trail goes up and down a set of steps and drops to some boardwalks along the creek where you can ride again. Some rolly single track leads to Rt 202. cross over (very busy road) and continue on the trail, paralleling Township Line Rd then crossing over Swedesford Rd. After crossing the water treatment plant access rd the trail climbs and drops a bit and fords the creek a few more times before crossing over North Wales Rd. Continue on the trail, behind some housing developments and it eventually comes to a power line where you turn right, go along the power line then turn right again onto a paved path that leads to Upper Gwynedd Township Park. The trail ends here. I have ridden the trail on a mountain bike, single speed and cross bike and all are good options. Parts of the trail get very boggy during and about a week after wet weather. It is possible to ride all the way from North Wales to Center City staying mostly on trails with very little road riding.
    I happy to show anyone the trail; just drop me a PM.

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    Will see if this google map I created works:

    http://goo.gl/maps/jeD7L

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    I rode that green ribbon trail a few weeks ago on my cross bike, expecting it to be similar to forbidden drive (had I known what the terrain was like I'd have planned to ride a bit less than 65 miles ). I only rode the north section, then cut onto roads in an effort to not blow our timeline completely to hell. How does the southern half compare?

    It was pretty fun but littered with glass in a lot of spots. When I got home and looked up the website, it said that its for foot traffic only (now those interesting creek crossings make a bit more sense). Green Ribbon Trail | Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association WVWA I'm not sure what sections qualify as "WVWA" but assume most of them?
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    From Ambler south, I usually end up riding the road. From Butler, turn left on to Morris then right on Sheaff then left on 73. Turn right on to Militia Hill Rd then a quick left on the road that enters Ft. Washington State Park. From there make a left on to the Wissahickon Trail and that follows the Creek until Cricket Rd. Turn left on to Stenton then right on to West Wissahickon Road and that take you to Forbidden at Northwestern Ave.

    Sometimes I'll take the Northern part of the trail and link it up with a few roads (Morris, Cross Rd, Rt 73) and hit the Perky trail to the SRT then back up Forbidden drive and Wissahickon Trail then the roads mentioned above in reverse. Makes for a decent 60+ mile ride on the cross bike.

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    That blows about the break in, sorry to hear that. Best places to park i know of are the Rox side trail heads like Janette Lane, Hermit Lane (in the neighborhood, not the lot right on Hermit) The locals don't tollerate the criminal element that would be breaking into cars on their blocks. In all the time I lived in Rox, never heard of a break in at either of those areas.
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    Thanks Dougr,
    do you usually start in North Whales?
    Ask me about Evansburg State Park
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    I always start from home in Ambler.

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    Thanks for this map, it was pretty helpful!

    Quote Originally Posted by Dougr View Post
    Will see if this google map I created works:

    http://goo.gl/maps/jeD7L

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    To the OP,

    The best thing about Wiss and Belmont is how close these trails are to your home (provide you live Philly proper). WC/MR and Fairhill are sweet diversions, and I am glad they are in striking distance. But to be able to roll out of your house, on your bike, and arrive at a trailhead in less than 30 min is precious beyond compare. I used to hate the buggy, start/stop brutality of Belmont until I improved enough to "flow" there. Now I can really take advantage of living so close to a challenging trail system. This is your best bet if you live close by. Learn to love the Wiss and Belmont. The DE trails require a full day's commitment to ride, and for me, at least, that is a rare treat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak View Post
    To the OP,

    The best thing about Wiss and Belmont is how close these trails are to your home (provide you live Philly proper). WC/MR and Fairhill are sweet diversions, and I am glad they are in striking distance. But to be able to roll out of your house, on your bike, and arrive at a trailhead in less than 30 min is precious beyond compare. I used to hate the buggy, start/stop brutality of Belmont until I improved enough to "flow" there. Now I can really take advantage of living so close to a challenging trail system. This is your best bet if you live close by. Learn to love the Wiss and Belmont. The DE trails require a full day's commitment to ride, and for me, at least, that is a rare treat.
    I think I'll come to love Belmont more in the fall and winter - I overheat like crazy there even on decent 80 degree days because it is just so swampy and windless. It's like its own horrid microclimate in there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    ...It's like its own horrid microclimate in there.
    I used to feel like I was on the set of Predator when I first started riding there. Belmont....the trail system that hates you back. I wouldn't have it any other way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak View Post
    I used to feel like I was on the set of Predator when I first started riding there. Belmont....the trail system that hates you back. I wouldn't have it any other way.
    You are not kidding. But like Predator, there are crazy assed monsters back there. But unlike the Predator, they are not invisible. So you get to see their homeless, crack smoking ass when they are pooping in the woods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    You are not kidding. But like Predator, there are crazy assed monsters back there. But unlike the Predator, they are not invisible. So you get to see their homeless, crack smoking ass when they are pooping in the woods.
    It's not so bad anymore. There is the one beer swillin' dude I see 1 in 10 rides, and we always exchange brief pleasantries. I usually ride in the AM, though. Maybe the freaks come out at night?

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    I just hate all of the f@cking log overs. They could cut out half of them and it would still be too many. Every time I ride Belmont, I swear to myself that I'm never going to ride there again, yet I come back at least once a week.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    I just hate all of the f@cking log overs. They could cut out half of them and it would still be too many. Every time I ride Belmont, I swear to myself that I'm never going to ride there again, yet I come back at least once a week.
    Or come back with a chain saw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    Or come back with a chain saw.
    If you come with a chainsaw I will come with a machete...for you
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    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak View Post
    If you come with a chainsaw I will come with a machete...for you
    I think the chain saw would win. But for real, there are a few spots where the fallen tree over the trail is so huge it's a struggle to climb over it, much less carry a bike over. Would be nice to cut out a little jump. Are there any volunteer groups doing trail maintenance there? That crazy downhill with all the rubble is almost totally overtaken by some sort of invasive looking thing in spots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    Are there any volunteer groups doing trail maintenance there?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    But for real, there are a few spots where the fallen tree over the trail is so huge it's a struggle to climb over it, much less carry a bike over.
    Sounds like Belmont's not for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    Would be nice to cut out a little jump.
    Don't.

    Seriously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    Or come back with a chain saw.
    NO!!! That is what makes it fun. Yes, it can make it a pain in the beginning but you get used to it and learn how to get over them.

    On a complete side note, I was just ridding at Ralph Stover (High Rocks) park and kept thinking that it is a perfect blend of the Wiss and Belmont. Stover has all the rocks (if not more!) that the Wiss has and almost as many log overs as Belmont. Not as big as either but really fun!
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    I'm only referring to the ones that are higher than three feet, not what one could jump over... jumping logs is fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    I'm only referring to the ones that are higher than three feet, not what one could jump over... jumping logs is fun.
    Like the following?

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...xkxsCWriiZrYKg

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    No, the big tree. Although I admit, that there is a big tree. But yeah, I'm conflicted about fallen trees. If you cut a new trail, you wouldn't have any unless you purposely dragged one over. Then one falls and you leave it. But then over time, so many trees fall that at some point there may no longer be a trail. Is there some optimal number of trees? Is there a limit?

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    Searching the forums, I found that the argument over the appropriate number of logovers in Belmont goes back many years. I picture warring factions of clandestine trail tenders, the XC vs. Freeriders battling with U-Locks and brake disc throwing stars until forming a tenuous alliance against the equestrians.

    In any case, I don't have a chain saw, so it won't be me.

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    it would be nice if there were abut 50% fewer or at the very least, some corduroy ramps or run arounds as an option. Sometimes I like the log overs, but other times I just wanna rip and flow. Since I'm on a fatbike and have a 6- mile ride to get to belmont, somedays it gets too tiring to have to lift the front wheel ever 30 meters for another ridiculous log. And that big log before/after the bridge? mad props of the guys who can clean it, but not everyone has been riding Belmont for 10-15 years. Saying "Maybe Belmont is not for you," smacks of elitist bullshˇt.

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    My intent wasn't elitist BS, my intent was respect for the individuals who've put in the thousands of hours of trail work to make Belmont exactly what it is today.

    I happen to agree with you that Belmont would be more fun with somewhat fewer logs. And my bars are 31" wide, so I'd be happy for some more room, too. But it's not my call because it's not my work. That rule doesn't apply everywhere, but it does at Belmont.

    Belmont is quirky. If you like it, enjoy it. If you don't, there are lots of other places in the region that have broader appeal. Or talk to the Belmont guys about your concerns.

    But playing Lone Ranger with a chainsaw ain't the way, IMHO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    it would be nice if there were abut 50% fewer or at the very least, some corduroy ramps or run arounds as an option. Sometimes I like the log overs, but other times I just wanna rip and flow. Since I'm on a fatbike and have a 6- mile ride to get to belmont, somedays it gets too tiring to have to lift the front wheel ever 30 meters for another ridiculous log. And that big log before/after the bridge? mad props of the guys who can clean it, but not everyone has been riding Belmont for 10-15 years. Saying "Maybe Belmont is not for you," smacks of elitist bullshˇt.
    I don't think anyone means to sound elitist. From what I can tell, thr tension lies here:

    -A small group of volunteers have been slowly and laboriously crafting/maintaining miles of extremely challenging singletrack.
    -A larger group of riders appreciate what they have built and recognize how unique and badass the character of the trails is.
    -Newcomers either immediately dig or despise the enormous challenge that mastering the trail represents.
    -A small group of newcomers agitate for essentially ruining what the first two groups love so much.

    That isn't right. If you dislike what is going on there, attend trail clean up and build sessions to earn your right to change it. That is a pretty basic tenet of Squatter's Rights. And furthermore, the trail stewards have a good relationship with the city government land managers that govern the area. So when we say "enjoy the trail as it is or please ride elsewhere," it is a request to respectfully leave the trail the way you found it.
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    Not directly on-point, but gets at how many feel about Belmont:

    Opinion: Who Owns a Trail? - Pinkbike

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    I don't disagree, the guys that maintain & build the trails get to make the decisions. That's pretty much the way it should work. some days, I love belmont. other days, I hate it and swear that I'm never coming back, yet, I ride it at least once a week, often more and agree that I'm a better rider for it. That doesn't mean that I don't wish that were optional bypasses to some of the more onerous obstacles that don't fundamentally change the trail, but make it accessible to more than expert riders. the last thing I want is for belmont to become a boring, featureless trail like Kresson or any of the other JORBA groomed trails I've ridden. That would suck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    it would be nice if there were abut 50% fewer or at the very least, some corduroy ramps or run arounds as an option. Sometimes I like the log overs, but other times I just wanna rip and flow. Since I'm on a fatbike and have a 6- mile ride to get to belmont, somedays it gets too tiring to have to lift the front wheel ever 30 meters for another ridiculous log. And that big log before/after the bridge? mad props of the guys who can clean it, but not everyone has been riding Belmont for 10-15 years. Saying "Maybe Belmont is not for you," smacks of elitist bullshˇt.
    I will be the elitist and say maybe Belmont is not for you. Not every trail is for everyone. And Belmont is not the place for a fat bike. I have ridden with guys that clear 100% of the logs, I do about half. You won't hear me complain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trajan View Post
    I will be the elitist and say maybe Belmont is not for you. Not every trail is for everyone. And Belmont is not the place for a fat bike. I have ridden with guys that clear 100% of the logs, I do about half. You won't hear me complain.
    I ride a fat bike in Belmont from time to time. I love it. l
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    Clearly you can't please everybody, although it does strike me that in many cases you could leave half a log so people could choose their own adventure so to speak. Of course, if Belmont got the same official and quasi official attention Wissahickon gets, the point would be moot since hikers and equestrians don't much appreciate logs of any size.
    I'm ambivalent myself. I'm more interested in biking in nature than hot dogging over obstacles, but a well placed log or drop adds some excitement. I jumped a few logs today, walked a few more because it was so wet and slippery. It seems to have poured there today despite no rain falling in Center City. I cut my ride short so as to not damage the trails, having only realized how wet they were once I was in. Honestly, I'd keep every log in exchange for some trail markings. I never know where the hell I'm going in there.

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    Different strokes for different folks...at different points of their mtb "careers." Philly can accommodate us all. I am thankful for the variety, the proximity, and sheer mileage of trail we have available to us in a 50 mile radius. Stretch the radius to include the Lehigh Valley, Michaux, the Pinelands and you add even more variety and mileage. Gentlemen and ladies, we have it good.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trajan View Post
    I will be the elitist and say maybe Belmont is not for you. Not every trail is for everyone. And Belmont is not the place for a fat bike. I have ridden with guys that clear 100% of the logs, I do about half. You won't hear me complain.
    If Belmont wasn't a public park, I probably wouldn't disagree at all. However, since it is, I think that the trails should be made available to a wider skillset than just the small section of experienced riders that currently ride there. Keep in mind, I'm not saying that it should be dumbed down, but rather, as I and Formicaman have suggested, an option to go around some of the logs, not only for intermediate-level riders, but for a little variety and diversity, instead of just log, log, log, stupid high log, poison ivy, log, log, tree, log, blind hairpin, washed-out creek crossing, log, log, poison ivy, log...
    I've also ridden with guys who can clear 100% of the logs and when I've been able to keep up with them, it's been a great learning experience. On a good day, I can clear about 75% on my fatbike, but it isn't always fun- as I look at the weeping sores on my legs from Belmont's ubiquitous poison ivy patches, I'm reminded that it can suck, too.
    I agree that Philadelphia offers a huge variety of trail options, as I previously posted with the google maps link, earlier in the thread. I try to get out and ride other trails as often as I can, but since I live in e. Kensington/Fishtown and don't drive, it's not always possible for me to get out to other trails, so Belmont and Wissahickon have become my goto trails 80% of the time.

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    gigantic, wouldn't pennypack be about equidistant to you as belmont?

    good trails many less logs (plus you should enjoy it before they possibly ruin parts of it from what i hear).

    the problem with making belmont easier is that it will then attract to many folks and the layout of those trails just isn't designed to handle too many people. that said i think everyone should be encouraged to go check it out but personally i am glad that lots of people don't like that style of riding.

    wissahickon is a lot easier on the log front so there are already other close options as we all know.

    me personally i live right on the wiss but wish i lived closer to belmont. those trails suit my style a lot more than the rocky, less tech, higher speed, style of wissahickon.

    belmont is a true jem of a trail system because it is left pretty raw. as was said there are plenty of over sanitized trail systems out there (like the wiss)

    KEEP BELMONT EVIL!!!!

    oh and for the rest o the summer if you want a little tour o belmont with some fast folks (and slower ones like me) we meet every thursday the trails are rideable under the big tree by the main parking lot for a very informal "race" @ 6:30. we ride till about dusk on a different course every week drawn out with flour arrows and then regroup to drink beer and howl at the moon for a bit. really fun; if you like riding bikes in the woods fast you'll probably dig this.

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    Pennypack is a a little farther, 8 miles, vs 6, but to get there, I need to ride through the worst parts of the East Kensington and Frankford, on a fatbike... let me put it this way: I took a "Shortcut" across N Philly, by cutting across Diamond Av, to Ridge. I felt like I was riding for my life after about the 2nd or 3rd time I had someone step off of their stoop, asking "Yo, how much you pay fo dat?" I realized it wasn't a question they were asking, it was a threat. To get to Pennypack, I have to take the Fox Chase train from Temple, which, given my current income, can be a luxury expenditure. I'd rather spend the $ on a post ride beer.

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    The funny thing about Belmont is, nobody's in charge. Fairmount Park doesn't really acknowledge its existence as a mountain bike destination and there is no Friends of the Wissahickon type group with clout and a budget. I know there is a group on Facebook that I guess is the officially sanctioned group - they have done some cleanups and even removed some illegal trails, but it's still pretty ad hoc as far as I can tell.

    I guess whoever would bother to blaze a new illegal trail must be a mountain biker. Same guy or group of guys could go cut out a bunch of logs tomorrow if the other bikers who like the logs didn't get to him first. And I wouldn't put it past some environmental warrior hiker to purposely block trails because they don't like bikes. Craziness!

    For good or bad, no active trail manager would leave the trail the way it is. Even if it were a private bike course, the owners would probably want a little something for everybody. Then again, I'd rather see it ignored and log-strewn than closed to bikers, so I for one won't be saying anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougr View Post
    From Ambler south, I usually end up riding the road. From Butler, turn left on to Morris then right on Sheaff then left on 73. Turn right on to Militia Hill Rd then a quick left on the road that enters Ft. Washington State Park. From there make a left on to the Wissahickon Trail and that follows the Creek until Cricket Rd. Turn left on to Stenton then right on to West Wissahickon Road and that take you to Forbidden at Northwestern Ave.

    Sometimes I'll take the Northern part of the trail and link it up with a few roads (Morris, Cross Rd, Rt 73) and hit the Perky trail to the SRT then back up Forbidden drive and Wissahickon Trail then the roads mentioned above in reverse. Makes for a decent 60+ mile ride on the cross bike.
    Ha, that's the same ride I was doing, though I started in Graterford and went in the other direction (took Skippack trail and rode through the edge of evansburg park too). And here I thought I was smart.

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    Quote Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
    The funny thing about Belmont is, nobody's in charge. Fairmount Park doesn't really acknowledge its existence as a mountain bike destination and there is no Friends of the Wissahickon type group with clout and a budget. I know there is a group on Facebook that I guess is the officially sanctioned group - they have done some cleanups and even removed some illegal trails, but it's still pretty ad hoc as far as I can tell.
    had this been a year or two ago you'd be right but in recent developents FPC has now officially sanctioned all the belmont trails and the belmont trails alliance actually gets full park support on their maintanence days out there. I dunno about "active trail managers" or what you mean there but even though it may not look like it, belmont trails are acknowledged by the city in their current state and there are no plans to alter anything as far as i know. if you want to talk to folks about this i highly encourage reaching out to the belmont trails alliance. but believe me there are lots of folks that like belmont EXACTLY like it is and are working hard to keep it that way.

    you want signs and wide trails BOOM wissahickon...

    Gigantic, i can totally see what your saying about getting to pennypack. i rode through kensington in lycra once on the way home from pennypack. that will be the last time i do that i think. or maybe with gears... 34x21 would not have been enough to outrun some of those folks had they been a little more aggresive. could you maybe ride along the delaware up here and then ride out toward the singletrack along the creek? mebbe slightly less sketch?

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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    gigantic, wouldn't pennypack be about equidistant to you as belmont?

    good trails many less logs (plus you should enjoy it before they possibly ruin parts of it from what i hear).

    the problem with making belmont easier is that it will then attract to many folks and the layout of those trails just isn't designed to handle too many people. that said i think everyone should be encouraged to go check it out but personally i am glad that lots of people don't like that style of riding.

    wissahickon is a lot easier on the log front so there are already other close options as we all know.

    me personally i live right on the wiss but wish i lived closer to belmont. those trails suit my style a lot more than the rocky, less tech, higher speed, style of wissahickon.

    belmont is a true jem of a trail system because it is left pretty raw. as was said there are plenty of over sanitized trail systems out there (like the wiss)

    KEEP BELMONT EVIL!!!!
    If someone will pay for the vinyl I will totally make a sticker of this!! The phrase bookended by jagged glass and an angry buck.

    Belmont is a harsh mistress, and whatever doesn't kill you makes you stranger.... Err, stronger. Add me to the list of axe wielding psychos who will track down anyone who tries to manicure her.

    I had only rode the Wiss like maybe four times before discovering Belmont. About as green as you can get with technical riding. I was way in over my head for MONTHS there. But it made me HTFU and become a better rider. At least there is a trail system where it is not so busy you can stop and re try a section three or four times if your want without feeling like an asshat blocking people.

    Ad every log that I CAN do (or those damn twin rocks) that I couldn't before is a small victory that elicits whoops and hollas... So again, if you cut out that log, I will cut you.

    And tell me the last time you ran into actual fauna in the Wiss, aside from squirrels. I popped into the start of the 'mouse trail' a few months back, at the top of the stairs where there are some trees to duck under, and staring me face to face on the first horizontal tree was a groundhog. Lets just say we were equally shocked to see each other. Also has to do a one eighty on the trial after facing off with some stags that wouldn't scare off during rutt. That one was scary!

    Belmont and Wiss are the perfect ying/yang. Lung busting and logical or teeth (log)grinding and manical.

    *edit: to those getting hit by poison ivy... You sure it's that and not stinging nettles? I have been hit by them several times in Belmont. There is supposed to be a plant that grows by them that will calm a sting down.

    Also, I have been thinking about doing the Thursday rides, but I am on the slow side. Is it a fairly mixed group or all scorchers?

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    The Thursday group rides are a mixed group, but the fast guys are stupid fast. Overall the ambiance is chill.
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    Philly area singletrack that isn't the Wissahickon

    Rode Wiss yesterday, rode the section across Lincoln Dr, the spaghetti bowl. Nice compliment to Wiss, little more old school and not as sterilized as Wiss is now.
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    Gigantic, there is a little singletrack spur off that too if you know where to look... is it called spaghetti bowl? never heard that name before... but it is hands down my favorite wiss section (becuase it is belmont like).

    i will look for a strava segment of it and post it up if i find it. or if anyone else has the digital goods on that singletrack throw em up.. very singletracky and very low traffic compared to the rest of the park.

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    I rode up that stretch on monday, but I didn't find the spaghetti bowl, although overall, I enjoyed it a lot. I'll keep an eye out for it next time i ride it.
    I've found enough trails that I can almost make it from the art museum Through wissahickon with minimal pavement. There's a little known section of trails on fairmount park that stretches from fairmount up to Strawberry mansion. It makes it a nice haul.

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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    believe me there are lots of folks that like belmont EXACTLY like it is and are working hard to keep it that way.

    you want signs and wide trails BOOM wissahickon...
    You're spot on about the guys wanting Belmont to stay the way it is. It's a mecca for the technical-loving singlespeeders, and the cyclocross guys wouldn't have much of a race without logs to climb over, either. Even the local runners love having their cross-country races there; it makes it a bit like an obstacle race.
    I personally stay away from there all summer, and head back when the weeds, prickers, and poison has died off. It's a great spot to go for short rides, and helps keep your senses alert!

  87. #87
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    The only thing about Belmont I'm not fond of is the glass. Went out there sans gloves last week and was like "what am I thinking!?" Since I end up stopping or bailing maybe three times a ride I make a point to toss any glass I see deep into the bushes.

    I have theories ranging from drunk kids to grumpy homeowners... Any idea where all that glass comes from? It shows up so much (and strategically place bottles not smashed yet) that it has to be ongoing...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    I rode up that stretch on monday, but I didn't find the spaghetti bowl, although overall, I enjoyed it a lot. I'll keep an eye out for it next time i ride it.
    I've found enough trails that I can almost make it from the art museum Through wissahickon with minimal pavement. There's a little known section of trails on fairmount park that stretches from fairmount up to Strawberry mansion. It makes it a nice haul.


    Can you share how you do this? i would love to bypass riding on kelly dr. to get to the wiss.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike for days View Post
    The only thing about Belmont I'm not fond of is the glass. Went out there sans gloves last week and was like "what am I thinking!?" Since I end up stopping or bailing maybe three times a ride I make a point to toss any glass I see deep into the bushes.
    Echo this.

    It's like the earth continuously belches forth the glass shards. There is an endless supply. I blame all the worms.
    Responds to gravity

  90. #90
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    Underground winos? Chuds? I think yer onto something here...

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    Quote Originally Posted by vwsutton19 View Post
    Can you share how you do this? i would love to bypass riding on kelly dr. to get to the wiss.
    if you cross kelly at the US Grant statue and look for a trail heading west i believe that is what gigantic is talking about...

    problem with using it to get to wissahickon is it doesn't go back down to ridge at the end but peters out up by the dell requiring you to either ride ridge ave over to wiss or drop down and cross kelly again.

    this trail i believe: https://www.google.com/#fp=c55f89b54...ia+boxer+trail

  92. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by vwsutton19 View Post
    Can you share how you do this? i would love to bypass riding on kelly dr. to get to the wiss.
    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    if you cross kelly at the US Grant statue and look for a trail heading west i believe that is what gigantic is talking about...

    problem with using it to get to wissahickon is it doesn't go back down to ridge at the end but peters out up by the dell requiring you to either ride ridge ave over to wiss or drop down and cross kelly again.

    this trail i believe: https://www.google.com/#fp=c55f89b54...ia+boxer+trail
    That's most of it, but you can actually start around fairmount and piece together sections of the trail. It's a little overgrown and in spots, has a lot of poison ivy, but it beats dodging pedestrians on the Schuykill trail

  93. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill View Post
    problem with using it to get to wissahickon is it doesn't go back down to ridge at the end but peters out up by the dell requiring you to either ride ridge ave over to wiss or drop down and cross kelly again.
    Crossing Strawberry Mansion Bridge and using the west river drive trail makes more sense, easier than crossing Kelly with no light!

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