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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...

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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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  13. #13
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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.

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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!!!

  20. #20
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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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  26. #26
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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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    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.
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  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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  36. #36
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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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    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.

  46. #46
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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.
    Buy the ticket, take the ride. -HST

  47. #47
    mtbr member
    Reputation: fell_brook's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
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    Thanks Dougr,
    do you usually start in North Whales?
    Ask me about Evansburg State Park
    Trail days. 3rd Sunday
    of the month.

  48. #48
    mtbr member
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    I always start from home in Ambler.

  49. #49
    mtbr member
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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

  50. #50
    Dinner for wolves
    Reputation: buddhak's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
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    1,557
    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.
    Responds to gravity

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