Riding around Philly

echappy

Active Member
#1
What are some places I can go around Philadelphia. Everyone has heard of the Wiss; how difficult is it compared to, say Lewis Morris?

I know there are a few reservoirs northwest of the city, what about those? I guess I can always go to Allaire as well.

What about Nox and White Clay?
 
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Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
#2
If you can ride LM you can ride any of those 3: Wiss, Nox, WC. But only Wiss is close to Philly. I mean it's in Philly.

They are all great parks. If you get lost easily go to Nox.
 

1speed

Incredibly profound yet fantastically flawed
#3
I raced LewMo once so I don't have a huge sample to compare that, but I would say Wiss is a bit more challenging from what I do recall about LewMo. Wiss is certainly bigger. Wiss is lots of short power climbs and descents with a few rock gardens thrown in. Total mileage at this point (it's always growing) is about 30 miles if you hit every bit of it, but if you just do the main loop, it's probably about 19 or 20. Overall averages a little over 100 feet of climbing per 10 miles, which doesn't sound like much, but it's all short steep stuff and it's constant. Wiss dries out better than any place I've ever been - usually rideable within a few hours after a storm. Wiss is a destination spot worth the drive from (probably) up to two-three hours away. It's got enough to make you feel the trip is worth it and it's also got three breweries within spitting distance of the main trails.

Other than Wiss, the Philly area has a ton of other rides. Belmont Plateau is very close to Wiss. It's a bit techier, and usually gets overgrown in the outer sections. But it's growing in mileage and there seems to be a lot more users hitting now than in the past, so we're starting to see some trail features out there. Belmont is a challenging ride for beginners - it's the log-hop capital of the universe: I don't think they've ever cleared a tree that fell across the trail there. It's just log after log after log in some sections.

Nox is a popular spot, too. It's well outside the city up in Bucks County. Nox is pretty easy - a few isolated rock gardens, but otherwise it's mostly just (in my opinion over)built singletrack that twists and turns. If you're driving far to go to Nox, plan on doing two laps to justify the trip because it's only about 9 miles total. NEVER go to Nox when it's wet. It's probably closed anyway, and if it's not, you will catch shit from anyone who sees you. Also in the general area:

Marsh Creek (west of Philly near Downingtown) - fun to ride, a couple steep climbs, but very flowy. About 12 miles of trail. Best part about Marsh Creek is it's only a couple miles from Victory Brewing! DEFINITeLY avoid when wet - place gets sloppy with mud that sucks you in.

French Creek (also west of the city above Birdsboro off 422) - awesome place to ride but very technical in spots. Some pretty aggressive climbs (especially in the Hopewell Furnace Section off the Shed Road parking area) and rock gardens. About 20-25 miles of trail (but you can get more if you're willing to double back and explore little mini-loops.) Avoid when wet, though!

Blue Marsh - (about an hour to an hour and half northwest of Philly just past Reading) - I love Blue Marsh personally. Possibly one of my favorite places to ride. 30 mile loop around the lake that's an XC rider's paradise. Can be cut short to 22 miles if you don't cross Church Road to hit the mountain. Two or three tough climbs, but all of them rideable. The 30 mile loop is a great workout and very scenic. I've used this place for endurance training rides for years. Another place to avoid when wet, but mostly because the lake can jump its banks in some spots, and unless you have lots of local knowledge, cutting the ride short at any point is really tough - you're basically continuing forward or turning back around to quit.

Middle Run/White Clay - (Newark De) - If you want to know what Raystown is like without driving 4 hours to get there, just go to Middle Run. White Clay and Middle Run are the same place - but if you actually enter where the park signs says "White Clay", it's a state park and you have to pay to park there. If you go to the Middle Run entrance off Possum Park Road, it's the same trails but it's a county park and you don't have to pay. Middle Run is pretty much Raystown-light. Not quite the same size berms and rollers, but pretty close with almost the same mileage. Nothing technical about it, really. A few climbs now and then but nothing hard. Great place to rip it up. Dries out semi-quickly, but usually takes a day after a summer storm.

Fair Hill - (just outside Newark across the Maryland border on 273) - Very similar to Middle Run but much, MUCH bigger. Fair Hill is super fun to ride, but it's a very popular horse park with miles and miles and miles of trails. It'd be tough to fit them all in on a single day, but if you really want to stretch yourself, have at it. If I want big miles out that way, I usually do the Middle Run/Fair Hill double -- I'll do 25 miles in Middle Run and another 25 in Fair Hill. They're also seven miles apart on the road, so I'm looking at a+60 miles day when I do that, and there is enough up and down to make that hurt a bit. Fair Hill is just like Middle Run in terms of drying out, althoguh one or two spots seem to stay wet for weeks at a time. Also, lots of creek crossings out there.

That's probably a good list for destination spots if you're taking a longer drive. Neshaminy High School has some trails behind it, but honestly I never go there, so I don't know other than having raced there what it's like to just ride the trails. Lots of poison ivy in those woods, though.
 

1speed

Incredibly profound yet fantastically flawed
#5
Oh - one more. I'm really disappointed in myself for forgetting this one: Green Lane. Green Lane is north of the city up in Montgomery County. Green Lane is becoming one of my favorite rides - we do a group ride there every Tuesday night. It's only got about 17 miles of trails, but it packs a little bit of everything into that 17 miles - flowy singletrack, ultra-techy rock gardens, tough climbs, creek drops and crossings. It's got it all. Tough to call it a destination spot with so few miles available, and you kind of need a guide or at least a Garmin track to hit everything there. But if you ever have the chance to ride it while in the area, it's worth it. Another place to avoid in the wet, though - some of the more flowy trails get very muddy and hold water. My buddy is head of the trail crew there, and he's been working on fortifying some of the worst spots, so it's getting better. But still a tough place to ride in the mud.
 

echappy

Active Member
#6
@1speed, thanks so much for that info. Your posts are sticky-worthy in the Trail Talk subsection.

Where do you meet on Tuesday nights, and is it beginner friendly? Also, are there Green Lane trails that cut out the techy rock gardens?

Btw, I'm watching youtube videos of riding in these parks. Apparently there's an un-protected wide pipe that's being used as a viaduct? Shudders to think what might happen if one slips on that thing:eek:

~0:52 of this video

 

1speed

Incredibly profound yet fantastically flawed
#7
@1speed, thanks so much for that info. Your posts are sticky-worthy in the Trail Talk subsection.

Where do you meet on Tuesday nights, and is it beginner friendly? Also, are there Green Lane trails that cut out the techy rock gardens?

Btw, I'm watching youtube videos of riding in these parks. Apparently there's an un-protected wide pipe that's being used as a viaduct? Shudders to think what might happen if one slips on that thing:eek:

~0:52 of this video

In the video, the section he is riding there where he crosses the pipe is not a part of the regular trail. There are a bunch of pipe crossings like that here and there throughout the park, but you don't have to ride any of them - there are cheat routes around all those kind of things. But even if you did want to ride them, the pipes are actually pretty wide and you'd have no issues with falling off them. The only stuff at Wiss that can kill you is really obvious well before you're in the middle of it, so you can always just get off and walk it. In fact, to my knowledge right now, the hardest thing at Wiss is a trail called "tightrope" that comes back from the Cresheim trail. It's ultra techy early and then off-camber with a nearly vertical climb at the end, and since the rains caused some rocks to slide, the early parts are all but unrideable now, so I usually just walk them. But outside of that, there is nothing dangerous out there - just stuff that will beat up your legs and lungs!

As for our Tuesday Night ride, the answer to both questions there is "Absolutely!" It is beginner friendly precisely because there are opt-outs. In fact, two of our regulars, Nicole and Eric, always opt out of the techy sections and even some of the longer climb sections to ride the dirt roads just because they're worried about keeping up with the rest of us, so anyone who doesn't know the shortcuts would even have a guide most weeks. You could pick and choose what you want to ride. The ride regroups here and there throughout the park so we all more or less finish together. After the ride, we hit up the bar across the street on 29. We meet at the old Univest bank that is about to become the Perkiomen Valley Brewing Company's new home right where Route 29 meets Route 63. Starts at 6:30. There is a STRAVA club for the park, and the Green Lane Trail Crew has a FB page that includes info as well (I can't link to that at work because our firewall doesn't allow social media access, but just look up "Green Lane Park Trail Care Crew".)
 

fidodie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#8
Neshaminy is farther north. Worth a couple loops. It is south of nox.
Core Creek is out there. farther north is high rocks.