75% of this Center City Running Route Was Run on Grass or Trails

I love running on trails, but living and working in Center City, Philadelphia usually means lots of rock hard sidewalks and congestion. Today I decided to see just how little of that I could encounter.

The benefits of running on soft surfaces that immediately come to mind are:

  • Reduced loading on joints as the ground absorbs more of your impact.
  • Varied footstrike and gait patterns due to uneven terrain may mean less overuse injury risk as your body doesn't experience the same stride over and over again (although you'll need to watch your footing).
  • Great surface to run on if you are raising mileage and wanting to reduce injury risk.
  • Awesome for reducing elevated muscle tension the day after a hard workout or race.

So here's the route.  Look's pretty familiar to most Philly runners, I'm sure!

I started at City Hall and ran northwest along the parkway. Currently it's a little crazy with construction by Logan Circle, so I stayed on the south side of the Parkway until I reached 20th St.  From 20th onward, I ran on the northern side of the Parkway in the grass and hardly had to touch any pavement for the next 2 miles.

I noticed this striking new tree sculpture across from the Art Museum as I ran between Pennsylvania Ave. and Kelly Drive. Anyone know the details on this?

Staying in the grass, I followed Pennsylvania Ave to the park across the street from the 2601 Parkway condos. Continuing away from the city, I ran through a very small wooded area that is popular with dog walkers, but I found it to be a fun little trail network and noticed the train tracks beyond the fence to my right.

After descending a very short hill, I found myself crossing Sedgley Dr. and quickly ascending this little connector trail that brought me to the top of Lemon Hill.

I stayed to the left, in the grass, and found the “secret” trail that weaves between Boathouse Row and Lemon Hill Dr. It dumped me out to the valley between 2 Lemon Hill, um, hills.

Finally, continuing away from the city, I ran up towards the gazebo that overlooks Boathouse Row which is often occupied by people hooking up or waiting for trouble. Today it wasn't, and I circled behind and found another cool trail. Having run here before, I know it's a cool twisty trail that leads to the Girard St Bridge...

But it was time to turn around, so after a minute's time playing on this fun stretch of trail, I retraced my grassy steps, legs refreshed, feeling ready to attack tomorrow's workout :-)

Let me know if you try it - or if you know of any other secret urban trails!)