Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt
cherdt

Pennypack Park

This morning, tawdryjones and I rode our bikes to Pennypack Park in NE Philly. The roundtrip from Center City was about 40 miles (Google says 38, but we had a few detours). The park itself is beautiful, a great paved trail that runs alongside a creek, lots of ups-and-downs and twists-and-turns to keep the trail interesting. We heard many birds and saw butterflies, squirrels, chipmunks, a snake, a horse (with rider), and deer. Anyone interested can view our approximate route. It looks like a short jog down Pine Road could get you to another trail along Pennypack Creek, but at that point we decided to turn back.

Of course, getting there and back was another story. Although we discovered that Yards Brewery, Morgan's Pier, and Sugar House Casino are within easy biking distance, after that the route was less pleasant. We biked through an industrial wasteland along Delaware Ave until Google's directions suggested taking Aramingo. The problem was that the route to get to Aramingo was also basically a freeway entrance to I-95 (it is very Michigan of me, I've discovered, to call it I-95 instead of 95). We took an alternate route to get to Aramingo, which had a bike path but was basically a major thoroughfare lined by big box stores and strip malls.

From Aramingo, we cut over on Castor Ave. to Kensington, which we took to Torresdale Ave., which also has a bike path. Torresdale is a good chunk of the ride--just keep going for 4-5 miles until you get to the prison(!), then the park will be on your left. I apologize to those who call Torresdale Ave. their home, but the area is run-down and was not my favorite part of the ride. The sun was also blazing and there wasn't a bit of shade.

(Have I mentioned that smartphones and GPS are awesome? They are, they really are.)

The park, as I said, was great. Although there were families out, joggers, fishermen, dog-walkers, other cyclists, and at least one equestrian, it was a quiet trail and fully-shaded. Apparently I was near (or under? or on?) the Frankford Avenue bridge, the oldest bridge still in use in the U.S. (built in 1697). My favorite park patrons were the super-fit old man (talk about muscle-definition! and flowing gray hair!) and the surly teen who was chain-smoking and listening to his iDevice. I also liked the latino family who clearly had managed to drive their car down the narrow bike path to have a barbecue party by the creek. tawdryjones mentioned an affinity for the Asian woman who was carrying enough bags that it looked like she was returning from a shopping trip to Macy's. The park is a gem, and although it is clearly appreciated by the neighboring residents, I do think it is a shame that there doesn't seem to be a convenient way to get there from Center City. Although if it were easier to get to, perhaps it wouldn't be as pleasant to visit!

On the way back we decided to avoid the industrial parks and take Kensington back from Torresdale. This was underneath the Market-Frankford line (the blue line, known by natives as the El), and I was grateful for the shade. On the other hand, the scenery left much to be desired. My favorite was the pregnant woman sitting on a stoop, vomiting between her legs. The neighborhood was a little rough. Eventually we saw a young hipster on a bike with lots of tattoos: the first sign of gentrification. Soon we found recognizable Fishtown landmarks, such as Kung-Fu Necktie.

Kensington turned into Front, and Front Street at some point becomes a narrow street paved with stones, so as soon as we found a street we knew (Fairmount) we rode over to 12th, and then south to Center City. Whereupon we went to Parc with well_lahdidah to celebrate a Bastille Day brunch.

I almost surely got too much sun.
Tags: bicycle, biking, philadelphia
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