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The Pennypack Trail travels through wooded parks in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties along Pennypack Creek, which derives its name from a local American Indian term for a slow-moving creek. History comes alive along the packed-cinder and asphalt trail as the route passes the remains of 19th-century mills and the site of a 1920s head-on train crash. The pleasant creekside views culminate in a broad vista across the Delaware River.
The northern section of the Pennypack Trail follows an old Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) commuter line that got its start as the Philadelphia & Montgomery County Railroad Company in the 1860s. It later became the Philadelphia, Newtown and New York Railroad and then the Newtown branch of the Reading Railroad. SEPTA acquired the line in 1976 but suspended service in 1983. Montgomery County leased the corridor for $1 and opened the first section of trail in 2009. The southern section of trail traces the winding creek through Pennypack Park, which the city created as one mill after another closed in the early 1900s.
Open sunrise–sunset, the path follows a steady downhill course through wooded parkland, carved out of dense neighborhoods, to the Delaware River. Horseback riding is allowed on the Montgomery County segment between Byberry Road and Robbins Avenue. The trail is part of the Circuit Trails, a developing 800-mile urban network of trails in Greater Philadelphia, of which about 350 miles are currently complete. A short section along the Delaware River is part of the East Coast Greenway that stretches 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida.
Stretching from Byberry Road to near Rockledge Avenue, the 5.4-mile-long Montgomery County section of trail is packed cinder and passes through the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, where native plants and animals are preserved. In 0.4 mile you’ll reach Creek Road Trail, where you can take a sharp right and then another sharp right onto the 1.9-mile Pennypack Creek Trail, a footpath that leads northwest through the woods and onto Pennypack Road toward Davisville Road/State Route 2042.
About 0.6 mile past Byberry Road, you’ll pass through an area known locally as Death Gulch, where two trains collided in 1921, resulting in 27 deaths. In another 1.4 miles, you’ll find a weekend food truck at the Bryn Athyn Post Office (a former train station) and picnic area. In 0.7 mile the Welsh Road trailhead provides a midpoint location for exploring both ends of the Montgomery County section.
Upon approaching the Moredon Road trailhead, you can opt to take a 0.6-mile gravel path called the Lorimer Park Trail to the southern section of the Penny-pack Trail in Philadelphia County. The Montgomery County section of the Pennypack Trail ends a little more than 1 mile farther south at Rockledge Avenue.
The southern segment of the trail begins on Pine Road at the edge of Pennypack Park, which the city started acquiring in 1905. The wooded route trends downhill toward the river, though some short hills are steep. The woods make this section of trail seem remote, although users will pass beneath multiple bridges carrying traffic overhead. One notable bridge you’ll cross comes 7.6 miles past Pine Road at Frankford Avenue; the stone-arch bridge built in 1697 is considered the oldest surviving road bridge in the United States. Side trails connect with adjacent neighborhoods along the route.
The last 2 miles of trail pass two prisons, Holmesburg Prison (closed) and Philadelphia House of Correction (slated for closure in 2020). Entering Pennypack on the Delaware Park, you’ll find a fishing pier as the river comes into sight. You’ll ride along the Delaware River for 0.8 mile until the trail ends at the 0.6-mile Baxter Trail, which crosses the creek toward Pleasant Hill Park and connects with bike lanes on State Road.
To reach the northern endpoint from I-95, take Exit 35 toward SR 63 W/Woodhaven Road. Merge onto SR 63 W/Woodhaven Road, and go 3.2 miles; then continue straight on Woodhaven Road another 0.2 mile. Turn left onto Evans St., and go 0.2 mile. Turn right onto Byberry Road. Go 0.9 mile, and veer left to stay on Byberry Road. Go 4.4 miles, and turn left into the parking lot.
To reach the southern endpoint from I-95, take Exit 30 toward SR 73/Cottman Ave. From I-95 S turn right onto Bleigh Ave., go 420 feet, and then turn right onto State Road. From I-95 N continue onto Cottman Ave. about 390 feet, and turn right onto State Road. Go about 0.5 mile, and turn right onto Pennypack Path. Go about 0.8 mile to the parking lot. Take a spur path toward the Delaware River; it will intersect with the Pennypack Trail. Turn right to head northward. The endpoint is located about 1.3 miles farther east along the trail.
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