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Your Guide to Running in Philadelphia

Play Video Schuylkill Banks. Photo by JPG Photo Video.
Date December 14, 2023

Your Guide to Running in Philadelphia

Do you like to stay active when visiting a new city? You’re in luck — Philadelphia is a city built for runners.

Whether you prefer slow jogs or 4-minute miles, there are options for running in Philadelphia for everyone.

“You can retrace the footsteps of the Founding Fathers, take in the skyline from numerous easily accessible vantage points or listen to the sounds of your own footsteps along the trails in one of our beautiful urban parks like the Wissahickon or Pennypack,” said Liz Pagonis of Philadelphia Runner, an independent specialty running company.

“There are over 50 organized running clubs to meet up with and even more races that embrace and celebrate running in Philadelphia like the Philadelphia Distance Run, Philly Run Fest, Philadelphia Marathon, and the largest 10-mile road race in the country that runs right through the heart of the city – the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run.”

Find the trail, group, or tour that’s best for you and your running style for your stay in Philadelphia.

Running trails in Philadelphia

A bridge is shown with a pedestrian walkway. The Philadelphia skyline is shown off to the left. The sun appears to be rising to right beyond the bridge.

The Benjamin Franklin Bridge’s pedestrian walkway is also a great running path that provides stunning views of the city skyline. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Embark on an exhilarating running adventure with these route recommendations from Pagonis of Philadelphia Runner:

Across the Ben Franklin Bridge

Run to New Jersey and back via the bridge’s pedestrian path which visitors can access via 5th and Race Streets. From the start of the bridge, it’s a three-mile round trip journey. This path offers stunning views of the Delaware River and the Philadelphia skyline, particularly at sunrise or sunset.

Kelly Drive aka “The East Falls Loop”

This nearly nine-mile run begins at Lloyd Hall, One Boathouse Row, next to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first segment stretches along the Schuylkill River to the Falls Bridge. Turn left, cross the bridge and turn left again, to head back downtown on MLK Jr Drive. For the very ambitious: Stay on the path, passing the bridge. The trail stretches for almost 20 more miles to Valley Forge National Park.

Along the Schuylkill River

To get in a two-mile run along the river, start at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and follow the Schuylkill River Trail, which is both on land and in the river thanks to the Schuylkill Banks boardwalk, until it ends in South Philadelphia.

Along the Delaware River

The Delaware River Trail runs about 1.5 miles along the Delaware River from Washington Green (Washington Ave at S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard) to the Race Street Pier (Race Street at N. Christopher Columbus Boulevard), bringing you by some of the Delaware River Waterfront’s many public spaces including Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, and Cherry Street Pier.

Boxer’s Trail

Nature lovers will enjoy this nearly four-mile path in East Fairmount Park, named in honor of boxers who trained there. In fact, this is were Muhammad Ali found Joe Frazier to challenge him to a match. Start and end your run in West Philadelphia at Reservoir Drive and North 33rd Street near the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf course.

Wissahickon Valley Park

A scenic, sprawling oasis just outside of Center City with a whopping 50-plus miles of trails in its 1,800 acres. Start at Forbidden Drive, the gravel path along the Wissahickon Creek, before seeking higher ground to hike the steep wooded trails that cut through the Wissahickon Gorge.

Competitive running in Philadelphia

Runner for University of Pennsylvania in blue and red uniform holding a baton races on a track at Franklin Field for the Penn Relays.

Penn Relays. Photo by S. Spitzer, courtesy of University of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia is also home to a number of annual running events and competitions, which are perfect to plan a trip around if you enjoy participating in (or spectating) alongside others from around the state, nation, and world.

The Love Run

A sell-out event each year, the Love Run Half Marathon takes runners through Philadelphia’s great sights on an uplifting racecourse. The half marathon is held annually each March, typically on the last weekend of the month.

Penn Relays

The nation’s oldest and largest track and field competition, featuring top competitors from around the world at the high school, collegiate, and Olympic levels. Held annually at historic Franklin Field each April.

Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run

A true Philadelphia tradition, the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run is one of the fastest and largest 10-mile runs in the country. The course is a point-to-point race along Broad Street, taking participants through many of Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods. The Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run takes place annually in the spring.

Philadelphia Distance Run

The Philadelphia Distance Run annually takes place in the fall and includes two races: a 13.1-mile half marathon that loops through Center City and Fairmount Park, and a 5k route that stretches along Kelly Drive on the eastern shore of the Schuylkill River.

Philadelphia Marathon

Offering a marathon, half marathon, and an 8k run, Philadelphia Marathon Race Weekend has a course for every runner.  Even children can participate in the fun with the short distance Youth Fun Run, complete with medals and refreshments for participants. The main event of the weekend features the full marathon, a 26.2 mile race that captures the very essence of Philadelphia along its path, as it winds through every neighborhood. Don’t miss the Health & Fitness Expo, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Looking for more ways to stay active in Philadelphia? Check out our outdoors guide.