“Running on a treadmill isn’t half the experience of exercising outside, where you can really seeing nature in full boom,” says Bryn Mawr Running Company owner Bob Schwelm—”full bloom,” of course, being a blanket of white snow.
But before you hit the snow-packed trails with reckless abandon, a bit of gear advice: Karen McGovern, owner of Rittenhouse Sports Specialties, says what shoes you wear should dictate where you run. For example, if you don’t have good shoes for wet running conditions, don’t bother with the Wissahickon in the winter—the wind and snow will seep right through the mesh and your tootsies will freeze. Your best bet is to head for the Schuykill Trail, which is usually less murky, or make use of the tracks at Temple and Penn, which have to be ready for their athletes, anyway.
But since the entire point of this post is to take a run in the snow somewhere pretty, invest in some good shoes, dammit! McGovern recommends Gore-Tex, a waterproof and breathable fabric that will hold up in nasty weather, or Storm Shield, which is similar to Gore-Tex in its ability to protect your toes. They both sound badass to me.
Okay, now that you’re fully ready to hit the snowy trails, here are the 10 prettiest spots to do so, as selected by gurus at several running stores in our area.
:: Haverford Nature Trail – Schwelm remarked that this 2.2 mile wood-chip trail, circling Haverford College, is a favorite among runners in the area. (Editor’s note: We love it, too! The nature trail won a Best of Be Well Philly award last year.)
:: Valley Forge National Historic Park – This place is HUGE and full of history. What else could you ask for? With a ton of land and a ton to see, Valley Forge Park could warrant a few visits before you’re through.
:: Lake Galena – At 5.75 miles circling a peaceful reservoir, the loop around this Peace Valley Park trail is an awesome length and the perfect getaway from everyday’s hustle and bustle.
:: Parkway trail - Though not necessarily away from the car slush, the US202-700 Parkway trail brings to the table what Lake Galena’s tranquil atmosphere does not: a little action.
:: Delaware Canal State Park – Another trail for history buffs and runners of any experience level, the Delaware Canal is a 60-mile jog into our country’s early and mid-19th century past.
:: Struble Trail - Having grown up running this trail, the Struble holds a special place in my heart. It’s understated, following the simple Brandywine Creek as it flows toward Downingtown, but its serenity is not to be overlooked.
:: Wissahickon Trail - Although McGovern warned us about wearing the correct shoes, the Wissahickon is a popular spot to run, with nearly 20 miles of good reasons.
:: Schuylkill River Trail – Literally a BILLION miles running alongside the Schuylkill River (read: approximately 130 miles when totally completed), this trail has an intrinsically great view. I’d stick to the Philadelphia segment of the path, which is still 10 miles long and will undoubtedly work you out.
>> Where are your favorite spots to run in the snow? Share in the comments!
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