Penn has a lot of runners. And for a good reason: it can reduce stress, has countless health benefits, and is a great way to see a city and get some sun. But for beginners, running at Penn can be daunting when everyone seems to already know exactly where to run every day.
With more knowledge of the area, you can feel more secure and be more confident in the distances you are aiming for. So, here is the definitive guide for runners at Penn. Whether you want a short jog in a new neighborhood or a greener long–distance run, we have you covered.
Schuylkill River Trail
This Schuylkill–hugging trail is the most widely known spot to run near campus. Accessible by ramps attached to several Schuylkill bridges, this trail extends for miles along the river, beyond the boundaries of the city. It changes from a modern boardwalk to a trodden path as it escapes the city, remaining largely flat with plentiful sun exposure.
There are few things scarier than getting locked in a cemetery at night. With that fear motivating you, spend an evening running around the grassy paths of Woodland Cemetery. But don't stay too late—the gates close every night at dusk. This is a less obvious choice for running, but it is close to Penn and relatively popular among students.
For those who like a shorter, more hilly run, Penn Park is perfect. It’s not very big, but the architects of this space jammed all the trails and plantlife they could into it. There’s usually something going on, too, if you’re into distractions.
Cobbs Creek is about 2.5 miles down Walnut from 34th, and offers a few small trails. Generally, many Penn kids don’t consider running this far into West Philly, but there is a lot to see in this area. Walnut is pretty flat the entire way
Staying on this side of the Schuylkill, run past woodland cemetery about a mile. You can stop at Bartram’s gardens, if it’s open, or continue south. Point Breeze is a few miles north of Bartram’s gardens. There are no paths, so going down Lindbergh boulevard is the only option, and a generally unexplored place for Penn students. It is a pretty direct shot, though, and comes with a definable end.
The Four Squares
Starting anywhere near campus, head up Walnut to Rittenhouse Square. Continue up Walnut until you reach Washington, about two miles from campus, then take a left. Feel free to stop anywhere for food, if you want. Heading down 6th or 7th, you’ll reach Franklin, surrounded by Philly Chinatown, with the waterfront a short run up Race Street. But to continue the traverse, take a left, and head towards Logan. From Logan, the run is easily extendable with the Schuylkill Trail adjacent, and to head back to Penn, going down 18th or 19th or taking the trail South will both bring you back.
The state boundary of New Jersey is also within running distance of Penn, if you care to brag about going to New Jersey while feeling sporty on a Saturday. To accomplish this jaunt, which averages about five miles to the land of NJ, simply run across Center City, working your way north towards the Ben Franklin Bridge. Once you’re over that, you have completed an interstate journey that you will surely tell your grandkids about.