This run is not for everyone, the hills are difficult because they are long and steep. There is also a lot of single track off of the fire road. In the 1980’s this was called one of the hardest cross country courses in the country. It offers you a lot of variety close to downtown Philadelphia. Fairmount Park also give you an awesome view of the skyline of Philadelphia. These trails are used for CYO, high school and college cross country invitationals and meets. The park will be packed on a beautiful day due to the park having football, baseball and other fields.
What Makes It Great
The Belmont Plateau one of the best trail running locations under 10 miles from downtown Philadelphia. It has some ridiculous hills, endless single track spin offs, rock gardens and roots all over the place. There are two hills that stick out to people after running this course. The first one, is directly off of the fire road. It’s a steep hill made of rocks. It will burn you out if you take the hill to hard. The second one is Shirk Hill but some people will refer to it as Sure Will Kill You Hill. It is all single track and about 3/4 of a mile long and at the top of it there is a huge log that you have to jump over. The overall technicality of this run is awesome there are times where you have to worry about root systems or rock gardens. This gives you the feeling that you are running in the middle of a huge forest out west. I feel that is the best part of the entire run, feeling like you lost in a forest so close to the city. The difficulty of this run makes it fun once you are done with this run you are going to feel like you just had a hard workout. Making it an awesome place to go for a run.
Who is Going to Love It
The people who will love this run are people who enjoy hills. There are a few intense hills on this run which increase the intensity and difficulty of the run. People who like running single track will also truly dig this run. There are a lot of times where the overgrowth is so bad that you can barely fit on the trail. You are also likely to see people mountain biking on these back trails due to the technicality of the trails. If you are looking for a place to run that reminds you of running out west this is the place for you.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From downtown Philadelphia you will take I-76 Westbound towards Valley Forge. Once on I-76 W take Exit 341 for Montgomery drive. Once you take this exit make a left onto Montgomery Drive. Follow it to Army Road and there is a parking lot there. After you park you just have to run towards the woods on the fire roads and you can start exploring the trails.