Mount Moriah and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

The nature of the city is encapsulated in Mount Moriah and John Heinz.

Mount Moriah and John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
~ Cycling through ~ at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Southwest Philadelphia.
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After weeks of riding favorite routes in places like the Wissahickon and the hills of Gladwyne, we were craving a change of pace and scenery and set out for a spin along the Cobbs Creek Trail to Southwest Philly's John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

Caffeinated and eager to ride, we pedaled down Baltimore Ave while dodging trolley tracks and jockeying for position with a new friend who prefers to ride on one wheel. We were heading for the Cobbs Creek Trail, which runs along its namesake waterway on the city's western boundary from Market St to Heinz.

We decided to take a detour into Mount Moriah Cemetery, the resting place of 150,000 souls, which was overtaken by nature and abandoned in 2011. In addition to the remains of Betsy Ross, the massive cemetery contains multiple mayors and two military burial plots with interments dating to the Civil War. The cemetery beckons exploration and, despite nature's reclamation of its opulent graves, there are miles of paths to wander through.

The grounds are maintained by Friends of Mount Moriah, who welcome and appreciate visitors exploring its treasures by bike on paved and unpaved trails. After exploring the grounds and contemplating the decline and rebirth of the cemetery and the city itself, we jumped back on Cobbs Creek to finish our journey to Heinz.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is a tidal salt marsh adjacent to I-95 and the airport. It's teeming with wildlife and allows bikes on what amounts to a 6 mile gravel loop. After stopping at the visitor center to fill up our water, we took a lap while chasing yellow warblers, awing at gigantic swans, and squinting at distant turtles.

Belmont and Wissahickon are close to so many and never get old. But next time you head out for a mixed-terrain ride, consider riding these jewels in Southwest Philly instead. Study or download the map below to make your own loop from Clark Park to Mount Moriah and Heinz. You won't regret it.

Gabe Markowitz @gmarky Strava
Adam Rahman @accidentally_adam Strava