Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hiking East Fairmount Park: Brewerytown-Mansion Boxers Trail Loop

The East Fairmount Park Brewerytown-Mansion Boxers Trail Loop is the kind of trail that gives you just the right amount of daily cardio exercise. It provides for a variable-grade walking workout that's pretty flexible.

Basically, this hike first follows the full length of the Boxers Trail, from John Coltraine's home in the Mansion-Brewerytown Blurlands to the front door of Strawberry Mansion. Then it continues down some 125 steps to the burm of Kelly Drive, at the 2.5-mile point of The Box of the famed Schuylkill River Trail.

Setting sun filters onto the Strawberry Mansion Steps along Boxers Trail
Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you hop across traffic Frogger-style to take the SRT's busy bike lanes for the return trip to the trailhead! Instead, turn around at the base of Strawberry Mansion Steps, climb them back up - take a breather! - and return to Coltraine's house via 33rd Street.

Walk briskly the full four miles and you'll finish in an hour or so. This hike is really flexible! Do the Strawberry Mansion Steps down to the Schuylkill on days you want to push it; skip them on days you don't. You could even take the 32 bus along 33rd Street for the last mile on the days three miles will do you.

Just so you know, this hike is about three-quarters paved trail and one-quarter crushed rock and packed dirt. Take at least a liter of water to stay hydrated on your hike. Expect to see wildlife if you try walking like the Lenape and with a Leave No Trace Ethic. Deer, birds, chipmunks, squirrels, mice, and insects have all been part of this trail lover's experience along the Boxers Trail.

The real value in the Brewerytown-Mansion Boxers Trail Loop is that it's a place where nearby Philadelphia neighbors can access a defined yet flexible fitness loop that's close to home and public-transit accessible. If you're looking for something more in the style of reclaimed woodland majesty for your daily or weekly hike, choose equally accessible trailheads elsewhere in Fairmount Park trail, or find a trail that winds through the nearby Wissahickon Gorge.

NOTE: Hey runners, check out the Boxers Trail 5K in September.