DIY Tour Rail Park Philadelphia
January 17, 2018 5:42 PM   Subscribe

Hello, how do I do a DIY tour of the Rail Park in Philadelphia? I've not been in town for the organized tours. Three miles of rough urban hiking and exploration is enticing. Where to start? What to see? Where to get a drink and lunch along the way?
posted by jointhedance to Travel & Transportation around Philadelphia, PA (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So, the rail park isn't open yet -- the first quarter mile should open this year, but I don't even know if there's a date set for that. The full three miles is years away.

If you want to come to Philly anyway, we have a gigantic in-city park. I can also speak to how awesome it is to roam Bartram's Garden, the Woodlands, and the other in-city gardens and (sort of) wild spaces.
posted by kalimac at 5:59 PM on January 17, 2018

If you want to explore the Rail Park right now, it's a very rough un-remediated, overgrown path and while you will be technically trespassing, plenty of people have done it. The most accessible area is the tunnels at the west end (I believe where most of the photographers start), but that leads to Fairmount Park and there won't be any lunch/drink options.

If you are planning on exploring as-is, you'll want to exit around 13th street where it comes to surface level (this is also Phase I, where they are working right now). There aren't a ton of food/bev options right around there, which is part of the argument for the park [it connects a lot of neighborhoods].

Cafe Lift is a pretty decent brunch option. You could head also east to the newly moved/re-opened Yards brewery [20 delicious beers on tap, so-so "fancy" bar food options]. Or if you come in the spring, I imagine the pop-up beer garden that benefits the Rail Park project will be open again this year.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:44 PM on January 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I walked it late last summer with some friends. It was not easy and I recommend long pants and hiking boots at least ankle high - you would not believe the variety of critters we saw and it's a birders delight. Take the latest map of the project and don't go alone. The phase 1 part should be a little easier now.
posted by james33 at 5:30 AM on January 18, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks for the info.

Although I want to hike the Rail Park before it's improved, I didn't know part of it is in a tunnel. I thought the right of way was either at grade or elevated like the High Line in New York. It looks like the tunnel runs under Museum Mile.

Here's a separate site for the Viaduct Rail Park, which is the right side of the Rail Park ROW wishbone. ???

I haven't found trip reports that are more than superficial so I'll keep digging for info. At the least I'm going to need a headlamp, flashlight and hiking buddy.

I got to hike part of the High Line before it was improved and now I want to see the Rail Park "before".
posted by jointhedance at 6:26 AM on January 18, 2018

Response by poster: james33, is your "don't go alone" warning because of maybe dangerous people or because it's an isolated place to break an ankle?
posted by jointhedance at 11:24 AM on January 18, 2018

There's a "contact us" button on the rail park website - the one you linked to in your post. I think there's an excellent chance you could be part of an organized supporter's tour, which I believe are offered occasionally, especially if you decided to become a supporter. There used to be places to breach the fence and squeeze onto the elevated rail, but I think many of them have been secured since work began around 13th St. and interest in the park was piqued. I would not venture into the tunnels alone.
posted by citygirl at 3:16 PM on January 18, 2018

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