Reporting Jay Lloyd
We’ve all heard of a pub crawl, but what about a pub peddle?
It’s getting to be the rage, as bicyclists take to the Perkiomen trail in the heart of Montgomery County and peddle through towns and villages that offer a number of pubs and inns. Meet friends, make one or two stops and then bike back to a convenient parking lot, load the wheels and head home. The section between Spring Mountain and Port Providence on the Schuylkill Canal is rich in convenient watering holes. Here are some with my own elbow prints in the mahogany. – Jay Lloyd
The newly renovated Woodside Lodge is a gem of a bar, restaurant, lounge and inn where they serve up Kona beer from Hawaii on tap, kick off evenings with country line dancing and build deliciously juicy half-price burgers. It’s right across the road from the back slope of Spring Mountain and is owned and operated by the outdoors-oriented Buckman family. In other words, it’s a magnet for cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts. Just a short jog off the Perkiomen Trail on a country road north of Schwenksville, it’s an ideal late afternoon stop after peddling down from Green Lane or north from Collegeville. The bar and restaurant opens at 4 p.m.
The Perkiomen View Hotel, which is really just a country bar, has been around as long as anybody still alive can remember. Located just north of the trail parking lot at Graterford, the locals who populate the place probably never dreamed about seeing bicycle riding city folks stopping by for an afternoon beer, but here they are. The back room has a great view of the Perkiomen, and it’s a welcoming spot for a brew or soda. If you’re a smoker, it’s about the only place on the route where you can light up indoors without getting flagged. And if you’re hungry after all that peddling, there are sandwiches available…though if you’re looking for a knife and fork meal, you might want to keep peddling.
Collegeville is just a few miles south of this spot, and a trio of pubs straddles the trail, offering plenty of parking for bikes and cars. It’s an ideal central location to start or finish a Perkiomen peddle.
This is a microbrewery and pub with an impressive menu and beer list. The Perkiomen Trail passes right by the front door, and there’s ample parking at the nearby trail lot and in the pub complex for bikes and cars. This is an ideal lunch stop for groaning board pub fare or a full meal. My own favorites here are the dynamite fish and chips washed down by Appalachian’s own Mountain Lager. The long bar pulls together a friendly sports-oriented crowd with flat screen TV’s that flash the day’s top games, along with soccer and golf.
Right across the street and hugging the Perkiomen Trail, you’ll find the compact My Friends Tavern. There’s a popular dining room and intimate bar, where everyone seems to know everyone else. A little bit of New Orleans, a little Italian and a big local reputation for prime rib. This is a good rendezvous stop during a day on the trail, as there are popular beers on tap and plenty of finger food to fuel the next leg of the ride.
Da Vinci’s has multiple personalities. It’s a classic Italian restaurant separated from a popular happy hour and sports bar that morphs into a music and entertainment venue as the night grows later. Stop anytime between 11 a.m. and closing and you can recharge a ride with a perfectly done filet, traditional Italian red gravy dishes or pub grub ranging from fried calamari to chicken spring rolls. My own favorite is their spaghetti and meatballs, while my wife heads for the eggplant spinach rolletinni. You’d better have saddle bags or a basket with a cooler, too: Few can eat it all at one sitting!
It’s about 5.5 miles from Collegeville along the Perkiomen Trail to a section called the Schuylkill River Trail. Here, you’ll find a watering hole and eatery rich in local lore, history and custom. Fitzwater Station goes back to the days when barges plied the Schuylkill Canal and the rugged crews that ran them stopped off here for pint or two. Now, you can peddle up and paddle away in a rented kayak or canoe for an hour or so on the canal and river. Then, come back and sip a cool brew on an outdoor deck and munch some shrimp or park for a full meal. Finally, climb back in the saddle and head off toward Valley Forge Park.
TIPS FOR THE TRAIL: Carry sunscreen and bug repellent. Don’t forget the hat and water bottle either. You may be sharing the trail with horses, so be careful not to startle them. There will also be walkers and joggers–stay alert. Then there’s the obvious: when going from pub to pub, don’t overdo it. Save some for another day!
And for comprehensive information and a map of the Perkiomen Trail, click here.