Ben Franklin Bridge Walk – Camden, Camden County, NJ to Philadelphia, PA
Distance – about 1.5 miles one way
Type – Out-and-back
Difficulty: 3 of 10 (steepest trail for miles around, sun and wind can be an issue)
NOTE: The South Side walkway is closed until Spring of 2019 for renovations. We’ll include information for it here, but it won’t be actually usable until then. The North Side walkway is open, and that’s the one that we used.
Website – http://www.drpa.org/bridges/ben-franklin-walkway.asp
Open – open daily from 6 a.m – 8 p.m. October 1 – April 30 and 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. May 1 – September 30.
Terrain – Paved and metal
Surface -open daily from 6 a.m – 8 p.m. October 1 – April 30 and 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. May 1 – September 30
North 4th Street and Fulton Place – 39°57’0.83″N, 75° 7’15.26″W
OR Pearl Street between North 3rd and North 5th – 39°56’59.94″N, 75° 7’16.00″W
Philadelphia – 39°57’19.45″N, 75° 8’51.49″W
5th and Race (Philadelphia)
Directions – Entrances in Camden are located at 4th and Fulton Place (north side of bridge) or 4th and Pearl (south side of bridge). The two sides are connected by a pedestrian tunnel. Entrances in Camden are located directly across from Franklin Square (5th and Race Streets).
Parking – We used street parking on the New Jersey side on 3rd Street by the intersection of Pearl Street in Camden. The meters here take cards and (as of June 2018) cost 25 cents for every 15 minutes. The added bonus is that this is part of the Rutgers Camden campus, so this area is heavily patroled if you are worried about your car. Do NOT park in any of the Rutgers Camden Parking lots unless you are a registered student there with a parking pass. There is free parking on the north side of the bridge, but park at your own risk.
Dog friendly? I didn’t see any dogs, but they aren’t listed as being banned on the rules
Stroller friendly? Yes, saw lots of strollers out
Benches? Few places to sit along the bridge.
Facilities?: None. Closest public bathrooms that we know of in Philly are at Independence National Historic Park (we walked up there to use them)
As of June 3rd, my lovely wife and I had been married for SEVEN YEARS. She should have gotten rid of me when she had the chance, but since she did not, I surprised her with something that she’d wanted to do for a long time – walk the Ben Franklin Bridge. So we grabbed The Pres, Tree Rider, and Kite Flyer and took off.
Parking in Camden took a bit to figure out (remember, I do the hard work and write it here to make your life easier!) before settling on metered parking on 3rd Street on the Rutgers Campus that took a debit card (we didn’t have enough quarters in the car for the meters that took coins only).
We then walked down Pearl Street to the underpass, went under the bridge. and turned left and climbed the steps onto the bridge.
The Ben Franklin Bridge is one of those things that is just part of the scenery of those folks who grew up around Philadelphia, but when you take a close look, it’s really, really impressive. It was started in 1922 and dedicated in 1926 (although it was originally known as the Delaware River Bridge). As a little girl, my grandmother could see them building the bridge from the window of her classroom. Once they put the towers up with the wires (but before building the platform for the road), she and her classmates swore they’d never go on that bridge, because it would be too scary to go up those wires to the tops of those tall towers. Luckily for that school class, they built a roadway too (my grandmother must have broken her vow, because she moved to Camden just over a decade later). For a few years after its dedication, the span between the two towers was the longest of any suspension bridge on Earth.
Once you’re on the bridge, the first part of the walk isn’t very pleasant. The first stretch of walkway is very narrow, is right up against the traffic, and is very loud.
But you soon climb above the traffic, the walkway widens out, and the views kick in. This is now a very pleasant walk (unless you are terrified of heights like me, which makes it slightly less pleasant, but still pretty awesome).
After a it, you’ll come up on the first set of stone bridge towers. You can sit down for a rest here, or climb up the short set of steps for a great view.
You’ll then keep walking, now well above the traffic, until you reach the first of the two gigantic towers that support this bridge. These towers are 380 feet tall, and you can really get a feel for their height when standing on the walkway (which, remember, is itself very high above the river).
From here, you’ll continue on to the second tower, finishing the uphill part of the trip midway between, yay! After the second tower, you’ll really start to notice the downhill.
The second tower is over the marina by Dave and Busters, so you are now right on the edge of the Philadelphia waterfront. Your walk downhill to Franklin Square will now take you through the part of Philadelphia that was first settled under William Penn, although there are not many remains of this thanks to the construction of I-95 (If you’re interested in what once was there, Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront by Harry Kyriakodis (2011) is a great read). Enjoy the views of historic St Augustine Catholic Church and St Georges United Methodist Church on the way down!
You’ll exit just across from Franklin Square and that bizarre (but beloved) modern art sculpture of the key and the kite. You survived! I mean, you made it!
Now that you are in Philadelphia, you can either a) turn around right away or b) go exploring. Us being us, we went exploring.
Alright, enough pictures of Philadelphia. It was time to go back. The South Walkway still being closed for another year, we took the North Walkway back. The walk doesn’t change much the way back, except that you are now looking out at Camden.
After we climbed down the stairs into Camden, we realized that we were REALLY close to going seven miles for our 7th anniversary. So we took a short detour to visit the Walt Whitman statue on the Rutgers campus before heading back to the car.
7 miles = new record for distance for Tree Rider! Happy anniversary Alix!
Beautiful view of two cities and the Delaware. Interesting architecture.
Sun and wind can be problems. Bridge closed during high winds or snow or threat of snow.