The 10 Best Hikes In Philadelphia10 February, 2022by Bounce
History lovers flock to Philadelphia from all over the country. The City of Brotherly Love goes back to the very origins of the United States as a nation, and the city played an outsized role in the revolution that forged the country. But that's not all Philadelphia has to offer. It's also a large, diverse, and vibrant city, home to amazing restaurants - including some of the best places to get brunch - incredible museums, and fantastic cultural attractions.
No matter what you're into, Philly has a lot to offer. But what often gets forgotten with a city of this size is all the outdoor adventures that are possible here. Philadelphia may be one of the top cities in the United States, but there are also tons of hiking trails in and around the city that are well worth exploring. If you're looking to go hiking near Philadelphia, you've come to the right place. All you need to do is drop off your heavy bags at a Bounce luggage storage and put on your hiking boots, and you'll be ready to enjoy nature in and around the city. Whether it's an urban refuge you're looking for or a challenging hike along some of the best hiking trails in the state, you'll find it here.
Our Top Hiking Trail Pics in Philadelphia
Ridley Creek State Park
One of the best things about hiking in Philadelphia is that you don't need to stray far from the city to find some interesting trails. Ridley Creek State Park is just a 30-minute drive from Center City Philadelphia, but it will make you feel like you've traveled far from the city. More than 13 miles of hiking trails wind through the colorful wooded areas nearby, and the terrain is relatively easy, making this a popular option with locals and visitors alike.
Of course, in Philadelphia, history is never far away, so it may not come as a big surprise to learn that this park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park has several old buildings that reveal the Revolutionary War history of the area, such as a 300-year-old farm that's still in operation and an 18th-century mill. The trails in the park vary from the easy Park Loop Trail with 4.4 miles of paved terrain to the moderate Yellow Trail and White Trail, and there's also an equestrian loop for those who prefer to explore on horseback.
Valley Forge Park
Also a 30-minute drive from downtown Philadelphia, Valley Forge Park also offers a chance to mix historic exploration with natural splendor. This park is home to several trails, including the offputtingly-named Mount Misery trail. It's a three-mile trail that will take you through beautiful forests and past atmospheric ruins, allowing you to see a decent portion of what makes Philadelphia so intriguing. If that's not enough hiking for you, the Mount Misery trail links up with the Horseshoe Loop and the Mount Joy trail, so you can really get some miles behind you. In fact, the Horseshoe Trail runs for 140 miles before meeting the legendary Appalachian Trail, so while this park is close to the city, there's really no end to the hiking trails you can explore here.
And if it's history that fascinates you more, the Valley Forge Historic Trail runs alongside revolutionary area log cabins. At 7.7 miles, it's not a short trail, but the flat terrain is mostly paved, making it an easy trip even for relatively inexperienced hikers. There's also the Wissahickon Gorge North Loop, which offers a bit of everything from historic ruins to waterfalls.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
For wildlife fans and birdwatchers visiting Philadelphia, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the place to go. Located in Kempton around an hour and a half from Philadelphia, this protected area is home to bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, and other charismatic bird species. There are many trails that wind through the sanctuary and allow you to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, and the Lookout Trail is possibly the most popular. It will bring you to a rocky overlook where you can take a break and enjoy the view while watching the birds soar over the park. At just under two miles, it's an easy trail that the whole family can enjoy, and the mountain scenery only adds to the experience. For a slightly longer walk, you can also take the Loop Trail, which covers five and a half miles through Hawk Mountain sanctuary.
Ricketts Glen State Park
At around two and a half hours from the city, a visit to Ricketts Glen State Park is a bigger commitment than some of the more urban parks. However, it offers an encounter with nature that makes the trip from the city worthwhile. Check out the Falls Trail to explore a stunning 21 waterfalls spread over seven miles of wooded terrain. The trail is quite steep and slippery in places, so is best suited for intermediate hikers. But locals know it's one of the most scenic spots in the Philadelphia area, and thousands of them make the journey out to this park when the weather allows to enjoy the backcountry scenery. As a result, the trails can be quite crowded in summer, but don't let that put you off. The breathtaking waterfalls and ancient woodlands make it all worthwhile.
Wissahickon Valley Park
If you prefer to stay closer to the city on your visit to Philadelphia, Wissahickon Valley Park is the place to go. Located in North Philadelphia, the 50 miles of trails in this urban park mean you can still experience some solitude even within the city. And while you won't get mountain scenery or rushing rivers, you will get to stretch your legs and enjoy the fresh air while still being close to everything the city offers. Without question, this is one of the best free things to do in Philadelphia , and it's not hard to understand why this park is so beloved by locals. Check out the Wissahickon Creek Gorge Trail which runs along the creek at Forbidden Drive, then loops back around to link up with the Orange Trail. This gravel path makes a great easy hike in the city, while the trails marked Orange, Yellow, and White offer more of a challenge. If you visit this park at the right time, you may even be able to take advantage of guided hikes that will explain more about the history and ecology of the area.
Tohickon Valley Park
Around an hour from downtown Philadelphia, Tohickon Valley Park is home to impressive rock formations that make a journey out here well worthwhile. The High Rocks Trail has two trailheads, one in Tohickon Valley and the other in nearby Ralph Stover State Park. Whichever you choose, you'll reach the High Rocks Vista perched on 200-foot tall cliffs. The cliffs are popular with rock climbers, but if you're not in the mood to take part, it's fascinating to just watch these daredevils tests themselves. Plus, the scenery's stunning, and like so many other local parks, will make you feel like you're a very long way from the city while remaining quite close.
Ralph Stover State Park
Like nearby Tohickon Valley Park, Ralph Stover offers access to the popular High Rocks Trail overlooking Tohickon Creek. This park is smaller than its neighbor, but it packs a lot into a small area. In fact, if you're looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, this is the place to come. As well as rock climbing, this State Park is a great place for white water kayaking on the creek, so while the hikes here are relatively small, the adventure on offer is anything but. Since the parks are relatively small and close together, you can easily visit both and hike from one to the other, letting you see more of Philadelphia even on a relatively short trip.
Schuylkill River Trail
Winding its way through East Fairmount Park, the Schuylkill River Trail is an urban trail that provides some of the best views in all of Philadelphia. Running for 30 miles from Parkerford into downtown Philly, this paved trail is ideal for walking and also makes a great biking trail, so you'll need to stay alert for those on two wheels.
You'll cross bridges over the river and be treated to awe-inspiring views of downtown Philadelphia, but you'll also get to see a more natural side of the city with woodlands and river parks just about everywhere. This trail connects to several others in the area, and the eventual plan is to connect it to the East Coast Greenway running through New York City, up to Maine, and down to Florida. So really, once you start walking on this trail, there's no telling where you may end up. But because it's so close to downtown Philadelphia, it's also a great place to get some exercise while staying close to everything the city has to offer. And it's a trail you can easily reach on public transport, so if you're wondering how to get around Philadelphia to visit some of these hiking trails, this is a perfect place to begin.
Experienced hikers who want to test themselves while in Philadelphia could do a lot worse than explore the Pinnacle Trail. Located in Kempton, this ten-mile trail can be quite strenuous in places as it climbs to the peak of a local hill. But the stunning views from the top make it all worthwhile. Wildlife is also abundant in this area, so it's a good idea to wear bright colors and stick to the designated hiking trails so that hunters know where you are. The rocky terrain offers a great challenge, and the scenic views are some of the best in the state, making this a great trail for avid hikers to take advantage of.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Located close to Philadelphia International Airport, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge was America's first urban nature refuge. Covering over 1000 acres of marshland, the sanctuary offers 10 miles of flat trails through the wetland that are ideal for bird watching. The marsh attracts dozens of species of both local and migrating birds, and you may also encounter mammals like bats, beavers, and raccoons here. Close as it is to a major airport and a big city, this refuge preserves a glimpse of the way Philadelphia was before the city was built here, and is a valuable place to get away from it all and reconnect with the natural world.
Easy Hikes in Philadelphia
The Schuylkill River Trail makes a great easy hike that you don't have to leave the city to experience. The paved and flat terrain makes this trail suitable for the whole family. For a more natural experience, Ridley Creek State Park and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary offer trails that just about anyone can enjoy.
Intermediate Hikes in Philadelphia
For those preferring more of a challenge, the color trails of Wissahickon Valley Park are rugged enough to be challenging without being too much. Rickets Glen State Park also offers a decent challenge that is more than worth it for the incredible natural scenery you'll encounter.
Difficult Hikes in Philadelphia
If you really want to test yourself, head out to Pinnacle Trail. While only ten miles long, the steep climb will get your heart pumping and your legs shaking. But the stunning views from the peak will make it all worthwhile and ensure you get a decent workout on your hiking trip to Philadelphia.