Hiking Near Philadelphia: Trails to Check Out

It’s fall, the leaves are changing color, and the heat and humidity of summer have finally melted away. There’s no better season for checking out the numerous hiking trails in and around Philadelphia. Here are just a few worth exploring.

One of the great perks of living in Philadelphia is that the area is full of great nature and hiking trails. If you’re interested in hiking near Philadelphia, you don’t have to go far to find a scenic trail. Several are located inside city limits, while many more can be found just outside of the city.

Forbidden Drive

You can think of Forbidden Drive as a beginner’s trail, perfect for people just starting to explore hiking near Philadelphia. Although the trail’s name makes it seem a little naughty or a little scary, it’s just called “forbidden” because cars can’t drive on it. Only hikers, runners, cyclists, and horses are allowed on the gravel trail. Forbidden Drive is just over five miles long, and the trail is about 25 feet wide and is mostly flat.

Forbidden Drive is just one of several trails that run through Wissahickon Valley Park. Once you’ve got the hiking thing down, you can explore some of the other trails in the park, which tend to be steeper or have more uneven terrain. The more elevated trails also offer a great view of the rest of the park and of the surrounding Wissahickon Gorge.

Pennypack Creek Trails

Pennypack Park is in the northeast part of Philadelphia and stretches beyond the city limits too. It has several trails, which vary in distance and in difficulty. In Philadelphia, the trails are either designed for hiking only or for varied use. Varied use trails include the Creek Road Trail, which is a 1.4 mile gravel route that has views of the creek. Pennypack Creek Trail is a dirt route that’s 0.6 miles long. Hiking only trails include the 0.9 mile Bethayres Woods Trail, which is a loop through wetlands and mature woodlands. It’s not connected to any of the other trails in the system.

Just outside of Philly, in Montgomery County, is the Pennypack Trail, a 5.4 mile trail that runs along an old, unused railway line. It is open to cyclists, hikers, and to pets on a leash.

Green Ribbon Trail

The Green Ribbon Trail stretches for 12.6 miles, from Upper Gwynedd Township to Whitemarsh. It runs along the Wissahickon Creek. The very scenic trail gives you a chance to see a variety of wildlife and plant life, including several threatened or nearly threatened species. For example, both butternut trees and dodder, two nearly threatened plant species, are found on the trail. The trail also crosses or connects with a variety of parks and natural areas, including Fort Washington State Park, Penlynn Woods, and Four Mills Nature Reserve.

Manayunk Canal Towpath

The Manayunk Towpath is a short part of the much longer Schuylkill River Trail. Although some people walk, run, or bike right over it on their way up to Valley Forge from Philly or on their way back to Philly, the Towpath offers plenty of scenery and a bit of information about the Manayunk area and is worth a visit on its own. The towpath runs alongside the Manayunk Canal and the Schuylkill River, so it offers plenty of great views. There are also a number of signs along the route, which provide details about the industrial history of the neighborhood and they give information about how the canal was used in the past.

You don’t have to go very far to enjoy a day of hiking near Philadelphia. In some cases, a great hiking trail might be pretty much in your own backyard.


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