Outdoor Activity in Philly: Mountain Biking
Wissahickon Creek Trail, Philadelphia: Valley Green Inn, West Valley Green Road
Yes, it’s an “in-town” path, but you’ll never know it once you set out on the Wiss’s 50-mile web of trails. Located at the north end of Fairmount Park, the trail system winds through 1,800 lush acres along the Wissahickon Creek watershed and offers exhilarating single-track rides that veer between technical and fast. (In fact, you need a permit for certain trails.) For daredevils, the Bowl area has been built up with jumps so you can work in some mid-trail tricks; for everyone else, the path’s gentle slopes provide just-tough-enough terrain. Join one of the Philadelphia Mountain Biking Association’s weekly rides for a “grand tour” of the most scenic—and most challenging—spots along the way.
Go here for: One of the best urban mountain-biking trails in the country.
Outdoor Activity in Philly: Hiking
Loyalsock Trail, Williamsport: Pa Route 87, 8.6 miles north of I-180
Its 59 miles of sharp inclines, steep pitches and rugged peaks aren’t for the amateur hiker—or the faint of heart. But if you can brave the wilderness of the point-to-point footpath (and the schlep just to get there—three and a half hours from the city), the scenery—mountain streams! waterfalls!—is more than worth the trouble. Wending its way along Loyalsock Creek, the trail snakes from Wyoming County to the Susquehanna River in Montoursville. Ideally you’d allot four to seven days to take it all in and explore some of the less-traveled paths. All of the trails are maintained by the Alpine Club of Williamsport, so it’s safe to venture off the main drag. Just beware of briars.
Go here for: The best hiking in the entire state.
Outdoor Activity in Philly: Rock Climbing
Ralph Stover State Park, Pipersville: 5998 State Park Road
This one-with-nature activity is best pursued in September’s cool temps. (Trust us: Gripping scalding rock isn’t fun.) The High Rocks formation (200 vertical feet of sheer rock face) in this sprawling state park is accommodating to new climbers: Philadelphia Rock Gyms provide educational tours here two Saturday mornings a month through October; zero experience required.
Go here for: The view from the top.
Outdoor Activity in Philly: Horseback Riding
Gateway Stables, Kennett Square: 949 Merrybell Lane
You can take formal lessons in English or Western riding styles here, but it’s the recreational riding that’s most worth saddling up for. After a painless “Riding 101” session (during which you learn very important things like, oh, starting, stopping and steering), a friendly guide leads you on an hour-long trail ride that feels less kiddie-party and more freewheeling-in-the-open-fields. (Bonus: No post-ride stable cleanup.)
Go here for: An unfussy equestrian experience.