9 Best Places to Walk and Hike Near Philadelphia

Take in some fresh air and the beautiful colors of fall at these gorgeous hiking and walking spots in the Philadelphia region.

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Manayunk Towpath

What you’ll see: Spend the day enjoying the crisp air, changing leaves, and sunlight reflecting off water as you follow this two-mile path along the Manayunk Canal. Check manayunkcanal.org for a downloadable walking tour brochure, which includes some of the plant and animal highlights of the trek.


Access: The Towpath is accessible from Fairmount Park to the East and from the Schuylkill River Trail to the West, with numerous access points along Manayunk's Main Street.

Forbidden Drive, Fairmount Park

What you'll see: This 5.5-mile, mostly flat, gravel path resides beneath a canopy of trees, all of which turn brilliant hues of yellow, orange, and red throughout October. Two stops worth seeking out: Thomas Mill Road Bridge, the only covered bridge within major city limits, and the secluded hillside Tedyuscung statue.

Access: A paved path connects Forbidden Drive to Ridge Avenue at the confluence of the Wissahickon and Schuylkill River, or you can hop on its midpoint at the Valley Green Inn (Valley Green Road at Wissahickon. Valley Green Road can be reached from Chestnut Hill's Springfield Avenue, two blocks west of the St. Martin's R-8 Station.)

Peace Valley Nature Center

What you'll see: Spend an half hour hiking beneath a beautiful canopy of trees on the Upper Woods Trail, enjoy a longer two hour walk around Lake Galena which also loops through the woods, or take a break from falling leaves and head for Evergreen Trail, which takes you through a beautiful White Pine grove.

Access: Park at the Nature center parking lot at 170 North Chapman Road, Doylestown.

Valley Forge National Park

What you'll see: Whether you take the six-mile paved path of the Joseph Plumb Martin trail or off-road it on Mount Joy or Mount Misery, you'll be treated to a vibrant show of ash, cherry, dogwood, maple, sycamore, oak and walnut trees.

Access: Find the head in the parking lot across the Knox Library on Yellow Springs Road, Valley Forge Park.

Lehigh Gorge Trail

What you'll see: At their peak, the leaves of maple, birch, aspen, and dogwood trees brighten the 20-mile trail, which follows alongside abandoned railroad tracks and the Lehigh Valley River.

Access: Beginning in Jim Thorpe, the trail follows the railroad north for 20 miles. Parking areas are provided in White Haven, Rockport and Glen Onoko.

Pennypack Creek Trail

What you'll see: You'll peep the changing colors of sycamores, maples, hickories, and oaks along this 13-mile trail, which takes you along the Pennypack Creek all the way to the Delaware River and through gently rolling hills and bubbling brooks. Throughout September and October, you'll also glimpse migrating Monarch butterflies and deer along the Pennypack Creek.

Access: The parking lot off of Pine Road (232 South onto Moreland Road; exit right at Pine Road; 1 mile left into parking lot) is a favorite starting place, but there is also the Torresdale Avenue entrance across the street from the now-closed Holmesburg prison.

Perkiomen Trail

What you'll see: Boasting spectacular fall colors like the reds and oranges of maples, yellows of poplars and hickories, and many magnificent large oaks, the Northern section of the Perkiomen Trail runs 10 miles from Schwenksville to Green Lane Park. Kids will love spotting deer, as well as the occasional red fox, Great Blue Heron, or the rarely spotted mink.

Access: There are numerous access points along the way, but the official start is at the Green Lane Park trailhead (with a parking lot at Snyder & Deep Creek Roads) and ends at the Pawlings Road Trailhead, near the Schuylkill River Trail.

The Wissahickon Green Ribbon Trail

What you'll see: The changing leaves of large sycamores, hackberrys, box elders, and ash trees give color to this quiet three-mile trail running beside the Wissahickon Creek. Along the creek you may also see Wood Ducks, Great Blue Heron, and at the beginning of the trail you can climb the Hawk Watching Tower to scan the skies for migrating raptors that are often seen in September and October.

Access: Valley Green Road, Wissahickon. The trail starts in Manayunk, where the Schuylkill River meets Wissahickon Creek and runs to the Upper Gwynedd Township in Montgomery County. Though there are many access points along the way, the only designated parking is at the Fairmount Park trailhead in Chestnut Hill and at the Fort Washington Park in Whitemarsh Township. The lower section can be accessed below the parking area of the State Park's Militia Hill Day Use Area.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

What you'll see: This Kempton, Pennsylvania, mountain—about a 90-minute trek from Center City—is the place to see migrating birds in the fall, including eagles, hawks, falcons and more. The Lookout Trail is a straight shot from the parking lot and an easy walk to several lookout points for families or anyone wishing simply to sit and take in the beauty. The more strenuous River of Rocks trail is a four-mile loop that has you traversing rocky ascents and descents, including a 1.2-mile boulder field.

Access: Park at the visitor's center (1700 Hawk Mountain Road, Kempton, PA 19529) to access all trails. Note: There is a fee to get into the sanctuary, which varies depending on when you visit.

>> Where do you like to hike in our area? Share your tips in the comments.

  • Lisa Dreyer

    Ridley Creek State Park?