Fall foliage at Black Run Preserve | Photo by Lori Litchman
The leaves are already starting to turn from bright green to hues of orange, red and purple. To some (read: me), this signals an end to all things good: no-layers-necessary clothing weather; rooftop bar season; evening walks with ice cream in hand. And to some, it signals the beginning of all things good: the layers! Cozy drinks by fireside! The season when ordering a pumpkin spice latte is socially acceptable!
Regardless of which camp you land in, there is one thing we can all agree on: This time that falls between the dog days of summer and the colder days of fall is a darn pretty one. Those leaves, man. And we suggest you soak up as many of the changing leaves as possible with these five hikes chock-full of fall foliage, as chosen by the woman who wrote the book (quite literally) on hiking in Philadelphia, Lori Litchman, the author of the recently released and SUPER useful 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Philadelphia.
We asked Litchman to spill on her top five Philly-area hikes to see fall foliage. Check them out below, then make your weekend plans accordingly.
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• Face it: You’ve probably never followed through on a New Year’s resolution. Don’t worry, I am not here to judge. The only resolution I’ve ever kept was to up my documentary-watching game (thanks, Netflix). But if you’re looking to finally conquer your resolutions this year, for once, remembering the 20-second rule — a rule that aims to help you tackle goals, while submitting to the fact that you are a little bit lazy — will help. [Science of Us]
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I hate winter. I hate winter so much, in fact, that I fled from the east coast to Arizona the minute I turned 18, just for the promise of sweater-clad December days. (Choosing your college based on your weather preferences is an awful idea, by the way.) My aversion to temperatures below 45 degrees makes my relationship with fall complicated. The brisk temperatures of fall signal impending doom to me. That said, it is the prettiest darn impending doom there is, what with orange, red and yellow leaves and sweater-weather that is perfect for running, walking or hiking through them.
So to help you soak up the changing leaves of the season before the branches are bare and your hibernation mode kicks in (just us?), we’ve rounded up 10 beautiful running and walking spots (aside from Fairmount Park, because we’re sure you’re already hip to that gem) where you can get up close and personal with the region’s gorgeous fall foliage. We say you make it a goal to check off as many of these as you can over the next few weeks.
Ready, set, go!
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The playground is fun and all, but going for long walks — in nature — is something that benefits everyone in the family. Babies can nap, kids can get some old-fashioned outdoor time, parents can get in some exercise. And ya know what? You don’t have to be a “hiker” or know how to cook beans over a campfire to enjoy the local trails. (You can even wear your skinny jeans if you want.) Here are eight great spots close to Philly that are worthy of the trip.
What: The Schuylkill Center in Roxborough is the largest privately owned tract of land in Philadelphia, and its entire raison d’etre is to connect people with nature. There are 340 acres of trees, streams, and fields, and three miles of totally doable hiking trails.
Why it’s great for kids: There’s an actual “center” here, which has a strong, kid-focused educational mission. That means a nature preschool, summer camps and solid weekend programming, including exhibits, hikes and activities. The trails will loop you through wooden bridges, ponds, and play areas. Picnics are allowed. Read more »
Hawk Falls at Hickory Run State Park | Photo by Flickr user lousyfocus
We survived another winter, Philly. Now that the thaw-out is officially setting in, it’s time to shed some layers, head outdoors and hit the trails.
“There are two things I look for in a hike: vistas and waterfalls,” says Carl Ewald, the original founder of TerraMar Adventures, a local club for outdoor enthusiasts, and author of a forthcoming hiking guide for our area. “We’ve got plenty of both right in our backyard.”
If you’re looking for hiking intel that goes beyond the Wissahickon, you’re in luck: We got Ewald to share his spots for a springtime hike near Philadelphia—some with bubbling waterfalls, some with sweeping views, and some with both. Fresh air is a given. Read more »
The Wissahickon is to my hiking life as Sweetgreen is to my work-lunch life: It’s great and it’s my go-to because it’s great. But, like I fear I’ll Sweetgreen myself out because I go there more than anyone with 7,839 lunch options within a block of their office should, I am often afraid that I will someday Wissahickon myself out. After all, one can only hike past Devil’s Pool so many times before they stop thinking it’s beautiful and cool and start wondering instead why (oh, whyyyyy) anyone with a brain would willingly jump into that oh-so-gross water, right? And that’s where the new online Philly hiking resource Philly Day Hiker comes in. Read more »
Fairmount Park | Photo via Fairmount Park Conservancy
Remember back when Emily, our fearless Be Well Philly leader, rappelled down 31 stories in the middle of Center City one weekday afternoon? Yes: 31 stories. Well, she did it for the experience, but the other 100 folks making their way down the building like Spiderman did it to raise money for Outward Bound. And when Emily chatted with the folks from Outward Bound about what they had coming coming down the pike, they mentioned the awesome Discovery Center — complete with an out-of-this-world high ropes course — they were at the tail-end of fundraising upward of $16 million for, to be built in the East Park section of Fairmount Park, by Strawberry Mansion.
And now fundraising is done, and it isn’t just the students of Outward Bound who will benefit: Mayor Nutter announced the plans to build the education-based Discovery Center, a partnership between Outward Bound and the Audubon Society, yesterday, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. And once the Discovery Center is completed, hopefully by the summer of 2017, Philly residents, along with students getting their outdoor education on at the center, will have access to 50 acres of land that’s been fenced off since 1970, including trails (hey, runners!) and a giant reservoir-turned-lake surrounded by wildlife and migratory birds. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Read more »
We know what you’ll be doing this weekend: A whole lot of hiking. Pennsylvania Hiking Week kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, May 30th and runs through Sunday, June 7th. And, to celebrate, there are nearly 100 group hikes planned across the state throughout the week — so bust out your sneakers, people!
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