Get Outdoors! 5 Day-Trip Destinations to Let Out Your Inner Wild Thing

Plus: where to buy (or rent!) the right gear.

Kayaking along the Oswego River in Wharton State Forest

Kayaking along the Oswego River in Wharton State Forest

If you’re looking to escape the city — even for just a few hours — check out these outdoor adventures just a short drive from Center City. 

For drifting downriver: Canoeing at Wharton State Forest in Hammonton
Explore New Jersey’s protected Pine Barrens via the waterways that meander through cedar, pine and oak forests. You can rent gear at local outfitter Micks Pine Barrens (3107 County Road 563, Chatsworth); rentals include transportation to and from the river.

For a straight-up ascent: Rock climbing at Ralph Stover State Park in Pipersville
Tackle the High Rocks, a 200-foot sheer rock face with dozens of top-roping and trad-climbing routes to keep you busy. If you want some guidance, Philadelphia Rock Gyms (locations in East Falls, Oaks and Valley Township) lead half-day all-equipment-provided outings where staffers work the ropes so you can climb worry-free.

For fun on two wheels: Mountain biking at Blue Marsh Lake in Reading
The 90-minute drive from Center City to this trail near Reading is worth it: The 20.8-mile loop circles the lake and includes stream crossings and lots of steep, short climbs — and fast, fun downhills. You won’t get bored by the scenery, either: Trail segments run through fields and woods and along the water.

For getting lost in the woods: Hiking at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton
This mountain in Kempton is the place to see migrating birds in the fall, including eagles, hawks, falcons and more. The easy Lookout Trail is perfect 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 features rocky ascents and descents, including a 1.2-mile boulder field.

For channeling your inner cowboy: Horseback riding in the Poconos
The low-key trail rides at Cresco, PA’s Mountain Creek Riding Stables are perfect for first-timers. The 45-minute outings take you along a thickly wooded trail with a stream crossing. Bonus: It’s not uncommon to spy wildlife, including deer and wild turkeys.

Where to Outfit Your Next Adventure

Need some gear before you set off? Here are our go-to spots. — by Jessi Silverman 

Trove General Store (Paoli)
Best for: Hiking in style.

Trove sits several notches up the chic scale from your traditional general store. With its emphasis on quality, the Paoli store will get you outdoors in timeless styles that are as durable as they are fashionable (think: vintage Levi’s jackets and wide-brimmed felt hats). They don’t stop at flannels and boots, either — they carry an assortment of locally made soaps and lotions along with hiking accessories, and the well-stocked book selection is sure to fuel your wanderlust.

Fireside Camp Supply (Grad Hospital)
Best for: Rentals.

For first-time and frequent campers alike, Fireside is the place to go when you want to get off the radar. Whether you’ll be pitching a tent in the Poconos or the Pine Barrens, the knowledgeable staff at this shop will help you plan your packing list and rent you must-haves like tents, sleeping pads and stoves. If you’re more in the mood for a staycation, enjoy free s’mores around a campfire in the Center City shop every first Friday of the month.

Trail Creek Outfitters (Glen Mills)
Best for: Pro-quality gear.

Trail Creek is the spot for all the outdoor gear on your shopping list, with tried-and-true clothing brands like Patagonia and North Face and a huge selection of apparel, footwear and outdoorsy equipment that satisfies runners, hikers, campers and yogis. Whatever your niche need — sun protection, bug protection, moisture-wicking gear — you’ll find it here.

This article first appeared in the 2015 Be Well Philly print magazine. To get a free copy for yourself, go here.

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