17 Scenic Philly-Area Spots for Fall-Foliage Hikes, Walks and Runs

Do all your leaf-peeping at these local parks, trails and nature preserves within 45 minutes of the city.

Enjoy stunning fall foliage at these Philly-area trails, including ones through Wissahickon Valley Park. / Photograph by Melissa Pang

One of the most anticipated aspects of autumn’s arrival is fall foliage. The leaves turning vibrant red, orange and yellow gets us all a bit more motivated to explore the great outdoors, especially as the air gets crisper and the daylight-window shorter. Plus, did you know Pennsylvania has a longer and more varied fall-foliage season than any other U.S. state? Pretty awesome, if you ask us.

The southeastern region of the Commonwealth is still in its early stages of leaf-peeping season, with an anticipated peak between October 29th through November 4th, depending on where you’re located. (Consult this handy map!) To help you prepare your upcoming jaunt, we’ve rounded up 17 Philly-area spots great for fall-foliage hikes, walks and runs. Enjoy these lovely parks, trails and nature preserves all within a 45-minute drive of Center City.

Ed. Note: It’s too expansive to fit neatly into this guide, but parts of the Schuylkill River Trail often feature amazing fall foliage, too.

Bartram’s Garden

Drive from Center City: 15 minutes

This tree- and plant-filled botanical garden, nestled along the Schuylkill River in West Philly, boasts a number of walking trails that weave through the 45-acre property, taking you through everything from meadows to historic gardens to tidal wetlands — falling leaves always within eyeshot.

Blue Bell Park

Drive from Center City: 30 minutes

This hidden gem for leaf-peeping is on the Germantown side of the Wissahickon Creek. There’s a large grassy field, plus tree-lined trails that’ll lead you to Historic Rittenhouse Town, and eventually to the Wissahickon Bike Trail, Orange Trail, and Forbidden Drive.

Chester Creek Trail

Drive from Center City: 40 minutes

Delaware County’s Chester Creek Trail is sublime in the fall, boasting orange- and yellow-colored leaves throughout. You can enjoy them best while biking, walking or running on the 2.8-mile paved section that runs through Middletown and Aston townships.

Fall foliage along the Chester Creek Trail / Photograph courtesy of Chester Creek Trail website

Delaware Canal Towpath

Drive from Center City: 45 minutes

The towpaths that edge the Delaware River canal (on both the east and west sides of the river) provide a picturesque escape from your usual stomping grounds, especially in the fall. For the easiest access to the trail, park at Washington Crossing State Park, head over the bridge to the west side of the Delaware, and hop onto the canal path. Head north to New Hope, cross over the bridge into Lambertville, and head south. The whole loop is about 15 miles.

Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens

Drive from Center City: 45 minutes

This botanical garden in Devon is great for folks who seek leisurely walks through nature. Take your time strolling along the one-mile-plus paved walkways, stopping to appreciate autumnal colors, seasonal blooms and perennial favorites. Jenkins also hosts community events, like group walks, yoga, fall photography workshops, and more.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

Drive from Center City: 20 minutes

Yes, that park just off I-95 near the airport is totally worth exploring. Believe it or not, there are 10 miles of tree-lined gravel trails that follow the serpentine waterways, as well as boardwalk crossings that take you out over the water. Bonus: You’ll also get some pretty spectacular views of Center City from this Southwest Philly spot.

Fall foliage at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge / Photograph by Donna Higgins via Flickr

Haverford College Nature Trail

Drive from Center City: 35 minutes

This lovely 2.25-mile loop is contained on the campus of Haverford College. Sections of it run through the woods, which makes it a lovely fall foliage-peeping adventure, right in the heart of the Main Line. And because it’s a loop, on both gravel and dirt surfaces, you can take multiple treks around to achieve your desired distance.

Laurel Hill

Drive from Center City: 20 minutes (East location); 25 minutes (West location)

Many people know Laurel Hill for its cemeteries, but it also features two accredited arboretums. When combined, the East and West locations account for 265 acres of horticultural goodness where over 6,000 trees and shrubs shine (especially in the fall!). If you want to really embrace the seasonal colors, go on a fall-foliage guided tour led by Laurel Hill’s arboretum manager on October 22nd and November 5th.

Morris Arboretum

Drive from Center City: 40 minutes

As the official arboretum of the Commonwealth, Morris Arboretum is home to 92 acres of gardens. The Chestnut Hill spot is great for leisurely strolls to appreciate all the seasonal colors.

Pennypack Park

Drive from Center City: 20-30 minutes (There are several park access points throughout the Northeast.)

During the fall, the nine-ish-mile park, which spans from Northeast Philly through parts of Montgomery County, explodes with color. The trails are great for hiking, biking, walking and running, so choose your fancy.

Ridley Creek State Park

Drive from Center City: 35 minutes

Another Delco park that’s worth the excursion, Ridley Creek has 13 miles of wooded and paved trails. Whichever you choose, you’ll get your fill of leaf-peeping, as you ascend and descend the park’s rolling hills. Check out the trail network here.

Ridley Creek State Park during peak fall foliage / Photograph by Flickr user photommo

Tacony Creek Park

Drive from Center City: 20 minutes

This 300-acre park — which is also one of the city’s five watershed parks — in between the Lawncrest and Olney neighborhoods is a nearby option to enjoy a fall leaf-laden walk or run, as there are 3.2 miles of paved trail along the creek.

Tyler Arboretum

Drive from Center City: 40 minutes

There are six hiking trails that at this tree preserve in Media, but the longest, at 7.4 miles, is called the Minshall Trail. It takes you through most of the arboretum’s 650 acres, past the remains of the property’s 200-year-old farm, and across a few creeks. Bonus: Autumnal colors make their grand appearance here.

Tyler State Park

Drive from Center City: 45 minutes

The name of the game here is hills. But you can take your mind off your screaming quads by taking in the beautiful scenery, including the quaint covered bridge and pretty Neshaminy Creek. There are more than 10 miles of paved trails and four miles of gravel trails to explore at this Newtown spot.

Valley Forge National Historic Park

Drive from Center City: 35 minutes

With 3,500 acres, you won’t ever be bored at Valley Forge National Historic Park. Whether you’re running, horseback riding, biking, or exploring historical sites, you’ll be sure to encounter vibrant fall landscapes anywhere you turn.

Enjoy vibrant fall foliage at Valley Forge National Historical Park. / Photograph by Flickr user bobglennan

Wawa Preserve

Drive from Center City: 40 minutes

The 98-acre Wawa Nature Preserve is tucked behind Wawa (yes, that Wawa) headquarters just off Route 1 in Media. The preserve features a mix of grassy meadows and thick woods, with four miles of unpaved trails to explore.

Wissahickon Valley Park

Drive from Center City: 25 minutes

Oh, you beautiful Wissahickon, you. This 1,800-acre park, which you can access from East Falls up to Chestnut Hill, is a year-round favorite of ours — but it really shines in the fall. You can take your pick of over 50 miles of trails, all of which will give you views of falling leaves, but Forbidden Drive’s flat gravel path is probably the easiest on the knees. For more varied terrain, try the Orange, White or Yellow trails.