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

Soak up stunning vistas during a walk or hike at these local spots, all within 45 minutes of the city.

fall foliage hikes

Here’s proof that you could spend a lifetime soaking up the fall foliage hikes at Tyler State Park. / Photograph via Flickr user Andy Thrasher

It’s no secret that the colder temperatures fall brings make getting out of your warm beds for morning workouts a whole lot harder. And the whole dark-as-soon-as-you-get-up thing doesn’t make keeping up your fitness routine very easy either. That said, a good motivation is the gorgeous views of fall foliage that seem to make every chilly (or even rainy!) run, walk, or hike utterly worth it.

Below, you’ll find 10 Philly-area spots boasting fall foliage hikes, walks, and trail runs galore for those days when you need some serious visual stimulation to make your exercise happen—or just need to get out the house. Keep in mind, some of these areas have restricted access times or closed restrooms to promote safety during COVID-19, so double check before your visit. Enjoy these lovely, walkable spots are all within 45 minutes of Center City.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum

fall foliage hikes

A snapshot of the fall foliage hikes you’ll get at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Photograph via Flickr user Jim, the Photographer.

Drive from Philly: 25 minutes

Yes, that park just off I-95 near the airport is totally worth exploring. Believe it or not, there are ten 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 even get some pretty spectacular views of Center City from this Southwest Philly spot.

Tyler Arboretum

Drive from Philly: About 40 minutes

There are six trails at this tree preserve in Delco, 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. To extend your run or walk, you can connect with any of the other well-marked trails in the property. Note: It’s $15 to get into the arboretum.

Delaware Canal Towpath

Drive from Philly: About 40 minutes

The towpaths that edge the Delaware River canal (on both the east and west sides of the river) are 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.

Pennypack Park

Pennypack Park (and its MontCo extension) is chock full of fall foliage hikes. Photograph via Flickr user Tom Ipri.

Drive from Philly: 20 minutes (However, the park is so large that it depends on which entrance you go into.)

This is probably one of those Philly parks you’ve been meaning to get to forever, but just haven’t yet made the trek. During the fall, the nine-ish-mile trail along the creek is exploding with color. You can extend your run by heading north (note: it’s hillier this way) along the Pennypack Trail rail-trail extension into Montgomery County.

Ridley Creek State Park

Drive from Philly: About 40 minutes

Another Delco park that’s worth the excursion, this one has 13 miles of wooded trails hiking trails, as well as a paved, five-mile walking and biking path. 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.

Wissahickon Valley Park

Drive from Philly: 25 minutes

Oh, you beautiful Wissahickon, you. This 1800-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 the 5.35-mile Forbidden Drive flat gravel path is the easiest on the knees. For more varied terrain, try the orange, white or yellow trails.

Tyler State Park

fall foliage hikes

Here’s proof that you could spend a lifetime soaking up the fall foliage hikes at Tyler State Park. Photo via Flickr user Andy Thrasher.

Drive from Philly: 45 minutes

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

Haverford College Nature Trail

Drive from Philly: 30 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 (and surprising) fall foliage-peeping adventure, right in the heart of the Main Line. And since it’s a loop, on both gravel and dirt surfaces, you can do as multiple treks around to achieve your desired distance.

Wawa Preserve

Drive from Philly: About 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. Be sure to download the Natural Lands app before you go to get your hands on detailed interactive trail maps, wildlife to look out for and more. Note that restrooms are closed to promote safety during COVID-19.

Bartram’s Garden

fall foliage hikes

Nothing but blue skys and fall foliage hikes at Bartram’s Gardens. Photograph via Flickr user The West End.

Drive from Philly: 20 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.

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