The 5 Prettiest Nature Trails within Easy Driving Distance of Philly
This Spring, celebrate the environment by visiting the lands dedicated to preserving it. One of the biggest advantages of living in Greater Philadelphia is that you’re never more than a short, scenic drive (preferably in an electric vehicle) away from nature. The trails below feature some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the region, while also presenting plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Spring sunshine with outdoor activities like whitewater rafting and horseback riding.
For the perfect environmentally responsible afternoon (or even weekend) outdoors, check out these incredible nature trails around Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Tohickon Valley Park
Drive through Bucks County’s celebrated, idyllic pastures and woodlands until you reach Tohickon Valley Park at the Northeast of the county. There, the best of Bucks’ natural wonders are on display in Tohickon Valley Park, where the incredibly clear Tohickon Creek cuts through bands of ancient shale and sandstone.
The natural rock formations along the river culminate in the High Rocks—two-hundred-foot cliffs overlooking the creek and surrounding woodlands. After snapping some pics, take one of several natural trails heading down from the cliffside, and try your hand at mountain biking, cliff climbing, or visit the river during a dam release for a class 3 and 4 whitewater rafting adventure.
A few miles upstream, Tohickon Creek runs through Lake Nockamixon, a great spot for sailing and boating—if you’re looking to test out your towing capacity, it’s only a twenty-minute haul to their marina.
Kellys Run Nature Preserve
If you’re looking to break a sweat on an otherwise tranquil nature walk, check out Kellys Run Trail at Kellys Run Nature Preserve. The 3-plus mile loop guides you through challenges like stream crossings and over bedrock and boulders. Just looking for some great views? Head on over to Pinnacle Overlook through any one of a network of trails that connect Kellys Run to the larger Conestoga Trail, which runs across the Eastern half of the state.
At the start or end of your trip (or both) make sure to check out Pollinator Park—14 acres of meadows and wildflowers designed as a refuge for honeybees and pollinators (which means butterflies!). As a preserve, Kellys Run as a whole is the perfect place to spot a wide variety of flora and fauna, from flowering pawpaw trees to warblers and woodpeckers. Conveniently, if you’re ready to recharge your EV at this point, there’s a charging station just seven minutes away.
Wharton State Forest
The New Jersey Pine Barrens have given rise to plenty of urban legends over the years, but don’t get too caught up in the tales; the real natural wonders on display here are far more impressive.
In Wharton State Forest, you’ll have a chance to see river otters, bald eagles, great horned owls and more. The park allows you to hop on and hop off its famous 50-mile Batona Trail, so you can pick and choose the most photo-worthy points to map out your day. A must-stop is Apple Pie Hill, one of the highest points in the Pine Barrens and a great place to appreciate the vastness of the wild.
Ridley Creek State Park
You won’t have to expend much of a charge to get to Ridley Creek State Park—it’s only 16 miles from Center City, Philadelphia. And yet, it has just about everything you could want for a day in the woods across its 12 miles of trails and 2,600 acres. Wooded, rolling hills are great for exploring and hiking on your own, but if you’re looking for an expert to introduce you to the wilderness, you can try a guided trail on horseback. For cyclists, a paved five-mile trail makes enjoying the natural world a breeze.
You can even mix in some history, as the park is a National Historic Landmark. It includes the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation, a 300-year-old structure where historical interpreters recreate the daily life and activities of a typical 18th-century Quaker family.
Wissahickon Valley Park
For wildlife enthusiasts, Wissahickon Valley Park is the place to go. The 1,800-acre gorge is home to over 50 miles of trails that lead through wooded areas, meadows and down along Wissahickon Creek. With dozens of bird species, the park is designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Birding Area. On top of that, the creek is stocked with trout each Spring so the park is a main attraction for Philly-area fishermen. Trail difficulties range from challengingly rugged to relaxing, paved options.
For a trip you can feel particularly good about, keep your environmental impact low by making the drive with an all-electric Audi e-tron. The luxury SUV features Audi’s quattro® All Wheel Drive, a long-lasting charge, massive towing capacity and a premium interior, so you can handle the wilderness in comfort, all while knowing you’re doing right by the environment.This is a paid partnership between Audi and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio