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5 Great Trails to Check Out in the Philadelphia Area

5 Great Trails to Check Out in the Philadelphia Area


In Philadelphia, we’re lucky to have some of the best trails in the country, giving us every opportunity to run, bike, hike, walk and even ride a horse. These trails allow you to explore nature, commune with wildlife, discover history, and appreciate rural scenes and city skyscapes. Whether you’re in the Philly suburbs, by the airport or smack dab in Center City, you’re likely to find a trail nearby that’s worth exploring. Here are some top picks courtesy of

1.     Wissahickon Valley Park Trails

Just ten minutes from Center City Philadelphia, Wissahickon Valley Park is an oasis to discover. The park encompasses about 1800 acres of forest and meadows, plus a gorge that shoulders the creek. The 57 miles of trails in this park accommodate a multitude of sports: running, walking, biking and, if you have the required permit(s), some allow off-road biking or horseback riding. *

Only Remaining Covered Bridge in Philadelphia -used with permission from Jim at

One of the main portions of the park, Wissahickon Valley Park Trail, also known as Forbidden Drive, was named the 2018 Trail of the Year by Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. It’s a just over five-mile stretch along the Wissahickon that takes you past the only remaining covered bridge in Philly, the historic Valley Green Inn and more interesting sites.


 2.     Schuylkill River Trail

Schyulkill Banks Boardwalk, courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission

The Schuylkill River Trail is one of the most popular paths for Philadelphians as well as suburbanites who live west of the city. Stretching from Philadelphia to Parkerford, PA, with some breaks the trail actually extends up to Reading, PA and beyond. Total projected length of the trail is about 130 miles.

If you’re looking for a nice stroll, take the trail south from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will experience the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk. It’s a path over the water complete with scenic overlooks which enable you to relax and take in Philadelphia’s skyline. If you go there on a Saturday morning in spring, summer or fall, you’ll find it abuzz with cyclists, runners, and walkers.  Looking for a more intense route? Simply start lower down near Locust or explore various trail options including an 8-mile East Falls Loop and more.

3.     Impoundment Trail at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

 photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Located in Tinicum, this wildlife refuge is the unexpected neighbor to the Philadelphia International Airport. The 1200-acre refuge surrounds a tidal marsh which you can access using their convenient boardwalk.

With birds, butterflies, ducks, deer, turtles, fish, wildflowers and water, you’ll likely want to visit this urban retreat with binoculars in hand. While there are ten miles of trails for walking and jogging, people talk most highly of the Impoundment Trail. It’s an approximate 3 mile loop around the marsh. You can relax on the benches along the way and read the educational signage to learn about your surroundings. Plus, trail aficionados say this path takes you through the park’s most scenic areas.

 4.     Pennypack Trail 

Schyulkill Banks Boardwalk, courtesy of Montgomery County Planning Commission

There are many options for walking on trails at Pennypack Park, about 10 miles from Center City in Northeast Philadelphia. Most recently in 2015 a newly completed nearby (just outside of the city) Pennypack Trail which runs for over 15 miles from Byberry Road in Huntingdon Valley south to State Road in Holmesburg along Pennypack Creek. Escape into this beautiful oasis with options for walking, running, biking, and more. Explore meadows, forests, massive trees, and historic structures.

The trail surface varies from asphalt to dirt, making part of it ideal for cycling, inline skating and wheelchairs while other areas are suitable for hiking and more.

5.     The Loop around Valley Forge National Historic Park

Take a short drive outside the city to Valley Forge National Historic Park. There are 28 miles of trails in the park. Among the most popular is a paved five-mile loop around the park, called Joseph Plumb Martin Trail which takes you past historic monuments, recreated log-huts, the Washington Memorial Chapel and plenty of open, scenic views.

To orient yourself to the park, start at the Visitor Center, which sits alongside the trail. There, you can learn about the 1777-1778 encampment during the Revolutionary War before you venture out.

So take the opportunity to get out in nature.  It’s best to confirm details on rules and permits for the activities you wish to do. Also, because weather can affect trail access, check the official websites and/or call before you go to ensure your chosen trail is open.


Carolyn Frith, a content consultant who owns Carolyn Frith Marketing, aims to rid the world of snore-and-bore writing on the web. Topics she covers range from Philadelphia events and real estate options to a range of other content.

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    September 27, 2018 at 10:06 am

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