15 Stunning Hikes For All Levels Near Philadelphia

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia For All Levels

Philadelphia may be steeped in American Independence history, have killer cheesesteaks, and a thriving music and arts scene, but did you know it also has some pretty awesome hikes to its name too?.

Philly is a thoughtfully planned city with many green spaces that offer Philadelphians a chance to get their nature-fix, without even having to leave the city. 

If you do fancy getting out of the city for a hike, well, you’re in luck, as the Philly area is spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking trails.

And we don’t just mean easy strolls for the family (although there are plenty of them too), oh no, there are some spectacular hikes that cater for moderate and advanced level hikers as well. 

Each offering a completely unique hiking experience, the state parks of Loyalsock, Ricketts Glen, and Evansburg are all within striking distance of Philly’s city center.

Mountainous regions with searing views that leave your jaw on the floor are very common around Philly. Read on and get inspired by these 15 beautiful hikes nearby the historic city of Philly. 

Easy Hikes Near Philadelphia

Schuylkill River Trail

Schuylkill River Trail

Location:

Downtown Philadelphia to Landingville

Trail Distance:

75 miles (120 miles planned)

With big plans to extend the Schuylkill river trail an additional 45 miles to create a paved multi-use trail from Frackville through Montgomery, Chester, and ending up in Philly – this is an impressive enterprise, to say the least.

At present, the trail is nice and considered 75 miles. You might be thinking; how can a 75-mile trail possibly be classed as an easy hike? And you’re not silly for thinking so, but hear us out. 

This trail which runs directly through the heart of downtown Philly along the east side of the Schuylkill River is adored by Philadelphians.

Adored by locals who haven’t got the time or the means to travel out of the city but are still looking for a hike in nature.

Winding along the river, crossing bridges while taking in the stunning skyline of Philly is all part and parcel of this urban trail.

Once you’ve hiked out of the city, you’ll be cruising through thick forested areas and green spaces that will have you feeling instantly invigorated.

Of course, this trail can be as long or as short as you like, for when you’ve had enough, simply turn around and take in the sights from a whole new perspective on the way home.

Ringing Rocks Trail

Ringing Rocks Trail

Location:

Ringing Rocks County Park

Trail Distance:

0.9 miles

An hour or so north of Philly, there is a natural wonder that needs to be heard to be believed.

The hike itself is a short one at best and requires very little physical exertion to accomplish, but the sonic reward at the end of the trail is why people flock to Ringing Rocks.

If its name hasn’t already given it away, at the end of this hike, you’ll be presented with a large boulder field. A field that comprises, in its entirety, of singing stones.

Bring a metal tool from the garden shed along with you to give the rocks a little tap and listen as they let out a symphony of musical notes.

Call it science, call it a musical gift from above, call it what you want, but one thing is for certain – these rocks sure are cool.

Neshaminy Loop
Source: Alltrails

Neshaminy Loop

Location:

Neshaminy State Park

Trail Distance:

2.5 mile 

Follow the Delaware River out of Philly for 20 or so minutes on the US-95 highway, take exit 37 and you’ll be driving into Neshaminy State Park, Bucks County.

The park is only a small one, with, at best, about 4 miles of hiking trails, but the 2.5-mile loop that it’s known for really is something.

Along the hike, you’ll be treated to some amazing views of the Delaware in all its fast-flowing glory as well as a unique perspective of Philadelphia’s iconic skyline.

You’ll also be hiking through some lush woodland that offers the chance to spot some local birds and wildlife along the way.

Once you’ve made it around the trail, there’s even a park swimming pool that you can take a well-earned dip in if that’s your kind of thing. With very gentle slopes, this is an easy trail perfect for families and all hiking levels.

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia for All Levels

High Rocks Trail

Location:

Tohickon Valley Park

Trail Distance:

3.9 miles

Closeby to the musically gifted stone of Ringing Rocks County Park lies Tohickon Valley Park which is a more rough and ready park to hike.

High Rocks trail is a fairly long and slightly challenging one for beginner hikers, but with a decent level of fitness, it can be accomplished confidently.

The pinnacle of the trail is without a doubt the rocky outcropping that offers a stunning, wide-sweeping view over Tohickon Creek.

Along the way, the trail also features some impressive views of unique rock formations, the valley floor, and the vibrant colors of the forest that surrounds the park.

Be sure to take a trip up to High Rocks in the fall to really capture the beauty and essence of the deciduous forest that turns into a fiery display of amber and red.

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia for All Levels

John Heinz Lake Loop

Location:

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

Trail Distance:

3.5 miles

Situated next to the Philadelphia International Airport on the periphery of the city is one of the best spots in Pennsylvania for bird watching.

Yes, tucked right up beside an international airport is a rather strange place for a wildlife refuge, but the low-lying marshy land of the area makes it the perfect nesting haven for countless species of bird. 

The 1,000-acre refuge has approximately 10 miles of hiking trails that snake their way through the marshland and offer some breathtaking birdwatching opportunities along the way.

The trails are both easy to hike and follow, making this a very fun and interactive day out for the whole family.

With over 300 species of birds being documented here over the years, it’s the kind of place that will give both kids and adults a real sense of the wild.

A convenient stone’s throw from the city center puts John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge as a must-see while in Philly. 

Moderate Hikes Near Philadelphia

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia for All Levels

Mt. Tammany

Location:

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Trail Distance:

3.5 miles

A bit of a trek out of Philly at nearly a two-hour drive from the city center, the Delaware Water Gap is a sight for sore eyes, to say the least.

Although it’s not considered a long hike at just 3.5 miles, the trail to summit Mount Tammany has some challenging inclines that require a moderate level of fitness and hiking ability to climb.

Once you do reach the top though, boy oh boy, the views of the forested Delaware Water Gap below are undeniably breathtaking and most certainly worth the squeeze. 

Make sure you pack the camera for this one, as it’s widely regarded as one of the more picturesque viewpoints in all of Pennsylvania.

If you’re feeling inspired at the summit and still have some energy left in the tank, then there’s also the option to carry on and summit Mount Minsi in the one full-day hike. At over 6 miles, this will start to become a challenging hike for anyone who isn’t physically fit and able.

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia for All Levels

Ricketts Glen Falls

Location:

Ricketts Glen State Park 

Trail Distance:

3.3 miles 

If the sight of a waterfall makes your heart melt just a little, then steady yourself, as Ricketts Glen Falls trail takes you past a total of 17 stunning waterfalls.

Unsurprisingly this is another trail that’s often regarded as one of the most scenic hikes of the region. However, it must be known, that to stock up on your waterfall fix for an entire year does require some effort. 

The trail winds its way up to some steep and rocky climbs that will get your heart pounding even before you’ve had your first glimpse of a waterfall.

Covering a short distance of only 3.3 miles, the Ricketts Glen does allow you to take your time without fear of making it back to the car park after dark.

A good two-hour drive out of Philly, you’ll want to leave early morning to ensure you make the most of your day in the cascades.

Kelly’s Run

Location:

Holtwood Recreation Park

Trail Distance:

3.7 mile

1.5 hours west of Philly and sandwiched between Clarke lake and the Susquehanna river system is the hidden gem of Holtwood Recreation Park.

Ok, it may not technically be hidden, but compared to some of the other state parks of the area, you can really score a quiet hike if you pick the right times at Holtwood.

Kelly’s Run is a stunning hike that packs plenty of unique features into its 3.7-mile length.

The hike essentially takes you through a small canyon with unique rock formations, gentle waterfalls, and a running stream before popping you out into an open meadow that blooms an abundance of wildflowers in the spring and summer months.

Sure there are a few rocks to consider, but this hike is on the easy side of moderate and offers some really special moments in nature.

Mount Misery Trail

Location:

Valley Forge National Historic Park

Trail Distance:

2.9 miles

The Valley Forge National Historic Park is a quick 20-mile drive out of Philly with a bunch of pleasant trails for hikers.

Despite its name, Mount Misery Trail is a superb hike that only requires a base level of fitness to finish.

The trail follows a relatively flat forested trail through the historic revolutionary grounds of Valley Forge, and at just 2.9 miles, is a relaxing 2-3 hour hike for most hikers.

You’ll also pass a sequence of historic stone ruins that are worth exploring as you go.

The beauty of this park is that you can link onto a few longer loops if you’re feeling game, including the Mount Joy and Horseshoe Loop trails.

Just be mindful of its proximity to Philly, and expect busy crowds in peak season and at peak hours of the day.

If you plan ahead to skip the crowds by going early morning on weekends or sneak out for a mid-week hike, then the whole mood of the place quietens down and becomes a peaceful place to visit.

Skippack Creek Loop Trail
Source: Alltrails

Skippack Creek Loop Trail

Location:

Evansburg State Park

Trail Distance:

4.5 miles

10 miles northeast of Valley Forge is the heavily wooded state park of Evansburg.

And in this pretty woodland is a delightful trail that’s very popular amongst hikers, dog walkers, runners, the lot.

Skippack Creek Loop is a 4.5-mile well-trod trail that’s easy to follow and takes you along Skippack Creek through dense woodland – perfect for escaping the harsh summer sun.

The trail, in total, has 75 meters of elevation and is open year-round to offer some great snowshoeing in the wintertime.

Dogs are welcome in Evansburg as well, just remember to always have them on lead when in the park.

If you really enjoyed Skippack, there are four more defined trails in the 1,355-hectare park that are just as idyllic and probably a little less busy. 

Challenging Hikes Near Philadelphia

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia for All Levels

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Loop Trail

Location:

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Trail Distance:

5.4 miles

They certainly don’t call it Hawk Mountain for nothing. Hawk Mountain gives birdwatchers and hikers alike some spectacular viewing potential of many birds of prey.

Stealthy birds like the American Kestrel, Broad-Winged Hawk, Rough-Legged Buzzard, Bald Eagle, and the Black Vulture are regularly spotted soaring the skies of this rugged place. 

The best way to make the most of Hawk Mountain is to take on the 5.4-mile loop trail.

With a bunch of rocky outcroppings that allow ample bird spotting opportunities, serious birdwatchers come from far and wide to have their chance at spotting something special.

Even if you aren’t so enamored by birds, this trail holds up to the best of them, with a few popular camping spots just off the trail too.

However, with some steep scrambling ascents up rocky sections, this is a challenging endeavor that requires a good deal of hiking knowledge and experience to safely get through.

The Pinnacle
Source: Alltrails

The Pinnacle

Location:

Kempton

Trail Distance:

9.9 miles

There’s a reason why Pennsylvania’s section of the Appalachian trail is known in the hiking scene as “Rocksylvania”, and it’s not because of the views.

Across the valley from Hawk Mountain, The Pinnacle is a pronounced peak of flat rocks that provides anyone who’s willing to hike up to it, a photo worth framing.

At 9.9 miles, this is a huge undertaking that should not be taken lightly, as there are also some challenging inclines thrown in the mix for good measure. 

For this reason, we recommend only experienced hikers with the right equipment who have previously hiked a 10 mile, have a go at The Pinnacle.

If you do fit the bill, then you’re in for a treat, as this stretch of the Appalachian is nothing short of remarkable.

The trail also takes you to the summit of Pulpit Rock which is another fantastic photo opportunity that puts The Pinnacle at the top with the best.

Sullivan Run Trail

Sullivan Run Trail

Location:

Rickets Glen State Park

Trail Distance:

8.3 miles

Rickets Glen isn’t just known for Ricket’s Glen Falls, it is also home to plenty of other falls, including the ever majestic Lewes Falls.

With a total elevation of 414 meters, Sullivan Run is an 8.3-mile hike that takes you through stunning forests, past interesting rock formations, and finishes at Lewes Falls.

Revered by many experienced hikers across Pennsylvania as being one of, if not, the most stunning hike of the lot.

Anyone who is looking for a strenuous challenge and enjoys getting away from the crowds will love this hike.

The big disclaimer when it comes to Sullivan Run is that the trail is well-known for being a difficult one to follow.

Having pre-downloaded a trail map before setting off to tackle Sullivan Run is a prerequisite as well as having a keen eye for navigation.

Expect this trail to take a minimum of five hours at a steady pace, and remember to pack your waterproof hiking boots as the trail is notoriously muddy underfoot.

Boone Trail
Source: A Light Load

Boone Trail

Location:

French Creek State Park

Trail Distance:

6 miles

If Sullivan Run had you gulping with hesitation, then Boone trail in French Creek State Park will let you breathe a sigh of relief.

Rated moderate/ hard, this 6-mile trail takes in all the best aspects of French Creek in one long loop.

Expect some steep and rocky sections mixed in with plenty of easy trail hiking that traverses a good portion of the park and hugs the picturesque Hopewell Lake.

You’ll be hiking through some fairly dense forest in French Creek so make sure your hiking boots can handle some inevitably slippery sections.

The trail also crosses Park Road a couple of times so if you have pets and children best to be mindful of that.

Closed to mountain bikes, this trail is a quiet one that makes for some good bird and wildlife spotting along the way.

With 228 meters of elevation in the entire 6-mile loop, this is a great hike for people who maybe don’t have the legs for the other challengers on this list, but still fancy feeling tired and accomplished by the end of their endeavor.

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Philadelphia for All Levels

Loyalsock Trail

Location:

Loyalsock State Park

Trail Distance:

59 miles

If you’re looking for an epic, multi-day expedition to add to your list of life accomplishments then Loyalsock Trail has got your number.

Spanning a vast section of backcountry in the Loyalsock State Forest, this 59-mile endeavor is off the beaten track of the Appalachians – giving avid hikers a whole piece of the wild that’s often to themselves.

It is a point-to-point trail that should take most advanced hikers 4 days to accomplish. This lengthy timeframe means that a well-stocked pack is essential in Loyalsock. 

Luckily you’ll have almost constant access to pristine water from Loyalsock Creek, for which this trail predominantly follows between the mountain ridges.

However, and like most world-class hikes, Loyalsock isn’t averse to some elevation either, with over 3,000 meters stretching the entire length of the hike.

It comes without saying that this trail should only be attempted by experienced hikers who have a few multi-day hikes already under their belt.

Even advanced hikers come back from Loyalsock proclaiming its difficulty, but with life-changing smiles printed across their faces – the spoils of Loyalsock speak for themselves. 

Summary

As you can see, even though the Philly region isn’t known for its hikes, it is seriously stacked with them.

Sure it may not have the same dramatic mountain ranges of some other states, but what it does have, it has it in spades.

Good portions of the state are covered in low-level mountain ranges and protected forests, which both make for some unforgettable hikes.

We hope this article has inspired you to get out there and challenge yourself while exploring the unspoiled ruggedness that’s waiting for you just beyond Philly.

Emily Winters