Craving an escape from the bustling cityscape to rejuvenate, work up a sweat, and enjoy some time in nature? Even in the midst of a concrete jungle like Philly, you’re only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the great outdoors. Venture a mere 10 miles from the city center and uncover the diverse and picturesque hiking near Philadelphia.
But what trails are the cream of the crop?
We’ve created a guide on the 6 best hikes near Philadelphia—in order of least challenging to most challenging—to get your outdoor adventures started.
#1 Forbidden Drive Trail (5-7 miles, beginners)
Looking for some fun outdoor date ideas in Philly? Why not go hiking in Wissahickon Valley Park? It is a National Natural Landmark near central Philadelphia, and is a flat, gravel, 7-mile path that runs alongside the beautiful Wissahickon Creek. With an average grade of 3%, Forbidden Drive is ideal for beginners, joggers, or families that want to take a leisurely stroll through the historic pathway. Located just ten miles outside the city center or downtown Philadelphia, this urban park—once the home to various logging mills—protects 2,042 acres of woodland surrounding Wissahickon Creek.1
The lush route will wind past numerous picnic areas as well as historic sites and buildings, including:
- Historic Rittenhouse Town near the Lincoln Drive Trailhead
- The Wissahickon Environmental Center
- Morris Arboretum
From Forbidden Drive, you can also link up with various other great hiking trails, including the Schuylkill River Trail and the Wissahickon Green Ribbon Hiking Trail. If you’re up for another beginner trail, you can try the Chester Valley trail or the Neshaminy State Park trail.
#2 John Heinz Wildlife Refuge Trails (up to 10 miles of beginner trails)
Located approximately 10 miles to the southwest of Philly is John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum.
A wildlife refuge, this freshwater tidal marsh—the largest in Pennsylvania—is home to more than 300 species of birds and 80 nesting species and is open from sunrise to sunset. With a flat, crushed stone and gravel path, it’s the perfect locale for idyllic birdwatching or simply connecting with nature, while still enjoying views of the Philly skyline.2
This path offers several beginner-level trails that wind through diverse wetlands, meadows, and woodlands, including:
- John Heinz Lake Loop
- Big Boardwalk Loop Trail
- John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge Loop from Wanamaker Avenue Trailhead
#3 Pennypack Trail (5.4 miles, intermediate hiking)
A local favorite, Pennypack Park is located 12 miles to the northeast of the city center. Considered a cousin to Wissahickon Gorge, the park covers 1,600 acres of diverse landscape, including woodlands, meadows, wetlands, and fields.3
If you want a moderate challenge, this trail offers a mix of paved and unpaved paths with some rolling hills and notable slopes, offering hikers picturesque views, historic structures, and serene creek-side scenes.
#4 Valley Forge Historical Park Trails (up to 8.7 miles, intermediate hiking)
Lying just 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia is the historic Valley Forge—the historic site of George Washington’s Continental Army winter encampment during the American Revolutionary War from December 1777 to June 1778.
Now a historic park, Valley Forge trail has a rich history, offering hikers a mix of paved and unpaved paths, beautiful landscapes, and historic sites. Notable attractions along the route include:
- Washington’s Headquarters
- National Memorial Arch
- Muhlenberg Brigade Huts
- Steuben Memorial
- Redoubts and Earthworks
- General James Varnum’s Quarters
- Wayne’s Woods Picnic Area
#5 Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock Loop (9.3 miles, moderate-advanced)
For hikers looking for an actual challenge, there’s the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock Loop, located approximately 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Lying along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, this 9.2-mile loop gives hikers a small taste of the Appalachian Trail experience, rewarding adventurers with breathtaking vistas of the Lehigh Valley from Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock overlook.
The loop takes approximately 4 hours to complete, so be sure to dress appropriately and bring plenty of food, water, and sunscreen! If you’re up for another moderately challenging hiking trail, High Rocks in Tohickon Valley Park is also a great option.
#6 Glen Onoko Falls Trail (3.7 miles, advanced)
Although shorter in length, the Glen Onoko Falls Trail makes up for that in elevation change. The trail features steep inclines, rocky terrain, and slippery grounds, making it ideal for experienced hikers looking for a challenge.
As you ascend, the path will pass several lovely waterfalls, culminating at the top with the impressive Glen Onoko Falls. From the overlook, you can also enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the Leigh Gorge.
Move to Philly with Common
Even if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a big city like Philadelphia has an abundance of green spaces and nearby parks, trails, and wildlife refuges close to the city center, catering to hikers of all ages and skill-levels. Put simply, hiking in Philadelphia is a perfect blend of beautiful scenery and history.
Common is here to make your transition to Philly as enjoyable as one of its many great hiking trails! If you’re looking for a private rental or a coliving space in Philadelphia, contact us now! Whether you want to reside in the city center or on the outskirts so you’re closer to nature, we have coliving and private apartments located in Spring Garden, Fairmount, and Fishtown.
- FOW. Maps & Directions. https://fow.org/visit-the-park/maps/
- Trail Link. John Heinz Refuge Trail Photos. https://www.traillink.com/trail/john-heinz-refuge-trail/
- Visit Philly. Pennypack Park. https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/pennypack-park/