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While Philadelphia may be known for its historic sites and cheese steaks, it’s also a fantastic place to be if you’re looking for outdoor activities. In addition to beautiful mountains nearby (perfect for skiing/snowboarding or camping!), there are also several urban green spaces and trails that are great places to get some fresh air without leaving the city. Hiking near Philadelphia is quite easy because of the abundance of national and state parks – it’s one of our favorite things to do around the city. To help you out, we wrote this guide with 17 of the most scenic and accessible hikes near Philadelphia so you can plan your next adventure!

Photo Credit: Michael Stokes (Flickr CC)

Easy Hiking near Philadelphia

Schuylkill River Trail

  • Trail Distance: 70+ miles total, 140 miles planned
  • Location: Spans from downtown Philadelphia to Landingville, PA

As the city’s most popular walking, running, and biking trail, the Schuylkill River Trail is a fantastic place to go hiking in Philadelphia. This planned urban pathway is set to extend a whopping 140 miles, although right now only about 70 miles are accessible. Starting in downtown Philadelphia, this trail winds across beautiful bridges with beautiful skyline views, as well as forests and more nature-infused areas. It’s a great trail to head to with families and dogs, or on your own to enjoy some fresh air in the heart of the city.

Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop Trail

If you’re looking for a trail that’s close to home but still filled with nature, the Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop Trail is a great half- or full-day adventure for hikers of all levels. This 9.2-mile trail extends largely through dirt and rock pathways, passing by several of the historic sites and bridges in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The trails also pass by a scenic waterfall and is mostly shaded, perfect for summertime strolls or mid-afternoon adventures.

Ringing Rocks Trail

  • Trail Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Location: Ringing Rocks County Park

Before you scoff at the short distance of the Ringing Rocks Trail, hear us out: this is arguably one of the coolest hikes near Philadelphia. No, not for the trail itself or the tough workout, but because the rock field at the end is covered in rocks that literally sing when hit. Be sure to bring a metal baseball bat or hammer with you to experience the magic of these musical stones! Because this is such a strange and interesting natural attraction, the trail does get quite busy. However, you can avoid crowds by going early in the morning!

Photo Credit: Thomas (Flickr CC)

Valley Forge Historic Trail

  • Trail Distance: 7.7 miles
  • Location: Valley Forge National Historic Park

For history lovers, there’s no better place to explore than Valley Forge National Historic Park. Full of revolutionary era log cabins, homes, and people dressed in historic attire, it’s an extra fun place to take kids to teach them about the history of Pennsylvania. At 7.7 miles, the Valley Forge Historic Trail might seem long, but it’s flat and a great way to spend a day exploring both nature and history. Most of the trails here are flat and paved, and it’s accessible for all hikers, including young kids and dogs.

High Rocks Trail

  • Trail Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Location: Tohickon Valley Park

Nature, rivers, and forests await at High Rocks Trail, which is located in Tohickon Valley Park. This easy trail offers a bit more of a rugged spot for hiking near Philadelphia, culminating in a rocky outcropping that boasts stunning views of the Tohickon Creek.

We’d strongly recommend taking a photo of the trail map along with you to make sure you are on the right path, as the numerous trail options can be very confusing at parts. Those who choose to make the trek here will be rewarded with stunning views of rock formations, the valley, and the colors of the forest surrounding the trails.

Photo Credit: Thomas (Flickr CC)

John Heinz Lake Loop

  • Trail Distance: 3.7 miles
  • Location: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

If it’s wildlife and bird watching you’re seeking, there’s no better spot for hiking near Philadelphia than John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Comprised of a marshy area, the park attracts lots of local and migratory bird specials, as well as marine wildlife. The Lake Loop trail is a perfect way to experience the park. While it’s not exactly removed from the city, it’s an incredible sight to see this conservation area amidst a rather large urban backdrop.

Photo Credit: Scottb211 (Flickr CC)

Canyon Rim Trail

  • Trail Distance: 1 mile
  • Location: Colton Point State Park

Here’s a secret about hiking near Philadelphia: sometimes the shortest hikes are actually the coolest. The Canyon Rim Trail in Colton Point State Park is one such instance – the view of the canyon from the trail is one of the most stunning on our list. At just 1 mile, this trail is quite accessible to all levels of hikers, and weaves through forests and rocky areas to get to the prime viewpoint of Pine Creek Canyon.

Photo Credit: Thomas (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes near Philadelphia

Wissahickon Gorge North Loop

  • Trail Distance: 4.7 miles
  • Location: Valley Forge National Historic Park

For a more challenging hike in the Valley Forge area, the Wissahickon Gorge North Loop is a fantastic spot for hiking near Philadelphia. This trail offers a mix of gravel and rocky terrain, as well as a few slopes for a little bit more of a workout than the easier hikes on this guide. This forested trail is unique because of all there is to see along the way – historic bridges and ruins, large statues of people and animals, and of course, the creek and its tiny cascades.

Mount Misery

  • Trail Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Location: Valley Forge National Historic Park

For a relaxed, forested trail that takes you away from the chaos of the city, Mount Misery is one of the most tranquil hikes near Philadelphia. Despite its name, this hike is actually quite fun! Located in Valley Forget National Historic Park, the trail runs through the beautiful forested grounds of the park, and connects with many other trails, like the Horseshoe Loop or Mount Joy. The trail also passes by historic stone ruins that you can explore along the way.

Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa (Flickr CC)

Mount Minsi

  • Trail Distance: 5.3 miles
  • Location: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Philly locals love hiking Mount Minsi – a 5.3-mile moderate hike in one of the most naturally scenic areas in Pennsylvania. This rock mountain offers stunning views of its own rock faces, the nearby river, and the surrounding forests, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. It’s also part of the iconic Appalachian Trail, so you can also leave your hike with the bragging rights of completing a part of it! Mount Minsi is one of our favorite hikes near Philadelphia that’s accessible to anyone who is up for a bit of a challenge!

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Mt. Tammany

  • Trail Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Location: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

A sister hike to Mount Minsi, Mount Tammany is located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This hike is similar to Mount Minsi as it boasts beautiful views of Mount Minsi, the river and valleys below, and the colorful wooded areas nearby. However, get ready to climb, as this short trail has some significant inclines to get to the top. If you’re up for a full day of hiking near Philadelphia, we’d recommend tackling both Mount Minsi and Mount Tammany for a double whammy!

Photo Credit: Gene Krasko (Flickr CC)

Ricketts Glen Falls

  • Trail Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Location: Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen Falls is a paradise for waterfall lovers, and is one of the coolest and most picturesque hikes near Philadelphia. This short but mighty trail is home to a whopping 17 waterfalls, all of which you can see on this 3.3-mile trail. You’ll have to work for this one – it’s fairly steep and rocky, and many areas can get slippery. But the challenge is definitely worth the reward as you pass by some of the most beautiful cascades in the state!

Kelly’s Run

  • Trail Distance: 3.7 miles
  • Location: Holtwood Recreation Park

For waterfalls, bridges, forests, rock formations, and more, Kelly’s Run is a fantastic hiking trail near Philadelphia where you can see it all. This shorter hike meanders through canyon-like rock formations past small cascades and creeks, as well as open meadows that bloom with wildflowers in the warmer months. Those who like to scramble and climb can explore some of the many rock scrambles that line the trails, as well (but practice safety as you go!).

Photo Credit: hey tiffany! (Flickr CC)

The Pinnacle

  • Trail Distance: 10 miles
  • Location: Kempton, PA

If you’re seeking a full-day adventure, the Pinnacle Trail is a favorite local getaway for hiking near Philadelphia. This 10-mile trail is one of the longer ones on our list, and it boasts stunning views from its rocky peak. We’d recommend this trail for hikers with some experience under their belts, as it is fairly strenuous in some areas and is a much longer distance than many other hikes we’ve listed here.

The Pinnacle Trail is unique because it is located in an area abundant with wildlife. For this reason, it’s advised to wear bright, easily visible colors on your hike as it’s a popular area for hunters.

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes near Philadelphia

Loyalsock Trail

  • Trail Distance: 54.2 miles
  • Location: Worlds End State Park

As one of the few places for through hiking near Philadelphia, Loyalsock Trail is a stunning backcountry trail area that offers experienced, advanced-level hikers a chance for a multi-day adventure. At 54.2 miles, this trail is typically done in 4+ days, and you’ll need to bring the appropriate camping gear for it. However, hikers who tackle the Loyalsock Trail mention that it’s incredibly difficult, but well worth it for the amazing views and spectacular scenery.

Photo Credit: Richard Bonnett (Flickr CC)

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.4 miles
  • Location: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is home to many birds of prey, and is located on a scenic mountaintop where viewing is optimal. Bird watchers will love the wildlife opportunities here, but there’s so much more for experienced hikers who are looking for a bit of a shorter adventure. Scrambling and steep ascents are all part of the package at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Trail – get ready to get your hands dirty and break a sweat if you choose to do this hike.

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Sullivan Run Trail to Lewis Falls

  • Trail Distance: 8.3 miles
  • Location: Ricketts Glen State Park

Of course, we’ve saved the best for last – Sullivan Run Trail to Lewis Falls. This strenuous, 8.3-mile trail is a well-kept secret in the Ricketts Glen area, but local hikers love it for the physical challenge and scenery. Many hikers claim that this is the “most beautiful trail in Pennsylvania” and has some of the best views around. Along the trail, you’ll encounter lots and lots of waterfalls and cascades. Be aware that this trail is notoriously hard to follow, so download the route on AllTrails beforehand if you plan to tackle it for the first time.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Philadelphia

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

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