When you think of the city of Philadelphia, a few things come to mind: cheesesteaks, rowdy sports fans, and the cinematic boxing legend Rocky, to name a few. But Philly is more than a concrete jungle; the urban hiking scene is top-notch.
Whether you’re looking for a quick in-the-city amble or a wild nature retreat, try these three easy hikes around the City of Brotherly Love to experience everything from city views to historic sites.
3 of the Best Hikes Near Philadelphia
Wissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park is best described as Philadelphia’s backyard. It’s on the edge of Center City near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but its serene wilderness setting makes you forget you’re in one of America’s largest cities. This land along Wissahickon Creek was protected in 1868 to preserve the city’s water supply and is a playground for city residents looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
There are over 50 trails to hike in the park, but the easiest is Forbidden Drive. Before the park was created, this dirt road was open to vehicular traffic, but it’s long been closed and is a favorite of hikers, runners, and cyclists. Follow the path to reach a covered bridge, old stone bridges, and two statues paying tribute to the Leni Lenape Native American tribe.
Enjoy the view from Devil’s Pool, but don’t go for a swim, as it is not allowed at this time. Refuel after your hike with snacks and drinks at Valley Green Inn, the last of the old roadhouses on this road.
Schuylkill River Trail
If you want an urban outdoor walk with city views, head for the Schuylkill River Trail. The trail spans 140 miles from Philadelphia to Landingville, but we love the 8-mile Schuylkill Banks section that runs from the Fairmount Dam to Bartrams Garden—right through the heart of the city.
Walk on water on certain sections of this paved river path while overlooking city skyscrapers and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For a longer walk, continue up the trail to the town of Manayunk and dine at a hip Main Street restaurant before returning to the city.
Valley Forge Historic Trail
Experience Revolutionary War history at Valley Forge National Historic Park, the encampment site of General George Washington and the Continental Army during the winter of 1777-1778. Revolution-era cabins, homes, and military structures are preserved here, with 35 miles of trails to explore.
The park also protects thousands of acres of Pennsylvania mountains, meadows, and woodlands with picturesque countryside views. The best part? It’s just 24 miles from Center City Philadelphia to Valley Forge.
Looking to learn more about the Revolutionary War? Follow the flat, paved Joseph Plumb Martin Loop five miles around the Grand Parade. Cyclists are also allowed on the path, so pay attention to your surroundings as you walk.
For something more wild, follow spur trails off the main loop to visit Washington’s Headquarters and Knox’s Quarters. You’ll also find steeper, more challenging trails through the forest up Mount Joy and Mount Misery.
About the Author:
Jenny Willden is a Salt Lake City, Utah native and a freelance adventure travel writer. She’s served as managing editor of Utah’s Outdoor Sports Guide magazine for over a decade and has written for over 70 other publications. When she's not writing, you'll find Jenny exploring the mountains via snowboard or hiking boots. You can keep up with her hiking adventures on Instagram at @jenny.willden.