One of the best things about calling the City of Brotherly Love home is being surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside this side of the Mississippi. If you are yearning to get in touch with nature, you can head to the hills, take a riverside trek or hike by the beach. Breathe in some fresh air, see beams of sunlight filter through the trees or watch the sun glisten on the water. When you are entrenched on the Main Line, it’s easy to forget all that the Philadelphia region has to offer. Here are the top family hikes in and around Philly that will take you out of the concrete jungle to a world of natural beauty.
Cape May Point State Park
Cape May Point, NJ 08204
Take a scenic drive to the Jersey Shore for a beachside hike at Cape May Point State Park. The 235-acre park is part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail and features coastal woodlands, freshwater ponds, windswept dunes and a lookout balcony with vast views of the Atlantic. Much of the park’s trail is a wood boardwalk, making it an easy route for youngsters and seniors. Viewing platforms are ideal spots to rest and watch for hawks, waterfowl and shorebirds. The whitewashed Cape May Lighthouse towers over the park, and makes a great final destination on your visit to this natural wonderland.
Wissahickon Valley Park
8708 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Fifty-seven miles of trails wind through lush foliage, thick forests, a gorge and a gentle creek in Wissahickon Park. The Wissahickon Gorge, high ridges and several bridge crossings offer lovely views of the area that your family is sure to appreciate. While some of the trails are hilly and rugged, others are flat, gravel paths that are easier for young children to navigate. Forbidden Drive may not sound family friendly, but the 11-mile route is actually a safe and scenic slice of heaven for heartier hikers.
Philadelphia, PA 19152
Named for the Lenape Indian word meaning slow-moving water, Pennypack Park boasts 1,300 acres and nine miles of frontage on the gorgeous Pennypack Creek. A network of paved and unpaved trails offer a variety of lovely scenery for runners, bikers, hikers and horseback riders. Nestled in the heart of the city, open meadows, rolling hills and lush foliage make this a top park for families to enjoy the outdoors. Kids especially love searching for arrowheads and exploring the historic buildings on site.
Schuylkill River Trail
140 College Drive
Pottstown, PA 19464
Families seeking an escape will be thrilled to learn that Philadelphia’s most popular trail, the Schuylkill River Trail, follows the river of the same name from Center City to Valley Forge. The geography varies along the trail, but it’s mainly a flat, paved route. An eight-mile stretch, called the River Drive Recreational Loop, starts behind the Philadelphia Museum of Art, meanders along both sides of the river, crosses the East Falls Bridge and boomerangs back to the museum. It can get congested on the weekends, but during the warmer months, you can treat the kids to water ice, pretzels and beverages sold by vendors along the route.
Related: Top Hiking Trails In Philadelphia
Valley Forge National Historical Park
1400 North Outer Line Drive
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Valley Forge is a sprawling 3,500-acre park just outside Philly. It’s one of the biggest open spaces in the region and ranks both as a top historical and outdoor recreational site. About 30 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders carve through the rolling landscape. The Horseshoe Trail is a popular trail for families with older children, beginning near Washington’s Headquarters and connecting to the renowned Appalachian Trail. From June to Labor Day, you can even rent bicycles at the visitors center, and pedal your way through the park.
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.