It is never too soon to start planning that summer backpacking trip in and around Philadelphia. The Delaware Valley is home to miles and miles of trails for the beginner to the seasoned professional. Often times you only have to look out your back door or around the corner to find a popular trail or a secluded venue to take in the sights, breathe in some fresh air and commune with nature.

The Wissahickon Valley Park

Located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, the park has more than 50 miles of hiking trails, so there is plenty to see and do whether you are looking to spend a few hours or a few days. Hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians can explore the park’s dense forests, open meadows and shaded creeks causing many visitors to forget that are still within Philadelphia’s city limits. The more popular Forbidden Drive runs for five miles along Wissahickon Creek, and is good for hikers of all ages and abilities. The park’s upper trails can be rocky, steep, and challenging and are better for experienced hikers.

The Lavender Loop

Not to be missed in Wissahickon Valley Park is the popular Lavender Loop. The seven-mile trek which starts at the Lavender trailhead on Credfeld Street in Philadelphia, hikers enter a stream and waterfall-filled gorge and take in the sights and scents of old-growth magnolia trees and lavender plants.

Wharton State Forest

If you and your backpack are looking for something less challenging and easier on the feet and legs then you may want to try the 3.5-mile soft, sandy paths of Wharton State Forest. The trail begins near Batso Village, crossing the Mullica River over three wooden bridges before ending near the Mullica River Wilderness campsite. The more adventurous backpacker can continue on past the campsite to Atsion Village.

Pennypack Trail

One of the newer established trails in the region to test your endurance is the 5.4 mile Pennypack Trail in Montgomery County. Extending from Rockledge Borough to Byberry Road near Mason’s Mill Park, the trail provides level hiking and biking opportunities with scenic views of the Pennypack Creek Valley. Built on the former Fox Chase-Newtown SEPTA rail line, the gravel path will allow enthusiasts to explore meadows and forests with huge trees and come close to birds and animals.

Related: Top Parks In Philadelphia

Ridley Creek State Park

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, pack your hiking essentials and take a trip to Ridley Creek State Park, located just 16 miles from downtown Philadelphia. The park encompasses 2.606 acres of woodlands and meadows in Delaware County and is seen as an oasis of open space in a quickly growing urban area. With 13 miles of hiking trails and 5 miles of biking and jogging trails, you will pass through a variety of habitats throughout the central portion of the park.

Lock 12 Loop

For the more adventurous backpacker who really wants to get away from it all, they may want to tackle the 9.8-mile trek along the Mason-Dixon Trail along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The trip begins at the historic Lock 12 of the Susquehanna Canal then heads south for a quick loop on Peavine Island. You can enjoy the gorgeous waterfall views of the Susquehanna, the Norman Wood Bridge, the Holtwood Hydroelectric Plant and Lake Aldred.

Related: Top National Parks Near Philadelphia

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