Philadelphia’s Best Walking Trails
Authored By: Traillink by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy | January 15, 2021
With the Circuit Trails, one of the most progressive and far-reaching trail networking projects in the country, the City of Brotherly Love is clearly showing its passion for trails. Philadelphia offers its residents and visitors a variety of experiences when it comes to trails; here are some of our favorite options for walking in this riverfront city.
Before you hit the trails, read up on how to #RecreateResponsibly and practice good trail etiquette #OnTheCircuit.
One of southeastern Pennsylvania’s crown jewels is the Schuylkill River Trail, which will one day span 130 miles along the waterway. This 27-mile paved stretch, from downtown Philadelphia to Valley Forge National Historic Park offers a plethora of walking opportunities both short and long. A well-loved section traverses Fairmount Park past the Philadelphia Museum of Art, gardens and other attractions.
Those looking for an escape from city life can do no better than the Pennypack Trail. From the banks of the Delaware River the trail meanders 14 miles along its namesake creek northward through the beautiful Pennypack Park and wooded Lorimer Park.
The Wissahickon Valley Park Trail offers delightful views and curves as it closely follows the wooded Wissahickon Creek for 7 miles on Philadelphia’s north end.
Although only about a half-mile long, the Manayunk Bridge Trail offers sweeping views of the Schuylkill River and downtown Manayunk. For longer journeys, the trail is also bookended by a trail on either side of the river: the Schuylkill River Trail on one side and Cynwyd Heritage Trail on the other. Originally opened in 1918, the spectacular Manayunk Bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad as part of their Schuylkill Branch.
Located in southwest Philadelphia, the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge offers nearly 8 miles of crushed-stone trail in two wide loops to explore the scenic Tinicum Marsh, open meadows and woodlands. The trail offers terrific opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing; you might see deer, possums, fox, turtles, frogs and muskrats.
Tacony Creek Trail winds along the tree-lined creek nestled entirely within Tacony Creek Park. From Juniata Park, the paved pathway continues 3 miles up to Northeast Philadelphia’s East Oak Lane neighborhood. Along the way, there are ample opportunities for birdwatching, learning about the local watershed or simply taking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
A short but sweet walk, the Lincoln Drive Trail bridges the gap between two of Philadelphia’s most popular trails. At its southern end, near the mouth of the Wissahickon Creek, the trail meets the Schuylkill River Trail. On its northern end is a connection to the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail. From the start, the paved pathway offers lovely views as it dives under a towering railroad bridge and into the woodlands along Wissahickon Creek. It also includes several charming footbridges.
The Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk offers an incredible experience; built 50 feet from shore, you?re walking directly over the Schuylkill River in the vibrant heart of Philadelphia. Along the way, four lookouts with benches allow you to stop and take in the expansive views of both the river and the city?s skyline. The boardwalk is part of the developing Schuylkill River Trail and, on its northern end, it connects with the 27-mile segment that heads to Valley Forge.
Discover more of the trails in the Circuit Trails’ developing 800-mile network—and share your trail adventures on social media #OnTheCircuit!