No matter what season, here are the best places around Philadelphia where families can enjoy the most kid-friendly nature hikes and trails. This list is meant for families who are hikers, bikers, walkers – and strollers! Where is your family's favorite Philly place to hike?
Valley Forge National Historical Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Erin P.: Valley Forge Park honors the people of the Revolutionary War generation. The park contains 35 miles of hiking and also 19 miles of authorized biking trails. If you are interested in the historical features of the site, check out the 6.6 mile Joseph Plumb Martin Trail for the most important historic and interpretive sites. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash.
Radnor Trail - Township of Radnor
Erin P.: Radnor Trail is a 2.4-mile trail enjoyed by walkers, joggers, and hikers of all ages from Radnor-Chester Road to Sugartown Road. The part-crushed stone trail surface makes it enjoyable for families who rollerblade, skate and of course bike. Dog walking is allowed on the trail, but dogs must be on a leash. Hop on at any one of the several entrances: Brooke Road, Conestoga Road, Gallagher Road, John Cappelli Golf Range, Radnor Chester Road, Sugartown Road, West Wayne Avenue.
Montgomery County - Chester Valley Trail
Erin P.: The Chester Valley Trail was developed in 1850, and is paved, 12-feet wide, with planned improvements that will eventually stretch it to 22-miles long. This is one that trail lovers will want to keep an eye on as planned improvements include the opportunity to view the new fish ladder in Norristown Dam as well as shops, restaurants and art galleries along the trail. Kids might enjoy stopping for a mid-hike treat once these developments are complete!
McKaig Nature Education Center Trails
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: McKaig Nature Center encompasses 93 acres of exquisite preserved park areas for hiking, running and nature exploration.
Popular trail adventures include an annual 5K trail races for runners and walkers. Kids can participate in the "Monkey Miler" too (6-12 year olds). McKaig staff will lead kids from the main festival area to Monkey Rock and back through the woods.
For older families most enthusiastic about trail running, consider participating in Trail Running Clinics offered here. You all will learn the essentials of trail running, including techniques to maneuvering varied terrain.
Juan L.: Perkiomen offers 20 miles of trails connecting various parks and trails throughout the county, including Valley Forge Park and Green Lane Park. The trail is paved and shared with bikes and riders on horseback but is great for nature lovers as it's surrounded by beautiful trees and plants that provide overhead shade. The parks and open spaces provide great places for the family to stop for a picnic, rest, or kick a ball around. The perfect family outing.
Green Lane Park
Sue Krawitz Tandoc: Your family will love picturesque Green Lane Park! Open year-round, they offer 25 miles of trails suitable for hiking, horseback riding and biking. Trails marked "easy," like Perkiomen Trail, are nice for young kids, as they'll have the most level terrain option, and wider paths for multi-use walking or biking.
Savor the outdoors by camping, boating or fishing and take advantage of the Winter months by ice skating, ice fishing or cross country skiing. Plan a picnic and let the kids chose between two playgrounds or make plans in the Summer to enjoy one of their concerts or educational events.
Rolling Hill Park
Erin P.: Rolling Hill Park boasts 103 acres , including a nature park, hiking and equestrian trails. Families can enjoy the trails among wonderful trees, through beautiful meadows and alongside a peaceful river. This is a dog-friendly park, with several areas reserved to allow your family pet to be off-leash spending the afternoon with you all.
Cynwyd Heritage Trail - Lower Merion Township
Juan L.: This urban trail connects the pedestrian bridge over the Schuykill Expressway beginning in Manayunk to the historic trail that runs along an old rail line across the Expressway in Montgomery County. Since the bridge is pedestrian only, it's safe for the whole family to walk around. Once you get to the other side, the family can enjoy nature around the historic trail and end at the Bala Cynwyd Playground where the kids can play!
East Fairmount Park and Trails
Shila: East Fairmount Park is 650 acre recreational & community park where you'll find access to the famous Schuylkill River Trail, along with many other family-friendly hot spots like Boathouse Row, Smith Memorial Playground (6.5 acre play area for kids up to 10), historic landmarks, museums & scenic picnic sites.
Families seeking to train like a champ will enjoy Boxers Trail. Once a training ground good enough for the likes of Frazier & Ali, this 3.8-mile scenic wooded trail is still popular for athletes of all ages (some still in jogging strollers).
Wissahickon Valley Park
Erin P.: Wissahickon Valley Park is home to over 50 miles of trails, including forests, meadows, and creeks. For those hiking with young ones, be sure to check out Forbidden Drive, a five-mile trail that is good for all ages. The upper trails are good for runners, bikers, and horseback riders. There are many historical and geological sites to check out along the way. Check out their events page for fun opportunities, such as the All Trails Challenge Child Friendly Hike.
Fort Washington State Park
Erin P.: Fort Washington State Park has 3.5 miles of trails, and popular for family picnics. Pets are allowed, but must be on a leash! The more challenging trails wander through forests and fields, but the Green Ribbon Trail is a popular choice among bikers, hikers and cross-country skiers.
The observation deck that offers a scenic overlook is often used to watch migratory birds and is interesting for all ages.
Montgomery County - Pennypack Trail
Erin P.: A great trail for nature lovers, the Pennypack Trail begins in Huntingdon Valley in Montgomery County and extends for 5.4 miles. Young families take note that this trail is walker friendly and stroller accessible as the former Fox Chase-Newtown Rail Line has been converted to a level, 10-12 foot wide, crushed-stone trail, offering views of Pennypack Creek Valley.
Nockamixon State Park
Juan L.: This is a great day trip when your family wants a nature escape. Nockamixon's known for beautiful fall colors and stunning views of Nockamixon Lake. There are all sorts of trails to try. Many of the trails are reserved for foot traffic (no bikes), making it safe for small children to run around and play.
There are easy trails that loop to the lake and back to the parking lot (great for younger children). Older kids can hike the Old Mill area for a slightly more challenging climb.
After a good hike, there is a lot of space for a picnic, recreational games, or fishing.
Primary photo: Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash
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