Trails are chosen by Trish Fries, Peter Kurtz, and Tony Croasdale, Environmental Educators.
The cool, crisp autumn days are the perfect time to get outside and hike Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s beautiful trails. Walk, cycle, or jog along some of the most scenic locations in the city. Trails are available for all activity levels. Check out these options for fall fitness:
1. Andorra Meadow
You can access trails to this meadow from Wissahickon Environmental Center. Follow signs from the center to the meadow. Depending on the trail you choose, you may pass a massive Cucumber Magnolia or the Great Beech, the second largest tree in Philadelphia and the largest European Beech in Pennsylvania.
There is a trail that follows the edge of the meadow. From the section along Northwestern Avenue, you will have a spectacular view of the treeline with crabapples, dogwoods, and a field of native grasses in the foreground. The crabapples attract robins, cedar waxwings, flickers, and blue jays.
Trail Length: The entire loop from the environmental center through the forest and meadow is about 2 miles and would take a leisurely hour to hike.
Accessing the Trail: Parking is available at the environmental center (300 W. Northwestern Ave., 19118). The site can also be accessed via SEPTA bus routes 27 and L.
2. Forbidden Drive
This trail is wide, level, and used by hikers, bikers, dog walkers, and equestrians. It’s the busiest trail of any suggested, but a good place to start your experience in the Wissahickon. The stretch of Forbidden Drive from Bell’s Mill Road to Valley Green Inn is particularly lovely. On this stretch, you will see a covered bridge, hemlocks growing above bluffs of schist, and springs that seep from the rock cut to make Forbidden Drive.
If you are ready for a hiking challenge, you can cross the creek and take the white or orange trail back to Bell’s Mill. That return trip will take longer than walking back on Forbidden Drive.
Trail Length: This out-and-back route is 4 miles in length.
Accessing the Trail: Park at Bell’s Mill Road. To access Forbidden Drive by public transportation, you will need to walk into the park at a number of other entrances or from a side trail. The trail can be accessed via SEPTA bus routes 27 and L.
3. Haddington Woods Trail
Begin this lovely hike to see fall color right from a stop on the Market-Frankford Line! The trail passes by 63rd and Market Streets, just across from the 63rd Street “El” Station. From there it winds north along Cobbs Creek past the beautiful falls created from the ruins of a historic mill. Continue along the path until you intersect with the loop around Haddington Woods, next to the golf course.
The path looks like it ends at a fence, but there is a gate that you can lift up and walk through. The gates are here to keep out deer, but not people! This is what makes this area so special. Deer are overpopulated in our parks and diminish plant diversity. Excluding deer from certain areas allows the forest to develop and mature in a more natural way. This increases plant and animal diversity. You may spot bluebirds, fox, beaver, and wood ducks in this part of the park.
Trail length: Cobbs Creek Park has 3.7 mi of paved surface and two miles of natural surface trails.
Accessing the Trail: Exit the Market-Frankford Line at 63rd Street Station and walk north. The trail crosses near the northwest corner of 63rd and Market.
4. Houston Meadow
Houston Meadow is actually two meadows linked by a path. In autumn, you get a fantastic view of the trees across the meadows in a stunning fall color. Look around for the goldenrods and asters blooming in the fields, and the bluebirds and sparrows in the meadows.
You can access Houston Meadow from Houston Playground. Walk downhill past the hockey rink to the trailhead. Feel free to wander the trails. We recommend taking the left-hand path, which will lead you through the first meadow, a small patch of woods, and then the second meadow.
Trail Length: To hike the entire loop, be prepared to walk about 3.5 miles.
Accessing the Trail: Parking is available at Houston Playground (900 Grakyn Ln., 19128). The trail is also accessible via SEPTA routes 9 and 27.
5. Pine Road Picnic Area
Just across from Fox Chase Farm, a beautiful hiking trail begins. Along Pine Road is an old row of Sugar Maples which develop a brilliant fall color. If you cross Pine Road, there is a trail that goes along the creek, around the edge of the farm, then into Lorimer Park. This trail is perfect for scenic walking along farm fields and a forest’s edge. There is also a hard surface bike path that continues for over seven miles along Pennypack Creek.
Trail Length: The paved route is about 7 miles in length, but Pennypack Park has over 60 miles of trails.
Accessing the Trail: Pine Road picnic area has a parking lot that features the entrance to the trail. The trail can be accessed via SEPTA bus route 67 bus comes that travels along Verree Road throughout the park.