The Best Leaf-Peeping Hikes Near Philadelphia

Trek through vibrant leaves and take in the crisp fall air.

It’s time to find your favorite flannel, lace up your hiking boots, and take to the trails. Autumn has arrived in Philadelphia, which means plenty of festivals, tons of football, and, when you’re tired of those things, getting out of the city to soak in the changing leaves.

Whether you want to get away for an afternoon or spend the whole weekend camping, the city is just a short drive from plenty of gorgeous towns and history-rich hiking trails that can help you make the most out of leaf-peeping season. So check out 10 of the best Philly-area destinations for hikes amid the fall foliage.

You don’t have to go far at all to discover 10 miles of trails, waterways, and wildlife at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. Just off I-95 by Philadelphia International Airport is this urban refuge featuring beginner-friendly flat trails, marshes, and even some distant views of the Philly skyline. Trails are lined with the changing trees, the perfect backdrop for spotting some of the reserve’s wildlife, including the bald eagle and great blue heron.
Distance from Center City: 20 minutes


This leafy oasis is a Philly favorite, home to more than 2,000 acres throughout Northwest Philadelphia. There are dozens of trails available for various difficulty and skill levels, most notably the wide gravel-and-asphalt walkway of Forbidden Drive (7 miles) that’s canopied by trees. For something a little more hilly, try the Lavender Trail (about 1.5 miles) and keep your eyes out for the oak trees and owls along the way. The land itself has a very storied history, once home to the Lenape people and then host to Revolutionary War skirmishes. You’ll find dozens of historical markers along the way, and maybe even some ghost stories—which are always more exciting this time of year.
Distance from Center City: 30 minutes

Haverford College
Haverford College

Get a taste of idyllic collegiate life with the Haverford College Nature Trail, just a few miles outside of the city and accessible by train. Situated around the perimeter of the college, the 2.2-mile trail features paved walkways as well as natural passages of mostly easy, flat land with a few moments of incline. While it’s gorgeous any time of year, it’s particularly enchanting to see the campus in the fall, with foliage positioned against the architecture. Don’t forget to stop at the duck pond, featuring an old school ice-skating shack from 1941.
Distance from Center City: 35 minutes


Historically, Valley Forge is best known for its Revolutionary War encampment, including Washington’s Headquarters, where the first US president lived from 1777 to 1778. Today you can still soak in the history lesson and see the original dwellings, and there’s even more natural phenomenon to discover on the ground among Valley Forge’s nearly 20 miles of designated hiking trails. Try the Mount Misery Trail for a moderate challenge that stretches about a mile and will have you enveloped in changing leaves, all leading to charming footbridge over a ravine.
Distance from Center City: 35 minutes

Tyler Arboretum
Tyler Arboretum

Hikers and nonhikers alike can find a lot to love at Tyler Arboretum. In addition to trails throughout its more than 500 acres, the arboretum is known for vivid wildflowers, birding, wildlife, Painter trees, and a 160-year history. The Tyler Arboretum Loop clocks in at 5.4 miles, starting and ending in the main parking area. Along the way you’ll come across the Thoreau’s “Walden” Cabin Replica, just in case you wanted to get extra in tune with nature. In the fall, you’ll find the gorgeous orange hues of ginkgo trees, as well as dogwoods and maples, while the arboretum’s meadow grasses, asters, and goldenrod are another seasonal highlight.
Distance from Center City: 40 minutes


This Delco destination is all about rolling hills, wooded trails, and a truly immersive experience when it comes to fall foliage. The park offers 13 trails along 2,600 acres and is peppered with historic landmarks—the park even registered as a National Historic Landmark. As you wander around you may stumble across the Hunting Hill Mansion, a 1915 addition to an original stone farmhouse circa 1789, and Sycamore Mills, a mill village dating back to the 18th Century. The Sycamore Mills Road Trail, at about 4.3 miles, is an approachable loop trail that highlights some of the park’s best views.
Distance from Center City: 45 minutes

Flickr/Art G.

In history class you may remember learning about George Washington crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776. Today you can visit that site—aptly titled Washington Crossing—and soak in the autumnal ambiance straddling the NJ-PA state line. This piece of the 70-mile Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park sits by the cute river towns of New Hope, Pennsylvania and Lambertville, New Jersey, and features 13 miles of moderate hiking trails. Try the 2.7-mile Blue Dot Trail, the longest trail in the park, where you’ll spot the Open Air Theater, a stream, and plenty of red cedar.
Distance from Center City: 45 minutes

Flickr/Art G.

Travel to this Bucks County park that features Neshaminy Creek throughout, beautifully dividing the 1,711-acre destination into different sections. Another big draw unique to Bucks County? Covered bridges. Tyler State Park features one of them, Schofield Covered Bridge, which feels even more quaint and cozy in the changing colors of fall. Try the Covered Bridge Trail for an easy 1.1-mile option that includes some steep climbs, ending with a hilltop view. You can also go for the more difficult Hay Barn Grass Trail, clocking in at 4.5 miles and featuring the park’s original farmhouses and barns.
Distance from Center City: 50 minutes


While this Insta-worthy forest has more than 20 miles of trails to discover, the Mt. Tammany trail is a must, offering stunning views of the Delaware Water Gap. Joined with the Pahaquarry Trail, it makes for one of the most difficult hikes of the Delaware Water Gap, clocking in at a three-mile loop. Those well-earned views are even better framed with the changing colors of autumn. If you want to make your visit a little longer, there’s plenty of on-site camping options along two miles of river frontage.
Distance from Center City: 2 hours

Flickr/Peter M Graham

If you’re ready to commit to a true autumn excursion, make the journey up to Pine Creek Gorge, known as “Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon.” There you’ll find the 585-acre Leonard Harrison Park at its most beautiful time of year. The one-mile Turkey Trail Path leads you to the bottom of the gorge, featuring vibrant hardwood tree hues. If you’re in the mood for a little education after your hike, visit the center at the Leonard Harrison main overlook to learn more about the area’s wildlife, lumber heritage, canyon formation, or even arrange a group tour.
Distance from Center City: 4.5 hours

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Marielle Mondon is a writer from Philadelphia. Follow her @MarielleMondon on Twitter and Instagram.