Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike

Hiking Near Philadelphia

In This Guide
  • Hiking Overview
  • Best Hikes
  • Planning a Weekend Trip
  • List of All Hikes

I spent a lot of my childhood enjoying the hiking near Philadelphia. There are not a ton of options in Philadelphia itself, but head about 30 minutes out of the city and you have a ton of options. The hiking near Philadelphia tends to be full of wildlife, lush vegetation, and have easy to follow trails.

Best Historic Hike Near Philadelphia

bowmans tower

If you want some history in your hike, check out Washington’s Crossing Historic Park. The hike takes you to Bowman’s Tower, where Washington had lookouts to spot the British in 1776. From there you go through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, and then to soldier’s graves from 1776 and a farm that was used as a field hospital.

Washington’s Crossing State Park Hike Directions

Best Locals’s Hike

Ralph Stover State Park High Rocks Hike

Popular with rock climbers and kayakers, Ralph Stover State Park otherwise is off the radar of most hikers, but not locals. The High Rocks hike takes you along the cliffs above Tohickon Creek, eventually meandering down to the creek itself. A scenic and unique hike in the heart of Bucks County.

Ralph Stover State Park High Rocks Hike Directions

Best Delaware River Hikes

Delaware Canal State Park Towpath Hike

If you’re looking for a scenic trip along the river with lots of wildlife viewing, including bald eagles, try hiking Delaware Canal State Park and the Delaware and Raritan State Park trails. There are short hikes that bring you onto a dam in the middle of the river, a hike in historic New Hope and Lambertville, and a riverside hike with great wildlife viewing and a historic mill and settlement.

Challenges When Hiking Near Philadelphia

The biggest challenges you’ll probably face on some of the more primitive hikes is poison ivy and ticks (that carry Lyme’s disease).

Learn how to identify poison ivy and wear long pants if possible. Watch this video on poison ivy oil removal to understand how it all works and how to avoid getting a rash. If you do brush up against poison ivy, showering when you get home and scrubbing with a soapy washcloth will remove the oils that cause the rash before they can take hold.

poison ivy

Ticks are another story. I was one of the first people to get Lyme’s disease in Pennsylvania (yeah!). It’s not fun. Avoid brushing against plants and tall grass, and use Deet. Spray your clothing with permethrin, which will kill ticks and lasts for several washings. After you’re done your hike, check your body for ticks. They tend to hide in the warm spots, like armpits and private parts. A good post-hike routine includes a shower with washcloth scrub, and running your clothes through the dryer to kill any bugs.

Plan a Weekend Hiking Trip

New Hope, PA is a great hub to explore the area. Only an hour or so away from New York or Philadelphia, there are restaurants, unique shopping, tourist attractions, seasonal events, and great places to stay.  Check out the New Hope Chamber site for more information. If you go to New Hope, Topeo Gallery is worth a visit. Mainly because they’re run by my family, but also because they’re awesome.

List of Hiking Near Philadelphia

All Hiking Near Philadelphia

This easy hike along the Delaware Canal State Park is full of beauty and history. While this towpath hike isn’t short, it’s dead flat and very easy. As long as you can walk for 2-3 hours, you should be fine. If you want to break the hike in half and have lunch, Stockton, NJ, at the mid-point of the hike, is a great option. Shaded paths, river views, and peace and quiet are the hallmarks of this hike, suitable for all levels of hiker.

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This unique hike to the Lambertville wing dam brings you to a stone wing dam that extends into the middle of the Delaware River, offering great views of the river, New Hope, and Lambertville. The hike follows the historic Delaware and Raritan Canal, a converted Rails to Trails area. The hike is an easy walk from Lambertville or New Hope, and highly recommended. It’s a local’s favorite.

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The Goat Hill Overlook hike is short, easy, and takes you to a lookout where George Washington once stood to survey the land around New Hope and Lambertville.  Actually, Goat Hill Overlook was used by both George Washington and British General Charles Cornwallis to view opposing forces up and down the Delaware River. Goat Hill is also known as Washington’s Rock.

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This hike from Stockton, NJ to Bulls Island State Park takes you on a loop through NJ and PA along the Delaware River Trail, following a historic rail line and offering great river and wildlife views. Don’t let the length put you off, it’s very flat and a great hike for beginners. And you can do it on a bike too if you prefer.

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This easy hike takes you to Bowman’s Tower, through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, and then ends at historic soldier graves from 1776 at Washington Crossing State Park. It’s a great hike with tons to see in a short distance.

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The High Rocks hike at Ralph Stover State Park is a local’s favorite. The High Rocks trail follows along a (fenced) 200 foot sheer rock face cliff overlooking Tohickon Creek, eventually reaching the creek itself. As you hike along High Rocks, you might notice ropes leading off the cliff edge, it’s a popular spot for climbers. And as you look down into Tohickon Creek (Lenape for “Deer-Bone-Creek”), keep your eyes open for whitewater kayakers. It’ss a popular whitewater kayaking spot when spring rains flood it. Occasionally they release water from Lake Nockamixon, another popular time for kayakers. It’s a fun hike on many levels, and offers that quintessential Bucks County scenery that people drive miles for.

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