- Home - Hiking Trails - Hiking Near Philadelphia Washington Crossing State Park Hike to Bowmans Tower
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.
3 miles (4.8 km)
Unmarked and marked
Climb to tower, poison ivy
Historic Sites, wildflowers
Bowman's Hill Tower Hike Trail Maps
Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
1625 River Rd, New Hope, PA, 18938, USA
The Bowman's Tower hike is about 1 hour north of Philadelphia and 90 minutes south of New York City.
The hike is pretty wooded. You go up from River Road to Bowman's Tower, then down into Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, and then into the historic part of Washington's Crossing State Park.
There's a steep climb to Bowman's Hill Tower in the beginning, but it's not too bad if you just take your time. After that it's all pretty much downhill.
Interactive Map Bowman's Hill Tower Hike Map Downloads
If you have GPS device (
I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.
Also, don’t rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There’s a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up
a good topo map too. Gear for the Bowman's Hill Tower Hike The best hydration daypack out there. The CamelBak Fourteener has been perfect on hikes of all distances (including Mt Whitney and Cactus to Clouds). It's light, has plenty of room for super-food snacks, extra layers, hiking gear, and comes with a 3 liter water bladder. I also like the raised sweat pads on the back that keep your back dry. It's the perfect blend of high-tech, durability, and simplicity. I've got hundreds of hours on it and still love it. CamelBak Fourteener Reviews My favorite hiking boot of all time. The La Sportiva Synthesis (for men and women) are waterproof, super-light, have incredible grip, and won a Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice Award ( my review here). I've gone through a lot of boots and these are my favorite. They feel like comfortable sneakers with the protection of hiking boots. La Sportiva Hiking Boot Reviews Don't hike without this in your backpack. It's a GPS emergency beacon and can save your life ( more on that here). On the trail, you're often out of cell phone range, and even something as simple as a twisted ankle could become a life and death situation. This beacon works where cell phones don't and is the size of a fist. Just press a button and help is on the way. Your life is worth every penny. ACR GPS Beacon Reviews Also, I'd recommend just taking a look around the Gear is dirt cheap there, including day-to-day clothing, fitness gear, and camping gear. And don't forget to get a lifetime REI Outlet. REI Membership for an extra 10% off. Bowman's Hill Tower Hike Video Bowman's Hill Tower Hike Directions What to Expect This hike is safe and easy, but you need to keep an eye open for poison ivy. This is a seasonal hike and the directions can look a bit different depending on the time of year. You can go up in Bowmans Tower. Bowmans Tower is 125 high, and on a clear day you can see 14 miles around the Delaware River valley. The tower was built in 1930 to mark a spot where General Washington had a lookout. It’s generally open from 10am-4pm every day, but call the park to double check. After the tower, the hike takes you through Bowmans Hill Wildflower Preserve. The Preserve has over 800 varieties of wildflowers and some scenic trails and visitor’s center. There’s a small fee that you pay when you get to the visitor’s center. The last part of the hike goes through Washington Crossing State Park’s upper region. Highlights include a visit to solider’s graves, many of which date to 1776 when Washington crossed the Delaware, and the Thompson-Neely House and farm, which served as a hospital for wounded soldiers in 1776 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The parking lot outlined in the directions below is free. If it’s full, you can go just north on River Road and either park in the lots at Washington Crossing State Park or Bowmans Hill Wildflower Preserve. Both have fees. The hike goes through both these areas, so you can either walk to the start, or just pick the hike up from the spot where you are. Turn by Turn Directions The free parking lot is just south of the Pidcock Creek bridge on River Road (on the east side). The Google trailhead address is not precise (the lot doesn’t have a street number), so go slow and keep your eyes open. Here’s an overview of the parking areas. If the free lot is full, you can pay to park at Washington Crossing State Park or Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. All a short walk from the trailhead. If you do walk to the trailhead, be careful on River Road. It’s busy and the shoulders aren’t wide. The first part of the hike is the least marked. Across the street from the parking lot you’ll see a small trail to the left of a fence. Head up this trail. Once you get off the road, the trail becomes more defined and follows the fence up a gentle hill. This fence keeps the deer out of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, which is on the other side of the fence. Okay, this is the trickiest part. After about 0.2 miles, there is a hard to spot turn off to the left. You can see some wear on the ground here. Keep reading to see the other clues. Look on the ground for a small cairn. There’s also a worn blaze on the tree. Head up here. Now you head uphill toward Bowman’s Tower. The trail is small, ill-defined, and splits apart a lot. If you loose it, just keep heading straight up and you’ll get to where you need to. The climb isn’t long, so you wan’t get “lost lost” here. Eventually Bowman’s Tower will come into view, that’s where you’re going. If you’re here when it’s open, this little shed is where you go to get the tour and go up in the tower. Bowman’s Tower is impressive. If you go to the top, you’ll be able to see New Hope, Lambertville, and the Delaware River valley. In the winter when the trees are bare, you’ll be able to get a view without going up the tower. After you’ve seen the tower, head to the parking lot for the tower and stay right. The road splits in the parking lot. Head onto the road on the right. There are also porta-potties up here, but may be locked (more bathrooms ahead on the hike). As you go down the road, there are some old ruins to check out. Keep your eyes open for historic markers too. The trail remains paved and makes it’s way downhill. The road splits. Stay on the trail to the right. The trail is well marked and goes down the hill. Eventually you’ll reach the entrance to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. Head through the entrance and make sure you close the gate so no deer get in.
Once you’re in Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, you have some options. Below is the route I recommend, but you can really choose your own if there’s something specific that you want to see. Just make sure you end up at the exit on the map below to continue the hike. The trails are all pretty well marked and the area is small, so it’s hard to get lost on this hike.
This is the route through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve that I recommend. After passing the gate and hiking for a few minutes, make the hard left onto the Medicinal Trail. The Medicinal Trail is tricky to spot coming from the gate, but once you turn to see it, it’s an obvious path. Hopefully there will be a sign when you visit, but if not, look for this marker scratched into a log. The trail is easy to follow and goes along the stream. That big net in the distance is to keep deer from sneaking in on the creek. Keep your eyes open for signs identifying plants. The trail crosses the creek. Hi everyone! It’s a selfie! When the Medicinal Trail ends at the road, cross over and pick up the Fern Trail to the slight left. There’s a sign for the start of the Fern Trail. The Fern Trail is well marked but there a few side trails that split off. Look for markers. If in doubt, head toward the larger Pidcock creek. Eventually the Fern Trail will follow the shores of Pidcock Creek. The Fern Trail comes close to the road. Stay right and follow the creek. That’s the bridge you’ll be crossing. Keep your eyes open in the creek. There are bass and perch. When the trail reaches the road, make the right and cross the bridge. Immediately after the crossing, take the trail to the right and head up the stairs. There’s a cool log cabin at the top of the stairs. Get on the Azalea Trail and keep hiking.
Head down the stairs to the right and start following the creek. After the dam, take the left on the Parry Trail and head up the stairs to the visitor’s center. The Preserve sells native plants. Walk through the sale area to the visitor’s center. Head into the visitor’s center. There are bathrooms here too. There is a good store and info center here, including a list of flowers in bloom. Pay your entrance fee here. You’ll get a sticker after you pay. After you’re done visiting, head to the road in front of the visitor’s center and make the right to continue down the road. The road exits the protected preserve. The grates on the ground are to keep deer hooves out. Head out through the gate. Look for the path to the bathrooms on the right. Head behind the building with bathrooms. When you get behind the bathrooms, look for the trail heading into the woods. It’ll head back toward the preserve, that’s okay. The trail is obvious but narrow. The trail comes to a junction. Make the hard left to head back toward the road. The trail will head to the old mill. Continue on it. Read about the mill and then head under the bridge along the creek. Follow the fence under the bridge. When you come out from the bridge, walk across the big lawn. You’re now in Washington Crossing State Park. When you get to the paved path, make the right. Head down the paved path to the canal. Cross the bridge on the Delaware Canal State Park. Lots of parks on this hike. Right after crossing, make the right onto the Delaware Canal State Park towpath. On your right you’ll see where Pidcock Creek joins the Delaware Canal. This is the same creek you hiked along earlier. After walking down the towpath for a few minutes, you’ll notice a turn-off to the left. Head down this path to the soldier’s graves. You’ll come to a big pavilion, head inside to see the solider’s graves. It’s interesting to read the grave stones, many of which date to 1776. When you’re ready to continue, head back to the bridge you came over on, but instead of crossing it, head underneath it on the towpath and continue. At the next bridge, head up to the road and back over the canal. You’ll come to the fields by the Thompson-Neely House & Farmstead. Watch for sheep in the field. The Thompson-Neely House & Farmstead served as an army hospital during Washington’s winter campaign of 1776. The original house was built in 1740. Have a look around and continue down the path in the middle. On the other side of the Thompson-Neely House is a gate that leads onto River Road. Head through the gate, over the Pidcock Creek bridge, and you’ll be back at the parking lot. A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.
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I’m Hiking Guy, aka Cris Hazzard. I like to get outdoors, walk, and then write about it. It wasn’t always like that though.
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