Washington Crossing State Park Hike to Bowmans Tower

Washington Crossing State Park Hike to Bowmans Tower

Distance3 miles (4.8 km)
Time2:00 Hours (Total Time)
DifficultyEasy
Total Climbing525 feet (160m)
Dog FriendlyNo
Park NameWashington's Crossing State Park
Park Phone215-862-2924

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.

Shortly after the beginning of the hike, you’ll arrive at the iconic Bowmans Tower. It’s 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.

Bowmans Tower View
Here’s some of the views that you’ll get from Bowman’s Tower. Photo Thomas James Caldwell

From there, you’ll hike 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.

Getting to the Washington Crossing State Park Hike

Before we start, just know that there are two Washington Crossing State Parks, one in NJ and one in PA. And the one in Pennsylvania has multiple sites that are miles away from each other. So don’t just put Washington Crossing State Park into your GPS; you might end up in a number of places.

Use this trailhead address: 1625 River Rd, New Hope, PA, 18938, USA.

The parking lot outlined in these directions 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.

bowmans tower hike parking map
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.

There are bathrooms at the midway point in the Bowmans Hill Wildflower Preserve visitor’s center.

Gear for the Hike

You don’t need any special hiking gear for this adventure, you can probably get away with fitness clothes and good footwear if you had to. If you do have sturdier gear, it’s worth using it. Here’s what I would recommend:

My Top Gear Picks

Garmin inreach review

Do you have the right hiking gear? Will it stand up to the test? I waste lots of money testing hiking gear every year so that you don’t have to. My gear picks are solid choices that will serve you well on the trail. I don’t do sponsored or paid reviews, I just the share actual gear that I use all the time that’s made the cut. Here are my top picks:

  1. Garmin InReach Mini Emergency Beacon – Hiking out of cell phone range? Make sure you have one of these two-way satellite texting devices in case your hike doesn’t go as planned. You can read my full review here.
  2. Injinji Sock Liners With Darn Tough Hiking Socks – This combo is a great way to avoid blisters out on the trail. I have some insider-hiking tips for avoiding blisters here. Pair them with modern, high-tech hiking boots (for women and men) and your feet with thank you.
  3. Garmin Fenix 5x Plus – It’s a little pricey, but man do I love this thing. Not only does it have all the topo maps and navigation tools on my wrist, but it also acts as a long battery life, rugged, outdoors version of an Apple Watch. Track your workouts, sleep, heart rate, all that stuff.

I have lots of other great, sponsor-free, trail tested gear picks on my “best gear” page.

See My Full Gear List

Washington Crossing State Park Hike to Bowmans Tower Trail Maps

Fenix 5x Hiking Review

I highly recommend bringing a good paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x Plus and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.

Many people also print out this web page for the turn-by-turn images. And if you really want to get tricky, YouTube Premium lets you download videos for offline use, so you can download the hike video and save it.

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

bowmans tower hike 3d map
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.
bowmans tower hike elevation
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.

Washington Crossing State Park Hike to Bowmans Tower Hike Directions

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Turn by Turn Directions

This is a seasonal hike and the directions can look a bit different depending on the time of year.

bowmans tower hike parking
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.
bowmans tower hike trailhead
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.
bowmans tower hike 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.
bowmans tower hike trail junction
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.
bowmans tower hike cairn
Look on the ground for a small cairn.
bowmans tower hike blaze
There’s also a worn blaze on the tree. Head up here.
bowmans tower hike climb
Now you head uphill toward Bowman’s Tower.
bowmans tower hike climb
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.
bowmans tower
Eventually Bowman’s Tower will come into view, that’s where you’re going.
bowmans tower shed
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.
bowmans 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.
bowmans tower parking
After you’ve seen the tower, head to the parking lot for the tower and stay right.
bowmans tower road
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).
bowmans tower hike ruins
As you go down the road, there are some old ruins to check out.
bowmans tower hike historic marker
Keep your eyes open for historic markers too.
bowmans tower trail
The trail remains paved and makes it’s way downhill.
bowmans tower trail
The road splits. Stay on the trail to the right.
bowmans tower trail
The trail is well marked and goes down the hill.
 Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve gate
Eventually you’ll reach the entrance to Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
 Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve gate
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.

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve route map
This is the route through Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve that I recommend.
Medicinal Trail
After passing the gate and hiking for a few minutes, make the hard left onto the Medicinal Trail.
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.
Medicinal Trail sign
Hopefully there will be a sign when you visit, but if not, look for this marker scratched into a log.
deer fence
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.
signs identifying plants
Keep your eyes open for signs identifying plants.
cris hazzard on bowmans tower trail
The trail crosses the creek. Hi everyone! It’s a selfie!
Fern Trail
When the Medicinal Trail ends at the road, cross over and pick up the Fern Trail to the slight left.
Fern Trail sign
There’s a sign for the start of the Fern Trail.
fern trail sign
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.
 Fern Trail follows the shores of Pidcock Creek.
Eventually the Fern Trail will follow the shores of Pidcock Creek.
 Fern Trail comes close to the road
The Fern Trail comes close to the road. Stay right and follow the creek.
creek bridge
That’s the bridge you’ll be crossing. Keep your eyes open in the creek. There are bass and perch.
bowmans tower trail
When the trail reaches the road, make the right and cross the bridge.
bowmans tower hike
Immediately after the crossing, take the trail to the right and head up the stairs.
log cabin on bowmans tower hike
There’s a cool log cabin at the top of the stairs.
Azalea Trail
Get on the Azalea Trail and keep hiking.

 

Azalea Trail goes to creek
Head down the stairs to the right and start following the creek.
Parry Trail
After the dam, take the left on the Parry Trail and head up the stairs to the visitor’s center.
plant sale
The Preserve sells native plants. Walk through the sale area to the visitor’s center.
bowmans hill wildflower preserve visitors center
Head into the visitor’s center. There are bathrooms here too.
bowmans hill wildflower preserve visitors center
There is a good store and info center here, including a list of flowers in bloom. Pay your entrance fee here.
bowmans hill wildflower preserve visitors center sticker
You’ll get a sticker after you pay.
bowmans tower road
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.
bowmans tower gate
The road exits the protected preserve. The grates on the ground are to keep deer hooves out. Head out through the gate.
bowmans tower trail
Look for the path to the bathrooms on the right. Head behind the building with bathrooms.
bowmans tower trail
When you get behind the bathrooms, look for the trail heading into the woods. It’ll head back toward the preserve, that’s okay.
bowmans tower hike
The trail is obvious but narrow.
bowmans tower hike goes left
The trail comes to a junction. Make the hard left to head back toward the road.
old mill
The trail will head to the old mill. Continue on it.
bowmans tower hike goes under bridge
Read about the mill and then head under the bridge along the creek.
fence under bridge
Follow the fence under the bridge.
big lawn in Washington Crossing State Park
When you come out from the bridge, walk across the big lawn. You’re now in Washington Crossing State Park.
paved path in Washington Crossing State Park
When you get to the paved path, make the right.
paved path in Washington Crossing State Park
Head down the paved path to the canal.
Delaware Canal State Park
Cross the bridge on the Delaware Canal State Park. Lots of parks on this hike.
Delaware Canal State Park towpath
Right after crossing, make the right onto the Delaware Canal State Park towpath.
Pidcock Creek
On your right you’ll see where Pidcock Creek joins the Delaware Canal. This is the same creek you hiked along earlier.
Delaware Canal State Park towpath
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.
solider's graves
You’ll come to a big pavilion, head inside to see the solider’s graves.
solider's graves
It’s interesting to read the grave stones, many of which date to 1776.
towpath
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.
canal bridge
At the next bridge, head up to the road and back over the canal.
Thompson-Neely House & Farmstead
You’ll come to the fields by the Thompson-Neely House & Farmstead. Watch for sheep in the field.
Thompson-Neely House & Farmstead
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.
Thompson-Neely House & Farmstead gate
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.

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