philadelphia Archives - Urban Outdoors



While many peoples’ minds immediately jump to eating one of Philadelphia’s delicious cheesesteaks, there is in fact another way to enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer: by kayaking! A day spent kayaking in Philadelphia covers both urban paddling with views of the Philadelphia skyline and waterways that are surrounded by lush trees and forests. Best of all, most of your adventures kayaking in Philadelphia are free of entrance fees (and rentals can be found at very affordable rates).

With so many awesome places to choose from, picking the best places to kayak in and around Philadelphia can be challenging. Below is our complete guide to the most scenic places to kayak in Philadelphia. From quiet creeks to Class II rapids, any outdoor lover must experience paddling around Philadelphia!

Best Places to Go Canoeing and Kayaking In & Around Philadelphia

Kayaking in Philadelphia is an amazing way to explore the city's natural beauty and get outdoors!
Kayaking in Philadelphia is a great way to explore the city’s natural beauty and get outdoors! Photo Credit: David Clow (Flickr CC)

Schuylkill Banks

This 8 mile stretch of river runs straight through the heart of Philidelphia. For an urban kayaking experience that still features beautiful scenery, head out to Schuylkill Banks!

Beginning at Walnut Street Dock, paddlers can launch their boats and cruise down calm waters. Industrial views and the Philadelphia skyline dominate the backdrop when first paddling, but it becomes more lush with greenery as you continue on. Schuylkill Banks’ convenient location and calm waters make it a great spot for beginners or those looking to get in a quick paddle this summer.

Kayaking in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River truly brings an urban setting outdoors. Bonus- you can kayak in the late-afternoon and get back in time for a free movie screening on Schuylkill Banks (with free snacks)!

You can launch your own boat from Walnut Street Dock or Fairmont Water Works for free. Or, on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, Hidden River Outfitters offers tours of the river with exclusive river routes.

How to Get There: If driving, head towards S 25th St from Lombard st. This will take you to Locust point, where you can park your car and head down to the riverbank. If not driving, the Market Frankford Line of SEPTA Regional Rail will take you here.

Wissahickon Creek

With over 50 miles of rugged terrain trails and free-flowing streams, kayaking in Wissahickon Valley Park is not your average flat water experience.

Located within the park, Wissahickon Creek is 7 miles in total and ranges in depth and rapids. Kayaking here is a complete escape from busy downtown Philadelphia. Dense forests and wildflowers make Wissahickon Creek a beautiful outdoor oasis. While paddling along the rocky tree-lines shores, make sure to look out for shallow areas!

Visitors also enjoy touring historic sites in the park like Philadelphia’s last standing covered bridge and the Valley Green Inn. Between the park’s beautiful natural landscape and history, kayaking Wissahickon Creek is perfect for any age and ability.

The Philadelphia Canoe Club is an active paddling community that offers canoe, kayak, and white water rafting trips down Wissahickon Creek. Besides renting gear, joining this great community of outdoor enthusiasts is a wonderful place to meet others with a shared love for kayaking in Philadelphia.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-76 W and take exit 331B toward Plymouth Mtg. Then, head toward State Route 3005 until the creek. If not driving, there is transit from 30th Street Station that drops you 0.5 miles from the creek.

Glistening waters of Core Creek Park invites cancers and kayakers for a paddle!
The pond at Core Creek Park is a beautiful place for kayaking in Philadelphia this Summer! Photo Credit: Chris Ronin (Flickr CC)

Cedar Creek

An ecological masterpiece, paddling along Cedar Creek showcases the unique beauty of cedar forests, bogs, marshes and more!

From the minute you arrive you’ll notice how special kayaking on Cedar Creek really is. Its unique tea-colored water is a result of the cedar tree roots of forests that line the shores. Cedar Creek itself is best suited for paddlers with some experience; there is a current that definitely aids you in paddling if going downstream.

Paddling Cedar Creek can be a full weekend trip; luxury campgrounds sit on the shores ready for you after you are done kayaking. Between the cranberry bogs adjacent to the creek and marshes that host diverse wildlife, Cedar Creek must be on your kayaking list this summer.

Cedar Creek Campground rents out campgrounds and canoe/kayak gear. They will even drop it off where you wish to begin your trip! Or, feel free to launch your own boat at the docks near the swimming area.

How to Get There: If driving, start on US-30 E and take the ramp to NJ–70 E. Turn right onto Warren Grove Whiting Rd and continue through Lacey Rd until a right turn onto Atlantic City Blvd. Turn right onto Harbor Inn Rd. Driving is the best way to get here! If you need to rent a car, Avis has you covered.

Kayaking in Philadelphia can have an urban setting ion the Schuylkill Banks- an easy way to get outdoors!
Kayaking along Schuylkill Banks gives the best skyline views and an urban feel. Photo Credit: Montgomery County Planning (Flickr CC)

Marsh Creek State Park

Marsh Creek Lake is your classic flat water lake with beautiful tree-lined coasts and sandy beaches. With blue skies and calm waters, Marsh Creek Lake is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon kayaking in Philadelphia.

Besides the gorgeous scenery, Marsh Creek Lake is known for their Night Tours. Offered every other Friday, seasoned tour guides provide vibrant glow sticks to help you navigate around the lake and experience it under the stars!

If you’re looking for a quiet getaway, Marsh Creek Lake is a perfect place to start. In addition to kayak and paddle board rentals, Marsh Creek Lake also has lessons and can host parties. Rentals are available at West Launch Boat Rentals. Or, feel free to launch your own boat too!

How to Get There: If driving, take I-76 W toward Harrisburg, then take PA-100 N to Park Rd. Turn left and continue to the lake. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale Line to Downington.

Penn’s Landing

Located near Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Hilton Penn’s Landing, kayaking Penn’s Landing is certain to be a unique way to see the city! You can kayak, paddleboat, or even rent rowboats to explore the Delaware River’s beachfront.

Kayaking Penn’s Landing is a great outdoor activity for kids and families living in Philadelphia. The Penn’s Landing paddle area is in a safe harbor where you are free to paddle and float to your heart’s content. Since Penn’s Landing recently added kayaking to its waterfront, it is in high demand. Kayaking here is best suited for kids and those looking to see some of Philadelphia’s history (not a long, scenic paddle).

Paddling at Penn’s Landing is sponsored by Independence Seaport Museum. The museum’s Workshop on the Water offers outdoors classes and rents kayaks. If you already have a boat, feel free to explore the harbor on your own!

How to Get There: If driving, head east on Chestnut St. over the freeway to get to Penn’s Landing on the Delaware river. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA MFL Line toward Frankfort to 2nd Station which is near Penn’s Landing.

Sailboats, boats, canoes, and kayaks take the water at Nockamixon State Park! Visitors enjoy paddling around the tree-lined coasts.
There are numerous ways to enjoy the waters of Nockamixon State Park! Photo Credit: (FlickrCC)

Nockamixon State Park

Nockamixon State Park may be one of the most treasured places in Pennsylvania. Close enough for a day trip, kayaking in Philadelphia’s Nockamixon State Park is absolutely breathtaking come Spring, Summer, or Fall.

With over 1,000 acres of waterfront property, you can do some serious kayaking on Nockamixon Lake. Full of fish, this is the perfect spot for fishing and taking a luxurious paddle along the forested coastline.

Dedicated to outdoor education and environmental conservation, Nockamixon State Park has tons of classes for people of all ages looking to learn more about nature and the park itself during your visit.

In total, the lake has six public launch sites, but Three Mile Run and Haycock launch ramps are best suited for kayaks and canoes. If not launching your own boat, feel free to rent gear from Nockamixon Boat Rental.

How to Get There: If driving, take N Broad St north and turn left onto Fort Washington Expy. Then, turn right onto Hilltown Pike and continue onto Blooming Glen Rd/Minsi Trail. Continue on PA-313 W, and then turn right and take PA-563 N to the park. If not driving, there is a bus once daily to Quakertown by Fullington Railways. Or, you can rent a car from Avis.

Core Creek Park

The small lake located in Core Creek Park is the perfect way to ease into kayaking this Summer. Between the flat water, hiking and picnic areas, you’ll never want to leave!

Core Creek Park’s waterfront access to Lake Luxembourg makes the transition from land to water super easy. A leisurely paddle around the lake doesn’t take too long, and is a great place to work on your paddle skills.

More experienced paddlers love Core Creek Park’s Moonlight Paddle Tours which explores the lake under the stars. Whether you are a newbie looking for a quiet place to practice or a seasoned paddle looking to kayak in a new environment, Lake Luxembourg can do it all.

You can launch your own boat or you can rent kayaks at the park from Core Creek Boat Rental.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-95 N toward Trenton, then take exit 3 towards US-1 Business N and turn left onto Woodbourne Rd. Continue here to the park. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA West Trenton Line to Langhorne (Core Creek Park).

Kayaking down the Delaware River is a great outdoor activity for the whole family! Kayaking in Philadelphia is a must-do activity this summer!
Kayaking down the Delaware River is a great activity for the whole family! Photo Credit: Stephen Harris (Flickr CC)

Delaware River

Separating Pennsylvania from New Jersey, the Delaware River is a diverse flat water river with excellent wildlife and campgrounds along the way.

Accessing this beautiful natural waterway is super easy- there are put-ins along routes 80, 84, 6, 206, 209 and 521. Once on the water, paddlers of all abilities can cruise down long stretches of the river and make camp along the way.

Kayaking along the Delaware River is a great choice for kayakers looking for long stretches of uninterrupted water and trips that can last up to a few days. While paddling, you may even spot wild turkeys, bears, and elk!

Bonus: Besides canoeing and kayaking, the Delaware River has the perfect conditions for tubing. Floating down the river on a sunny day is like having your own lazy river. Twin River Tubing has everything you need to make your journey awesome.

You can launch your own boat at any of the access points along the highway for free. Or, you can rent from Adventure Sports. Spots like the Delaware River make kayaking in Philadelphia an absolute epic time!

How to Get There: If driving, put-ins are located along highway routes 80, 84, 6, 206, 209 and 521. The best way to access the water is through these sites. If you need to rent a car, Avis has you covered.

Darby Creek

  • Location: Southeastern Philadelphia
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at Ridley Marina

A small place with huge opportunities, Darby Creek is home to scenic water trails and some of the most treasured historical landmarks in Pennsylvania.

Darby Creek is a wonderful place for all abilities. The creek itself is great for beginners and its larger tributaries provide more challenging water for intermediate paddlers. Flowing in and out of the Delaware River, Darby Creek is a peaceful spot for kayak enthusiasts to gather and explore Philadelphia’s natural beauty.

After a day of paddling through lush forests, visitors can tour the Swedish Cabin built in the 1650s and the Blue Bell Inn, built in the 1760s. Members of the Darby Creek Watershed work hard to preserve these pieces of American history for visitors to enjoy. Darby Creek also runs through John Heinz Wildlife Refuge– the first wildlife refuge established in America!

Clearly, there is no shortage of places to explore around Darby Creek. You can launch your own boat at the watershed. Or, you can rent gear from the Ridley Marina located next to the park.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-95 S, then take exit 8 onto Stewart Ave and turn right. Turn right again on Chester Pike and finally, turn right onto S Swarthmore ave and continue to the creek. If not driving, you can take the SEPTA Line 11 Tram to Darby Creek Transportation Center.

The scenic Batsto River is a wonderful place to challenge your kayak skills in NJ.
Batsto River in Wharton State Forest is a scenic and challenging paddle! Photo Credit: Hammonton Photography (Flickr CC)

Brandywine River

Brandywine River Valley is a beautiful landscape with sloping hills and gorgeous greenery. The meandering river’s gentle flow makes it a wonderful spot for first-time paddlers and large groups.

Wilderness Canoe Trips is the prime outfitter for canoeing and kayaking down the Brandywine River. They have courses for 1.5, 6, and 12 mile paddles, and will help you get started on your water adventure (not a guided tour).

Visitors also love coming to Brandywine for its American history. In addition to some of the most scenic kayaking in PA, paddlers can watch Civil War Reenactments and tour the town’s historical landmarks.

Although it is a bit far from downtown Philadelphia, kayaking down Brandywine River is the ideal paddle experience. With beautiful nature on all sides, this can be the peaceful escape you were looking for. You can launch your own boat from the Wilderness Canoe Trips waterfront access and rent gear from them too.

How to Get There: If driving, start on I-95 S and take exit 8 for Rte 202 N. Immediately take the next exit onto Powder Mill Rd heading west. Then, take the next left onto W Park Dr and turn immediately right onto Rockland Rd. This road will take you all the way up onto Brandywine Creek State Park. The best way to get here is by car. If you need to rent a car, check out Avis.

Wharton State Forest

The Batsto River located in Wharton State Forest is an awesome place to go canoeing and kayaking near Philadelphia. Open glades and forests surround the river, which also has an abundance of wildlife.

There are tons of guided tours for the Batsto River, but if you want to explore on your own, almost every tour launches from Quaker Bridge. From there, the river has many sections. As you paddle, you will go through narrow, twisted streams, swamps, ponds, and finally end up at at Batsto Lake.

Due to the rugged terrain and flux in water, kayaking the Batsto River is best suited for intermediate and experienced paddlers. Paddlers really looking for an outback experience should camp at Lower Forge Campground. It is notorious for its “primitive” setting. Remember to bring your own water!

Like mentioned above, you can launch your own boat from Quaker Bridge or Hampton Furnance. Or, take a guided tour and rent gear from Mick’s Canoe & Kayak Rental.

How to Get There: If driving, take I-676 S and continue south on the Atlantic City Expy. Take exit 28 and turn left on 12th St. Then, turn right onto Central Ave and continue onto Pleasant Mills Rd (NJ 542). This road will take you to nearby Batsto Village. Driving is the best way to get here. If you need to rent a car, Avis has you covered.

A kayak floats down one of the many rivers in  PA- kayaking in Philadelphia is always a beautiful and exciting outdoor activity!
Kayaking in Philadelphia is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors! Photo Credit: Jim Mullhaupt (Flickr CC)

Additional Resources

What to Pack for Kayaking in Philadelphia

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare men’s and women’s styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun off of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with you to ward off any pests and sunburns.

For a more complete packing list, check out our ultimate kayaking packing list to help you prepare for all of your outdoor kayak adventures. These essentials will make your time kayaking and canoeing an unforgettable experience!

Related Links to Kayaking in Philadelphia

While Philadelphia may be known for its historic sites and cheese steaks, it’s also a fantastic place to be if you’re looking for outdoor activities. In addition to beautiful mountains nearby (perfect for skiing/snowboarding or camping!), there are also several urban green spaces and trails that are great places to get some fresh air without leaving the city. Hiking near Philadelphia is quite easy because of the abundance of national and state parks – it’s one of our favorite things to do around the city. To help you out, we wrote this guide with 17 of the most scenic and accessible hikes near Philadelphia so you can plan your next adventure!

Know before you go: Philadelphia locals are lucky to have access to trails that range from leisurely strolls to challenging, technical trails. With that said, it’s important to have the right hiking gear as you get out and explore the wilderness. For many of the moderate to challenging hikes on our list, we recommend wearing breathable hiking clothes and waterproof hiking boots, and packing a set of collapsible trekking poles in case you need extra support on steep trails. And don’t forget a copy of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Philadelphia for more light outdoor reading!

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

Photo Credit: Michael Stokes (Flickr CC)

Easy Hiking near Philadelphia

Schuylkill River Trail

  • Trail Distance: 70+ miles total, 140 miles planned
  • Location: Spans from downtown Philadelphia to Landingville, PA

As the city’s most popular walking, running, and biking trail, the Schuylkill River Trail is a fantastic place to go hiking in Philadelphia. This planned urban pathway is set to extend a whopping 140 miles, although right now only about 70 miles are accessible. Starting in downtown Philadelphia, this trail winds across beautiful bridges with beautiful skyline views, as well as forests and more nature-infused areas. It’s a great trail to head to with families and dogs, or on your own to enjoy some fresh air in the heart of the city.

Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop Trail

If you’re looking for a trail that’s close to home but still filled with nature, the Wissahickon Creek Gorge Loop Trail is a great half- or full-day adventure for hikers of all levels. This 9.2-mile trail extends largely through dirt and rock pathways, passing by several of the historic sites and bridges in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. The trails also pass by a scenic waterfall and is mostly shaded, perfect for summertime strolls or mid-afternoon adventures.

Ringing Rocks Trail

  • Trail Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Location: Ringing Rocks County Park

Before you scoff at the short distance of the Ringing Rocks Trail, hear us out: this is arguably one of the coolest hikes near Philadelphia. No, not for the trail itself or the tough workout, but because the rock field at the end is covered in rocks that literally sing when hit. Be sure to bring a metal baseball bat or hammer with you to experience the magic of these musical stones! Because this is such a strange and interesting natural attraction, the trail does get quite busy. However, you can avoid crowds by going early in the morning!

Photo Credit: Thomas (Flickr CC)

Valley Forge Historic Trail

  • Trail Distance: 7.7 miles
  • Location: Valley Forge National Historic Park

For history lovers, there’s no better place to explore than Valley Forge National Historic Park. Full of revolutionary era log cabins, homes, and people dressed in historic attire, it’s an extra fun place to take kids to teach them about the history of Pennsylvania. At 7.7 miles, the Valley Forge Historic Trail might seem long, but it’s flat and a great way to spend a day exploring both nature and history. Most of the trails here are flat and paved, and it’s accessible for all hikers, including young kids and dogs.

High Rocks Trail

  • Trail Distance: 3.9 miles
  • Location: Tohickon Valley Park

Nature, rivers, and forests await at High Rocks Trail, which is located in Tohickon Valley Park. This easy trail offers a bit more of a rugged spot for hiking near Philadelphia, culminating in a rocky outcropping that boasts stunning views of the Tohickon Creek.

We’d strongly recommend taking a photo of the trail map along with you to make sure you are on the right path, as the numerous trail options can be very confusing at parts. Those who choose to make the trek here will be rewarded with stunning views of rock formations, the valley, and the colors of the forest surrounding the trails.

Photo Credit: Thomas (Flickr CC)

John Heinz Lake Loop

  • Trail Distance: 3.7 miles
  • Location: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

If it’s wildlife and bird watching you’re seeking, there’s no better spot for hiking near Philadelphia than John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Comprised of a marshy area, the park attracts lots of local and migratory bird specials, as well as marine wildlife. The Lake Loop trail is a perfect way to experience the park. While it’s not exactly removed from the city, it’s an incredible sight to see this conservation area amidst a rather large urban backdrop.

Photo Credit: Scottb211 (Flickr CC)

Canyon Rim Trail

  • Trail Distance: 1 mile
  • Location: Colton Point State Park

Here’s a secret about hiking near Philadelphia: sometimes the shortest hikes are actually the coolest. The Canyon Rim Trail in Colton Point State Park is one such instance – the view of the canyon from the trail is one of the most stunning on our list. At just 1 mile, this trail is quite accessible to all levels of hikers, and weaves through forests and rocky areas to get to the prime viewpoint of Pine Creek Canyon.

Photo Credit: Thomas (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes near Philadelphia

Wissahickon Gorge North Loop

  • Trail Distance: 4.7 miles
  • Location: Valley Forge National Historic Park

For a more challenging hike in the Valley Forge area, the Wissahickon Gorge North Loop is a fantastic spot for hiking near Philadelphia. This trail offers a mix of gravel and rocky terrain, as well as a few slopes for a little bit more of a workout than the easier hikes on this guide. This forested trail is unique because of all there is to see along the way – historic bridges and ruins, large statues of people and animals, and of course, the creek and its tiny cascades.

Mount Misery

  • Trail Distance: 2.9 miles
  • Location: Valley Forge National Historic Park

For a relaxed, forested trail that takes you away from the chaos of the city, Mount Misery is one of the most tranquil hikes near Philadelphia. Despite its name, this hike is actually quite fun! Located in Valley Forget National Historic Park, the trail runs through the beautiful forested grounds of the park, and connects with many other trails, like the Horseshoe Loop or Mount Joy. The trail also passes by historic stone ruins that you can explore along the way.

Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa (Flickr CC)

Mount Minsi

  • Trail Distance: 5.3 miles
  • Location: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Philly locals love hiking Mount Minsi – a 5.3-mile moderate hike in one of the most naturally scenic areas in Pennsylvania. This rock mountain offers stunning views of its own rock faces, the nearby river, and the surrounding forests, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing colors. It’s also part of the iconic Appalachian Trail, so you can also leave your hike with the bragging rights of completing a part of it! Mount Minsi is one of our favorite hikes near Philadelphia that’s accessible to anyone who is up for a bit of a challenge!

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Mt. Tammany

  • Trail Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Location: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

A sister hike to Mount Minsi, Mount Tammany is located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This hike is similar to Mount Minsi as it boasts beautiful views of Mount Minsi, the river and valleys below, and the colorful wooded areas nearby. However, get ready to climb, as this short trail has some significant inclines to get to the top. If you’re up for a full day of hiking near Philadelphia, we’d recommend tackling both Mount Minsi and Mount Tammany for a double whammy!

Photo Credit: Gene Krasko (Flickr CC)

Ricketts Glen Falls

  • Trail Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Location: Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen Falls is a paradise for waterfall lovers, and is one of the coolest and most picturesque hikes near Philadelphia. This short but mighty trail is home to a whopping 17 waterfalls, all of which you can see on this 3.3-mile trail. You’ll have to work for this one – it’s fairly steep and rocky, and many areas can get slippery. But the challenge is definitely worth the reward as you pass by some of the most beautiful cascades in the state!

Kelly’s Run

  • Trail Distance: 3.7 miles
  • Location: Holtwood Recreation Park

For waterfalls, bridges, forests, rock formations, and more, Kelly’s Run is a fantastic hiking trail near Philadelphia where you can see it all. This shorter hike meanders through canyon-like rock formations past small cascades and creeks, as well as open meadows that bloom with wildflowers in the warmer months. Those who like to scramble and climb can explore some of the many rock scrambles that line the trails, as well (but practice safety as you go!).

Photo Credit: hey tiffany! (Flickr CC)

The Pinnacle

  • Trail Distance: 10 miles
  • Location: Kempton, PA

If you’re seeking a full-day adventure, the Pinnacle Trail is a favorite local getaway for hiking near Philadelphia. This 10-mile trail is one of the longer ones on our list, and it boasts stunning views from its rocky peak. We’d recommend this trail for hikers with some experience under their belts, as it is fairly strenuous in some areas and is a much longer distance than many other hikes we’ve listed here.

The Pinnacle Trail is unique because it is located in an area abundant with wildlife. For this reason, it’s advised to wear bright, easily visible colors on your hike as it’s a popular area for hunters.

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Difficult Hikes near Philadelphia

Loyalsock Trail

  • Trail Distance: 54.2 miles
  • Location: Worlds End State Park

As one of the few places for through hiking near Philadelphia, Loyalsock Trail is a stunning backcountry trail area that offers experienced, advanced-level hikers a chance for a multi-day adventure. At 54.2 miles, this trail is typically done in 4+ days, and you’ll need to bring the appropriate camping gear for it. However, hikers who tackle the Loyalsock Trail mention that it’s incredibly difficult, but well worth it for the amazing views and spectacular scenery.

Photo Credit: Richard Bonnett (Flickr CC)

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Loop Trail

  • Trail Distance: 5.4 miles
  • Location: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is home to many birds of prey, and is located on a scenic mountaintop where viewing is optimal. Bird watchers will love the wildlife opportunities here, but there’s so much more for experienced hikers who are looking for a bit of a shorter adventure. Scrambling and steep ascents are all part of the package at the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Trail – get ready to get your hands dirty and break a sweat if you choose to do this hike.

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli (Flickr CC)

Sullivan Run Trail to Lewis Falls

  • Trail Distance: 8.3 miles
  • Location: Ricketts Glen State Park

Of course, we’ve saved the best for last – Sullivan Run Trail to Lewis Falls. This strenuous, 8.3-mile trail is a well-kept secret in the Ricketts Glen area, but local hikers love it for the physical challenge and scenery. Many hikers claim that this is the “most beautiful trail in Pennsylvania” and has some of the best views around. Along the trail, you’ll encounter lots and lots of waterfalls and cascades. Be aware that this trail is notoriously hard to follow, so download the route on AllTrails beforehand if you plan to tackle it for the first time.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Philadelphia

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

  • ABCD

While Philadelphia, Pennsylvania might be best known for the Liberty Bell and its famous cheese steaks, there are a lot of outdoor gems to discover in the surrounding areas. Surprisingly, there are several world-class snowboarding and ski areas near the city. While it may feel daunting to plan a trip to one of the ski resorts near Philadelphia, it’s actually surprisingly simple! To help you plan a winter getaway to the slopes this year, we compiled this list of the best places for snowboarding and skiing near Philadelphia.

A note on transportation: As city dwellers, we know it can often be hard to get to many of the outdoor areas near you without a car. Where possible, we try to include public transportation instructions, but renting a car may be necessary to get to some of these spots. We typically use and recommend Enterprise – they have the widest selection of cars at the best prices – but you can also click here to check reviews & compare rental car prices in your city.

Photo Credit: Massacusetts Office of Tourism & Travel (Flickr CC)

Best Ski Resorts for Beginners Near Philadelphia

Spring Mountain Adventures

  • Location: Schwenksville, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 35.5 miles (45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience Levels: Beginner

Spring Mountain Adventures is less of a ski resort and more of an all-around adventure sports facility, but since it’s the closest of the ski resorts near Philadelphia, it warranted a spot on our list nonetheless. It’s just 45 minutes from the city center, so you could easily hit the slopes for a day or a few hours.

There are 8 beginner-friendly trails and 4 lifts at Spring Mountain, and they’ve got gear rentals and lessons for skiing or snowboarding as well. Additionally, Spring Mountain Adventures offers tubing for those who want the thrill of snow riding without having to learn any technique.

Bear Creek Mountain Resort

  • Location: Macungie, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 58 miles (1 hour, 15 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: Beginner and intermediate

Of all of the places to go snowboarding or skiing near Philadelphia, Bear Creek Mountain Resort is the closest that offers a more traditional “winter getaway” experience. It’s located just 1 hour and 15 minutes away from Philadelphia, which can be done as a day trip or an entire winter vacation. It’s a smaller resort, with just 86 acres of skiable acres, but it’s a fun spot for groups or families to ski together!

Bear Creek’s 23 trails are very accessible to beginners – 70% of the trails are beginner or intermediate-friendly, so they’re suitable for first-timers as well as those looking for more of a challenge. With an on-site lodge and several recreational options, you can ski all day and then relax around the resort in the evenings.

Photo Credit: Shinya Suzuki (Flickr CC)

Camelback Mountain Resort

  • Location: Tannersville, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 104.5 miles (1 hour, 45 minutes)
  • Experience Levels: Beginner and intermediate

For beginners to intermediate skiers that want to gain more experience on the slopes, Camelback Mountain is a fantastic option for ski resorts near Philadelphia. It’s located just under 2 hours from the city and you can take a bus there if you don’t have a car.

Many of slopes at Camelback Mountain are beginner-friendly, even the ones that start at the top of the mountain, so you can try your hand at some of the longer trails even if you’re just getting started on skis or a snowboard. When you’re not skiing, they’ve also got an indoor water park that makes for some fun and family-friendly apres-ski activities!

Laurel Mountain

  • Location: Boswell, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 242 miles (4 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on-site
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Best Ski Resorts Near Philadelphia for All Levels

Blue Mountain Resort

  • Location: Palmerton, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 78 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

If you’re looking for a place to go skiing near Philadelphia that has a good variety of beginner to expert-level trails, look no further than Blue Mountain Resort. At just 1.5 hours from Philadelphia, this ski resort is packed with thrilling slopes. For beginners, Blue Mountain Resort is unique because you can ski on beginner-friendly slopes starting at the very top of the mountain (most resorts reserve the bottom of the mountain for beginners).

As we mentioned before, Blue Mountain has a fairly even spread of easy to challenging runs, which means it’s a great place to learn how to ski and level up your skills. There are also gear rentals and group lessons available for first-timers. For non-skiers or snowboarders, there’s also tubing available at the resort.

Jack Frost Big Boulder

  • Location: White Haven, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 99.2 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Jack Frost and Big Boulder Resorts, known as JFBB, are a conglomerate of trails that make up a small and locally beloved spot for skiing near Philadelphia. The JFBB resort area consists of just 36 trails, fairly equally distributed between easy, intermediate, and advanced-level terrain.

As it’s just 1.5 hours from Philadelphia, Jack Frost Big Boulder is a wonderful place to take a ski or snowboarding day trip and tackle several of their various slopes. Like most other resorts on our list, they’ve got rentals available, as well as hands-on guidance and group lessons for skiing and snowboarding first-timers.

Eagle Rock Resort

  • Location: Hazle Township, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 104 miles (2 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Eagle Rock Resort is a large Pennsylvania resort that has a variety of outdoor activities year-round, including skiing and snowboarding in the winter! Their snow sports area is tiny, with just 14 trails, but there is a variety of beginner and advanced runs that you can try as a guest at the resort. They’ve also got a ski gear shop as well as a tubing course for those looking to slide down the mountain rather than skiing or snowboarding!

Photo Credit: Mount Washington Chamber of Commerce (Flickr CC)

Shawnee Mountain Resort

  • Location: East Stroudsberg, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 108 miles (2 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Shawnee Mountain is one of the most beloved places to go snowboarding and skiing near Philadelphia. It’s a mid-size resort that provides a variety of trails for all levels of skiers, and there are several family-friendly events year round. Located in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, this gem is a local hangout for a good reason!

On site, Shawnee Mountain has 23 trails that range from green to black diamond. There’s also an extensive tubing park, gear rentals and shops, and lessons available to first-timers or beginners.

Ski Roundtop Resort

  • Location: Lewisberry, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 118 miles (2 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience Levels: All levels

For families or couples that want to ski and play, Ski Roundtop is a fantastic Pennsylvania ski resort that’s home to several ski slopes suitable for all levels. At just 2 hours from Philadelphia, it’s easily accessible from the city center, perfect for a day trip or a short weekend getaway.

At this medium-sized resort, you’ll find several ski slopes ranging from easy bunny hills to double black diamond terrain. There are also lessons, rentals, and tubing available for those who have less experience.

Ski Roundtop is part of the 3X program, which gives a discount for a 3-visit pass that’s valid at several East Coast ski resorts. Note that there’s no accommodation on the resort’s grounds, but you can find some places to stay nearby.

Photo Credit: Rich Perry (Flickr CC)

Montage Mountain

  • Location: Scranton, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 123 miles (2 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience Levels: All levels; 70% intermediate to advanced

For adventure junkies, Montage Mountain Resort boasts some of the most challenging trails for snowboarding and skiing near Philadelphia. Only 20% of the resort’s 26 trails are beginner-friendly, with 45% tagged as intermediate and another 35% recommended for experts only. Complete with a terrain park, several black diamond and double black diamond trails, and night skiing, Montage Mountain isn’t for the faint of heart.

If you’d like to visit but don’t have much experience with skiing, there are rentals and lessons available for beginners, as well as tubing that’s suitable for all ages. While there’s no lodge on the premises, you can eat at the Slocum Restaurant or in the no-frills food court on-site.

Mountain Creek Resort

  • Location: Vernon Township, NJ
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 131 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Located 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, Mountain Creek Ski Resort is an ideal day trip or weekend getaway from the city to hit the slopes. With 46 trails over 160 ski-able acres, Mountain Creek is a medium-sized resort that’s perfect for a peaceful weekend getaway on the slopes. There’s also a wide variety of difficulty levels at the resort, from easy, smooth green hills to black diamond drops.

Not only does Mountain Creek have skiing and snowboarding, but they also have tubing, which is a family-friendly activity that anyone can enjoy. At the resort, you can also rent gear, take lessons, or enjoy the terrain park to change things up a bit.

Elk Mountain

  • Location: Union Dale, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 151 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

At 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, Elk Mountain is close enough for a day trip. According to locals, it’s one of the best options for terrain skiing near DC in the beautiful Endless Mountains (near the Poconos). It’s got trails for all levels of skiers, night skiing, and several challenging terrain areas to cater to any experience and thrill level you’re looking for.

On the resort’s grounds, you can rent or buy gear, take lessons up to intermediate level, and enjoy the terrain park. While there’s no lodge on the resort, you can hang out in the Winter Garden restaurant and a cafeteria to warm up in between hitting the slopes.

Liberty Mountain Resort

  • Location: Fairfield, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 155 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Located 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, Liberty Mountain Resort is one of Pennsylvania’s favorite ski resorts. With fantastic ski packages and resources for beginners, Liberty Mountain Resort is a fantastic place to learn to ski among friends and family. Because it’s close enough to Philadelphia, you can take a day trip to the resort or stay the night at the resort’s beautiful lodge.

Aside from being the most convenient ski resort to access from DC, they also have fantastic specials to encourage you to return over and over again. One of its most popular offerings is the 3X deal, which is a steep discount on lift passes and (optional) rentals for one price. What’s even better is that this 3X deal is good for many different resorts, including a few on this list.

Like the others on this list, Liberty Mountain does offer beginner lessons, rentals, and packages, so don’t sweat it if this is your first time on the slopes! The resort will make sure you’re in good hands to learn how to ski or snowboard with ease.

Thunder Ridge

  • Location: Patterson, NY
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 160 miles (2 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site; the closest hotel is Station Inn
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Thunder Ridge Ski Area is a smaller gem of a ski resort, and it made our list for two reasons: it’s less than 3 hours from Philadelphia, and lift tickets are much cheaper compared to some of the larger, more commercial resorts. This is a great spot for snowboarding and skiing near Philadelphia, perfect for an affordable weekend getaway on the slopes.

There are just over 20 trails, with a pretty even mix of easy, intermediate, and expert slopes. Thunder Ridge also has two beginner ski areas and a terrain park for first-timers to get some experience under their belt.

Ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain

  • Location: Lackwaxen, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 151 miles (3 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Ski Big Bear is located in the mountains near the New York-Pennsylvania border. This park is ideal for skiers of all levels as its 18 trails are split evenly between beginner, intermediate, and advanced. This resort has a unique set-up in which the lodge and ski shops are located at the top of the slopes, meaning you take the ski lifts up after you reach the bottom of the trails. Skiers from Philadelphia will find this resort charming and secluded.

Pro tip: If you happen to live in the area and be a member of the Masthope Mountain Community, you can ski here for free!

Tussey Mountain All Seasons

  • Location: Boalsburg, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 187 miles (3 hours)
  • Experience Levels: Beginner to intermediate

Tussey Mountain is an ideal location for skiers close to Penn State. The park is small in size, with 7 runs total split mostly between blues and greens. This resort is widely known for its strong ties with the community and various, year-round events and programs.

Advanced skiers who live nearby can take part and train with the Tussey Mountain Alpine Racing Team. Additionally, there is an amphitheater on site that hosts events, like the locally famous WingFest, year-round.

Whitetail Resort

  • Location: Mercersburg, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 193 miles (3 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Located in Pennsylvania just 3 hours from Philadelphia, Whitetail Resort is another fantastic option for those wanting to hit great slopes somewhat close to the city. Whitetail Resort is a day use recreation area with access to ski slopes, gear rentals, dining, lessons, and more. Complete with 23 ski trails for all levels, beginner to advanced, as well as a terrain park, there’s no shortage of activities at Whitetail Ski Resort.

Ski Sawmill Resort

  • Location: Morris, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 213 miles (3.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Ski Sawmill is a tiny ski resort located on a small hill about 3.5 hours away from Philadelphia. Don’t let its small size deceive you. Ski Sawmill is geared towards the intermediate skier as the majority of its 12 slopes are blue or higher in difficulty.

This resort is a perfect location for someone looking to escape the crowds at other larger ski resorts near Philadelphia. As of Fall 2019, ticket prices range from $30-$50.

Blue Knob All Seasons Resort

  • Location: Claysburg, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 226 miles (3.5 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Blue Knob Resort
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Blue Knob Resort is a year-round resort that offers winter sports, namely skiing and snowboarding, but we’ve included it in this section because it’s one of the few resorts that offers cross-country skiing near Philadelphia. With its immense variety of snow sports, as well as an on-site lodge, Blue Knob is a well-rounded resort where you can try all kinds of winter activities.

Day use and rental fees for the Nordic/cross-country ski area are very affordable, giving all visitors the opportunity to give this different type of skiing a try. There are also lessons available for both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for beginners wanting to learn new skills and techniques for the sport. Of course, if you realize that cross-country isn’t your thing, you can hit the regular, downhill trails on skis or a snowboard as well!

Seven Springs Mountain Resort

  • Location: Champion, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 236 miles (4 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, in the Seven Springs Mountain Resort
  • Experience Levels: All levels

Known as one of the best ski resorts near Philadelphia to “get some air,” Seven Springs Mountain Resort’s slopes include beginner-friendly bunny hills to adrenaline-inducing double black diamond slopes and terrain parks. For the thrill-seeking skier, there are few competitors to Seven Springs’ 33 ski trails.

For beginners, there are group and private lessons available with a handful of easy slopes to practice on. There are gear rentals available as well that you can pick up at the lodge. Ten different ski lifts dot the park to help you get around from trail to trail, and there are a handful of different lodges on the resort grounds where you can grab a hot meal or take a break from the slopes.

Hidden Valley Resort

  • Location: Hidden Valley, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 250 miles (4 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at The Inn at Hidden Valley
  • Experience Levels: All levels

If you are looking for an escape into the mountains, look no further than Hidden Valley Ski Resort. This ski resort is the perfect location for beginners looking to improve their skills. At 26 runs in size, and 27% beginner trails, Hidden Valley is one of the ideal ski resorts near Philadelphia to become the advanced skier you’ve dreamed of becoming.

Lift tickets are priced reasonably, and Hidden Valley also participates in a local network along with Laurel Mountain and Seven Spring Mountain. One ticket gets you access to all three parks in a weekend.

Mystic Mountain at Nemacolin

  • Location: Farmington, PA
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 290 miles (4.5 hours)
  • Experience Levels: Beginner to intermediate

Mystic Mountain is a small, family owned ski resort located within the larger Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. There are 6 runs total: 2 are beginner friendly, 2 are intermediate level, and the last 2 are advanced. The resort also has a terrain park that is built to give beginners some extra help while training to transition to the advanced trails. At night, the entire ski hill is illuminated, making this destination an excellent location for nighttime skiing.

When you get tired of skiing, pop into the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for some extra attractions and some much needed relaxation. Spend time in the spa and wellness rooms, play a round of golf, or test your luck at the casino. Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is the ideal location for skiing near Philadelphia, perfect for groups who want additional experiences after the slopes.

Canaan Valley Resort

  • Location: Davis, WV
  • Distance from Philadelphia: 318 miles (5 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Canaan Valley Resort 
  • Experience Levels: All levels

While there are several fabulous ski resorts on the East Coast, we couldn’t finish this list without mentioning Canaan Valley because it’s a beloved, well-rounded option for skiing near Philadelphia. With 48 ski and snowboard trails with a vertical drop of 850 feet, Canaan Valley Resort draws in new and repeat visitors from all over the East Coast year after year.

Complete with a year-round resort, as well as a spa, fitness center, and several dining options, Canaan Valley Resort is a perfect spot to enjoy winter in West Virginia. Even if you’ve never skied before, there are plenty of options to rent gear and take lessons. More advanced skiers can take advantage of the several black diamond-rated trails and the affordable season passes.

Skiing Near Philadelphia: Additional Resources

What to Pack

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

For our complete (downloadable!) list of things to bring on a ski trip (and our favorite gear suggestions), head to our complete ski trip packing list.

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