Published: May 20, 2020
Updated: June 29, 2021
By: Frances Ellison & Phillyfunguide Staff
We can all use a little reprieve from being in the house all day, after what feels like years of this pandemic. If you're starting to feel a little stir crazy, there is hope for us all yet: Philadelphia has some of the most beautiful walking trails in the world, so a change of scenery is right in your backyard!
Whether you’re a cyclist, commuter, runner or walker, look no further! Here are eight of the most popular Circuit Trails in Philadelphia for you to explore. Try a new trail on your next outing or make a point of seeing them all.*
These trails and many more are a part of the Circuit Trails, a vast regional network of hundreds of miles of trails. The Circuit Trails connect us to green space and make our neighborhoods more attractive places to live and work.
*Please be sure to view and participate in these activities safely. For up-to-date information on the City of Philadelphia's COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, visit their official website.
Take in incredible views of the Delaware River while crossing over the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge! The bridge offers cyclists and pedestrians a protected walkway over the river as they make their way to Lardner’s Point Park on the Pennsylvania side of the river, or to the Delaware River Heritage Trail in New Jersey. The 3,600 foot-long walkway will have you hungry to continue your journey along other segments of the Circuit Trails (after you stop to capture that perfect Instagram moment, of course).
Located in Northeast Philadelphia in Tacony Creek Park, this 3.2-mile trail is perfect for exploring on a weekend afternoon. You can bring the whole family—educational programs and recreational areas supplement the creek trail. The route serves as a perfect scenic escape and is a quiet haven where you can indulge in your favorite outdoor activities.
Pack a picnic and spend a day exploring this scenic 14-mile trail. Trail-users can experience rich wildlife throughout Pennypack Park, including birdwatching at Betrayers Swamp. You'll also spot the remains of the man water-powered mills from colonial times. Take a moment to listen to the creek from the Kings Highway Bridge, the oldest continuously-used bridge in the U.S., built in 1697. You can even bring your four-legged friend for a challenging exercise for both you and your pet!
The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge was America’s first urban refuge. It opened in 1972 and protects the largest fresh water tidal marsh in Pennsylvania. Within the Heinz Refuge are more than 10 miles of interconnected trails made of crushed-stone. This allows users to explore scenic marsh, meadows and woodlands. Not far from the Philadelphia Airport, it is remarkable how tranquil and remote the Heinz Refuge Trail feels. For the outdoors lover, this trail provides ample opportunities to canoe and fish in the Delaware River and is an excellent place for wildlife and bird watching.
Traveling alongside its namesake creek, the Cobbs Creek Trail is 3.7 miles of paved trail perfect for those who prefer a smooth ride. Also located along the trail are the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center, the Laura Sims Skate House and several playgrounds. The Cobbs Creek Trail are an ideal option for families looking for a weekend getaway.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take a ride on the Wissahickon Valley Park. This route offers a welcome refuge of dense foliage, waterfalls, streams and wildlife—all within a short distance of center city. Access the scenic route via Forbidden Drive and follow the 7-mile gravel and asphalt trail along the Wissahickon Creek. If the mid-trail hunger hits you—don’t worry! The Valley Green Inn, the last of many historic taverns along the creek, can serve you a snack or drink that will keep you on the trail all day long.
The Ben Franklin Bridge isn’t just for car traffic – it is also home to the Ben Franklin Pedestrian Walkway, which provides a safe passage and incredible views for walkers and cyclists between Camden, New Jersey and Philadelphia. If you’re headed to Camden for a waterfront event or concert, consider biking there next time! Beyond the convenience and connectivity this trail provides, the journey across the walkway is incredibly scenic. Travel along this beloved Philadelphia icon to indulge in sweeping views worthy of a pit stop to snap a photo or two.
These are just seven trails out of hundreds of miles of trails in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. If you want to explore more trails in the region, visit the Circuit Trails website to find your hundreds of miles of happy. To see what fun events are happening on the Circuit, check out the events page.