by Nicha Jones
All of my life I have been a regular hiker (I pride myself on my mountain goat skills). Growing up in sunny California always provided me with a plethora of trail choices at my disposal. So naturally when I relocated to the East Coast from out West, my ability to find new locations to curb my outdoor adventure appetite was put to the test! Thankfully, Philadelphia and the surrounding areas are chock full of gorgeous foliage. The big difference in the East is that seasons definitely matter, and you're essentially out of commission during the harsh winter months, but the options are plentiful nonetheless. Nature is healing and I firmly believe that even a mere scenic stroll can cure the sourest of moods. So even if you don't consider yourself a tree hugger, try one of these two simple hikes to treat your winter blues.
Forbidden Drive, Fairmount
This trail is surprisingly close to Philadelphia and only a 15 minute drive from Center City. It’s your stereotypical East Coast trail in the best of ways, especially if you go during the fall. The trail runs alongside a quaint stream, where you’ll find one of the last covered bridges in America. The trails are perfect for the amateur hiker since it’s pretty level throughout, with the exception of a few moderate inclines. You don’t need to even bother wearing hiking boots, since sneakers will suffice for a comfortable trip.
TRIPPER TIP: Watch out for ticks! Wear protective gear (aka pants, socks, long sleeves).
To get to the trailhead: To get to Valley Green Road, take Springfield Avenue in Chestnut Hill, two blocks west of St. Martin's Lane and the St. Martin's R-8 Station. Just above Valley Green, Wise's Mill Road meets Forbidden Drive, connecting it to Henry Avenue in Roxborough.
Trailhead address: Valley Green Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19128
Pennypack Creek Trail
If you are looking for something relaxing and scenic, this is the ideal trail for you. It’s a 45 minute to an hour drive, depending on where you live in the city, but well worth it if you want to feel like you’re in the country. Just make sure to dismiss all of the Trump supporter signs on your way out there…it may ruin a perfectly good outdoor experience! Once you park there, make sure to take a right at the little cottage, where it will lead you to an open meadow. There’s so many trails, that without a map, it can be difficult to navigate. Loop around the meadow and at the fork in the trail, take a right. I wandered around for a little while to find the creek and bridge, but it took no time and it was a pleasant experience trying to find my own way with no direction.
To get to the trailhead: Find the entrance to Pennypack Park on Pine Road south of Moredon Road, where there is extensive parking with picnic areas. There is another entrance at Algon at Bustleton, and a large park with many parking spaces at State Road near the Holmesburg prison. The park entrance is to the south.
Trailhead address: Pennypack Trail, Philadelphia, PA