As the cooler fall weather approaches, now is a great time for our happy travelers to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of Pennsylvania. With countless trails carving through the mountains and woodlands, travelers can embark on a new journey through a variety of terrains within 15 minutes of their homes. Whether you prefer to hike, bike, bird watch, or sightsee, here are some amazing trails that will leave you breathless.
1. Schuylkill River Trail
The Schuylkill River Trail is a multi-use trail in Southeastern Pennsylvania with a projected length of almost 130 miles between Philadelphia and Pottsville. There are currently about 75 miles complete in sections, including a 30-plus mile stretch from Philadelphia to Parkerford. From there, cyclists can follow a 20-mile signed on-road route to Hamburg. In Hamburg, trail users can access a scenic seven-mile stretch to Auburn in Schuylkill County. The trail is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, exercise, or commute.
2. The Great Shamokin Path
Tracing a section of the abandoned Rural Valley Railroad corridor, the Great Shamokin Path parallels the Cowanshannock Creek for 3.5 miles. Once a major trail that connected the two largest Native American towns in Pennsylvania, hikers can walk along the trail for views of western Pennsylvania.
3. Standing Stone Trail
The Standing Stone Trail is a hiking trail stretching 84 miles through Fulton, Huntingdon, and Mifflin counties; the trail traverses central Pennsylvania ridges and valleys from Cowans Gap State Park in the south, to Rothrock State Forest’s Detweiler Natural Area and the Mid-State Trail in the north. It was also named the state’s 2016 Trail of the Year. Standing Stone Trail is part of the 1,800-mile Great Eastern Trail, which starts at Flagg Mountain, AL, and extends to the Finger Lakes Trail in New York. More than 80 percent of the trail traverses state owned forest and PA Game Commission game lands. The popular Thousand Steps portion of the trail is located near Mount Union.
4. Pine Creek Rail Trail
Take a trip on the Pine Creek Rail Trail — recognized as one of the “10 Best Places to Take a Bike Tour” by USA Today. One of the premier rail-trails in the Northeast, the Pine Creek Trail offers travelers a spectacular, 62-mile journey through the area commonly referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” This historic path, once used to transport freight by train from Wellsboro to Williamsport, is also perfect for a relaxing hike. The trail has a small grade, only around two percent, and runs mostly uphill. Even equestrians can join the fun with a section of the trail designed specifically for horses.
5. The Allegrippis Trails
With endless combinations of routes and 36 miles of single track trails, the Allegrippis Trails at Raystown Lake are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts of all hiking levels. Adventure lovers will enjoy a challenging trek with stunning views of Raystown Lake and local wildlife. At nearby Trough Creek State Park, be sure to hike your way to Balanced Rock, a boulder that has hung on the side of a cliff for thousands of years — and Rainbow Falls, a waterfall along the footpath leading to Balanced Rock.
6. D&H Trail at Lehigh Gorge State Park
The varied trail surfaces and beautiful surroundings are what make the unique D&H Rail Trail a treat for any outdoor enthusiast. This 38-mile pathway stands in place of the historic Delaware and Hudson railroad, a small but vital rail line during the 1800s. The multi-use trail runs for several miles along the Lackawanna River and alternates between tree-lined sections and open stretches.
7. Heritage Rail Trail County Park
The 21.5-mile Heritage Rail Trail runs from the City of York to the Maryland border and includes seven railroad structures on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as an operating tourism train along 10-miles of track. This rail-to-trail was once a prime target for the Confederate Army prior to the Battle of Gettysburg. Known for its historic roots, the trail offers visitors a unique hiking experience.
8. Great Allegheny Passage
Considered to be one of the nation’s most popular rail trails, the Great Allegheny Passage begins in Pittsburgh, and crosses the border into Maryland, eventually ending in the nation’s capital. Complete from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage® connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath to create a 333-mile non-motorized route between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. — making it the longest unpaved bike path in the East Coast.
9. Montour Trail
The 63-mile multi-use Montour Trail system occupies the right of way of the former Montour Railroad and Peters Creek Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad between Coraopolis and Clairton in suburban Pittsburgh, making it one of the nation’s longest non-motorized suburban rail-trails. The trail connects with Pittsburgh International Airport, the Panhandle Trail, and the Great Allegheny Passage that stretches over 330 miles from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
10. Jakes Rocks Epic Mountain Bike Trail System
The Trails at Jakes Rocks is a purpose-built system of stack-loop mountain biking trails constructed on the Allegheny National Forest in Warren County, Northwest Pennsylvania. These trails are professionally designed and constructed to provide opportunities for all skill levels, ages, and genders to enjoy peaceful, beautiful outdoor recreation and exercise.
11. Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
Enjoy the picturesque Youghiogheny River and the Laurel Mountain during a hike along this 70-mile trail. A stop at Ohiopyle State Park offers breathtaking views and waterfalls to explore.
12. Allegheny National Forest
Hikers can head to the Allegheny National Forest, the only national forest in Pennsylvania, to enjoy scenic views along more than 200 miles of trails. The North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest trail in the Allegheny National Forest at 96.3 miles long and is one of three designated National Scenic Trails in Pennsylvania. This trail takes visitors to vistas of the Allegheny Reservoir passing through rock outcroppings, open hardwoods, old growth forests, and stands of hemlock.
13. Pine Grove Furnace State Park
Nestled deep in Michaux State Forest near Chambersburg, Pine Grove Furnace State Park is a perfect spot for an outdoor adventure! Featuring four miles of looping trails, scenic overlooks, and Laurel and Fuller lakes, the park’s wooded, mountainous atmosphere attracts hikers of all skill levels. The Pole Steeple Trail, the most famous in the park, is a steep, .75 mile trail that ends at the Pole Steeple Overlook, a quartzite outcropping that overlooks the entire park and the surrounding valleys.
14. Ricketts Glen State Park
A National Natural Landmark, Ricketts Glen State Park is best characterized by the Falls Trail System, a difficult, 7.2 mile trail that provides views of 22 named waterfalls. Ranging from 11 feet to the towering 94-foot Ganoga Falls, the waterfalls are each unique and provide tranquil resting stops along the rocky trail. Other trails roam through the park’s 13,193 acres, including the short Beach Trail that runs by the park’s swimming area and the Grand View Trial, which leads to the highest point on Red Rock Mountain. Each of the 26 miles of trails offers something different and are well worth the challenge.
15. Quehanna Trail
The Quehanna Trail is a 72.6-mile loop hiking trail in the Moshannon and Elk State Forests. The Trail passes through some of the most wild and beautiful country Pennsylvania has to offer. The main orange blazed trail begins on the western end at Parker Dam State Park. From Parker Dam the trail goes east into the Quehanna Wild Area toward Karthaus and Piper, then north toward Sinnemahoning and finally west through the Marion Brooks Natural Area back to Parker Dam.
16. Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park offers 11 miles of hiking trails that will take you through scenic views of Pennsylvania’s only seashore. These sandy trails offer hikers a glimpse at the beautiful coastline of this National Natural Landmark, known as a favorite spot for migrating birds.
To discover more hiking experiences in PA, check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter so you never miss an update.