April’s the perfect time to plan to see your favorite wildflowers in full bloom during the warmer days of spring! Tie up your hiking boots and hit one of these PA trails to get a glimpse of the wild side of nature in PA. Please be sure to “just look with your eyes” and leave these wildflower beauties where they grow best to be admired for generations to come.
1. Alpine Trail
May is a prime month to find flourishing wildflowers along the Alpine Trail at Gifford Pinchot State Park. Hike or bike along this easy half-mile trail that will take you down a wide, flat gravel path where you can see bluebells and golden yellow Marsh marigolds bloom before your eyes.
2. Huntingdon and Broad Top Rail Trail
Bike or hike and appreciate the first signs of spring along the Huntingdon and Broad Top Rail Trail. The 12-mile route from Tatesville to the Red Cut area beyond Riddlesburg is where you’ll find the beautiful white flowers of Dutchman’s breeches reminiscent of a pair of upside-down trousers. Look closely at the rocks along your trek to spy where beautiful wild columbine flowers grow.
3. Trough Creek State Park
Nestled in the scenic gorge formed where the Great Trough Creek cuts through Terrace Mountain before emptying into Raystown Lake, Trough Creek State Park is a hot spot for spring scenery. It’s a great place to not only set your sights on the colorful spring wildflowers that cover the park, but also watch for woodland birds. Come back in the summertime to see the hiking trails lined with Mountain Laurel that typically bloom in mid-June and rhododendron, which blooms in early July.
4. Great Gorge Trail
The 1.3-mile Great Gorge Trail at Ohiopyle State Park leads straight through the best spring wildflower patch in the entire park. What was once an old tramway used to transport coal from Keister Mine to the railroad is now a walkable path winged by a sea of colorful wildflowers, such as red and white trillium.
5. Rail 66 Country Trail
Explore the beauty and blooms of western PA on the Rail 66 Country Trail with the trail side in spring brimming with beautiful wildflowers and young green shoots. Wind your way through Clarion County as you discover the shady hardwood forests of the uplands, farm fields, and pastures, which house groves of mature maple, oak, and beech trees, ample wildlife and, of course, breathtaking wildflowers.
6. Mahoning Shadow Trail
Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow isn’t the only well-known shadow in town. The Mahoning Shadow Trail is a 15-mile trail to hike, bike, or partake in other outdoor activities this spring. Discover wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and squirrels frolicking through the vast flora featuring numerous species of trees and wildflowers, including the rare pink lady-slipper flower.
7. Painter Trail and Rocky Run Trail
The Painter Trail at Tyler Arboretum is a challenging trek but offers some of the most picturesque views of the arboretum and Rocky Run. The trail winds through woodlands and meadows bursting with vibrant colors, plus two easy stream crossings. Stroll through crabapples, dogwoods, magnolias, rhododendrons, and other wildflowers. Visit in summer to spy summer’s blooms brightening the paths with bottlebrush buckeye and lilacs. Take the 1.4-mile, mid-length Rocky Run Trail with its charming views of woodlands and meadows including beautiful rhododendrons and other fantastic flora.
8. River Trail
The one-mile River Trail at the Brandywine River Museum of Art & Conservancy may be a shorter loop but it’s bursting with an abundance of natural and man-made wonders. Look up at the Alluvial forest, gaze at the historic Mill Dam-turned-Museum, and trek through the wetland to spot wildlife. When meandering through the floodplain meadow, you’ll come across colorful wildflowers including New York ironweed, Joe-Pye weed, Swamp milkweed, various types of goldenrods, and asters.
9. Newlin Grist Mill
The Newlin Grist Mill offers 8.5 miles of trails that blend natural beauty, environmental diversity, and cultural history. The 160-acre park has an array of diverse habitats and wide range of wildlife, along with the white, yellow, pink, and purple wildflowers and more unusual blooms, including the aptly named Skunk cabbage.
10. Jennings Environmental Education Center
Jennings Environmental Education Center offers five miles of trails that take you through more than 300 acres of forest and prairie. On the Hepatica Trail you’ll find unique spring wildflowers such as the lovely blue Fragile hepatica. In the summertime, be sure to take the beautiful Blazing Star Trail that turns the prairie a perfect purple in late July and early August. Be sure to keep an eye out for the wildlife that call these lands home, including the massasauga rattlesnake.
11. Eliza Furnace Trail
Part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the Eliza Furnace Trail is a six-mile hike that starts in the southwest corner of Schenley Park and winds from Point State Park to the downtown section of the Heritage Trail and back. Open year-round, the trail offers iconic views of Pittsburgh from along the Monongahela River where you can point out the South Side, the Hot Metal Bridge, and Mount Washington. The already scenic experience is elevated when in-season wildflowers line the path.
12. Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve
Follow the white blazes of the one-mile Nature Trail at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve for a great introduction to the preserve’s many varied habitats. Passing through wetlands, woodlands, and glimpses of Swamp Creek, the trail promises a variety of beautiful wildflowers. The pink blazes of the scenic, 2.25-mile Swamp Creek Trail offer a slightly more challenging hike through forested groves of towering tulip poplars and beech and hemlock trees.
13. Ricketts Glen State Park
Known for some of the most scenic spots in PA, it’s no surprise that Ricketts Glen State Park offers an abundance of trail experiences where you can view a wide variety of beautiful spring wildflowers. These include Jack-in-the-pulpit, wild ginger, Marsh marigold, and bluets along paths leading to the park's famous waterfalls, meadows, and around Lake Jean. Before you go, be sure to download the guide to the flora of Ricketts Glen.
14. Ghost Town Trail
Hiking along the 46-mile Ghost Town Trail it’s easy to see why the trail was voted Pennsylvania’s 2020 Trail of the Year! During April and early May, gaze at dozens of gorgeous wildflowers along the route. You can walk, hike, bike, or run the trail that traverses Indiana County and continues into neighboring Cambria County, passing numerous historic sites, including the Buena Vista and Eliza Furnaces. View the interactive flipbook, which is loaded with maps and info on the area’s history, trail mileage, and advice on trip planning.
15. Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area
Virginia bluebell, spring-beauty, trout-lily, and white trillium are just a few of the stunning spring flowers to see along the 2.8-mile loop trail at the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area. The spectacular display of spring wildflowers is followed up by summer’s violet and white flowers of the Water willow that grows in thick beds within the shallow, rock-bottomed waters of Wolf Creek.
16. West Park Nature Center
Explore the 100-acre West Park Nature Center with its multiple trails, picnic area, observation deck overlooking several acres of wetlands, and beautiful wildflower meadow. Twenty-five acres of the park is dedicated as a Certified Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary.
17. Sunfish Pond County Park
While the 70-acre Sunfish Pond County Park is perhaps best known as a prime fishing spot with its 30-acre pond stocked with trout, bass, pickerel, perch, and sunfish, the park is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including several bald eagles. Located on top of Barclay Mountain, the park’s trails come alive with wildflowers and the green shoots of other plants in spring making it a great spot to connect with nature!
18. Schuylkill River Trail
The 120-mile-long Schuylkill River Trail features a host of different habitats and sights to see, but the portion that runs through Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park perhaps offers the best locale to spy beautiful spring wildflowers in bloom. Enjoy views of the river, the city skyline, the park’s flowering trees, and one of the greatest collections of wildflowers to be found on the green lawns of Kelly Drive that border the trail.
19. Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail
The 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is a favorite for hikers and nature lovers alike. Going from mile marker 0 to mile marker 3 isn't just one of the most challenging sections of the trail, it also features some of the best and most diverse wildflower viewing opportunities on the Laurel Ridge.
20. Enlow Fork Natural Area – State Game Lands 302
While birders flock to the Enlow Fork Natural Area to spy a variety of birds from a wide variety of species, the area also offers prime viewing for wildflower lovers. Here, you’ll have a chance to discover several rare, protected species of flowers, such as the Blue-eyed Mary, a prairie-remnant species. Mature sycamores dominate Enlow Fork’s streambanks, along with silver maple and other characteristic riparian species, that provide habitat for the area’s wildlife.
21. Mountain View Trail Loop
Pennsylvania’s Forbes State Forest offers more than 100 different trails covering over 250 miles of terrain and a variety of habitats, as well as playing host to a wide range of outdoor activities and educational experiences. For spotting some of the most colorful wildflowers in the forest, including Jack-in-the-Pulpit and trillium blanket in early May, the 3.9-mile Mountain View Trail Loop is great place to start.
Looking for more hikng spots in Pennsylvania to add to your #PABucketList this spring? Check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, 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!