Hiking

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area is criss-crossed by a network of trails that connect parks, gardens, and neighborhoods with each other and their environment. Those seeking to get out and walk will find ample opportunities to stretch their legs in all parts of the Heritage Area.

WHERE TO HIKE

There are generally two types of hiking experiences in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. There are several long-distance regional trails that cover multiple counties, or in some instances multiple states. The Appalachian Trail passes through the Heritage Area along the Kittatiny Ridge between Berks and Schuylkill Counties. The Horseshoe Trail is a mixed on and off road trail that begins at Valley Forge NHP and ends in the Appalachian Mountains above Hershey, Lebanon County. The Schuylkill River Trail is a mixed-use hike and bike trail that connects Philadelphia with Schuylkill County along the River. The SRT is paved in some sections and compacted gravel in others, and passes through a variety of urban, suburban, and rural settings. The East Coast Greenway will cross the Heritage Area in Philadelphia and will be a coastal walking and biking trail connecting Maine to Florida.

There are also numerous loop trails and small trail networks around the region in local, State and National Parks, nature preserves, environmental education centers, and at historic sites. Click the link at the top of the page to find all of the hiking opportunities in the Area.

Please hike only on marked and approved trails. Many of the trails pass through private property, and veering off of the approved course could mean you're trespassing.

STAYING SAFE ON THE TRAIL

Hiking, like all outdoor sports, requires a certain level of knowledge and research to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Before you get out and enjoy nature, consider these following tips:
  • Wear sturdy shoes that are appropriate to the terrain you'll be traveling across.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and in layers.
  • Bring plenty of water.
  • Do not drink untreated water from streams or creeks you come across. Boil water or use purfication tablets before using water from streams or the river for drinking or cooking.
  • Bring a map and a compass to help you navigate the trails, particularly on the long distance trails.
  • Check the weather forecast, and avoid hiking in extreme heat or cold
  • Do not eat plants or berries you find along the trails
  • Tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you expect to be back.
  • If you get lost, stay put and call for help. Please be advised that cell phones may not work in some locations.
  • Carry a whistle and use it if you are in distress.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy provides a lot of useful information for all hikers.

ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE

The Heritage Area is home to numerous species of animals and plants and if you're lucky, you'll see a few while out on the trail. Deer, fox, raccoons, and even a few bears can be found in various parts of the Heritage Area. Do not feed the animals, and please take all food scraps and trash with you on your journey.

PETS ON THE TRAIL

Dogs and other pets are welcome on most of the regional trails, and in some parks. Dogs may NOT be allowed at many of the preserves and sanctuaries. Check with the individual site before loading your pup for a walk in the woods.

See all Hiking Destinations


WHO ELSE LIKES TO HIKE?

There are several clubs and organizations in the Heritage Area that organize hiking trips and activities, clean up and maintain trails, and sponsor events throughout the year for hikers. Click here to find a hiking organization near you.

Schuylkill River Trail (new website)

schuylkill trail updates Schuylkill River Trail Updates


Appalachian Trail (NPS)
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Leave No Trace
American Hiking Society

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU HIKE

Familiarize yourself with the site or trail you plan to travel and its level of difficulty. Some trails are steep and rocky and are not appropriate for all users. Also, be sure to check the conditions of the trail before you leave. Storms, floods, and other weather events can close trails throughout the season. Be sure to check the weather and avoid hiking in extreme heat or cold.