It is easy to find open space in Montgomery County, PA. Since hiking involves very little in the way of gear or preparation, it is a great way to get started enjoying the outdoors. Montco has hundreds of miles of trails, ranging from paved paths to rugged dirt trails, some of which are shared by bicyclists and equestrians. While this is by no means an all-inclusive list, here are some suggestions to get you started in the southern half of the county.
If you have an hour or two
Many local parks such as Fischer’s Park in Towamencin or Penllyn Woods in Lower Gwynedd offer walking paths and/or hiking trails of a mile or two. The county-run Lorimer Park in Abington, Lower Perkiomen Park in Oaks and Central Perkiomen Valley Park in Schwenksville all offer easy hiking trails. In many cases, an advertised 4 or 5 miles of trails refers to a collection of (sometimes intertwined) trails. Natural Lands Trust properties offer natural beauty and trails, many of which can be enjoyed in a couple hours or less. Two of these, Gwynedd Preserve in Ambler, PA and Saunders Woods Preserve in Gladwyne, PA offer trails in both grassy open and wooded areas. The Wissahickon Watershed Association maintains several similar properties such as Willow Lake Farm, Camp Woods, Armentrout Preserve and the Briar Hill Preserve.
Area nature centers also offer hiking trails. Some have made their trails more accessible with the addition of paved trails and boardwalks and may also offer signage identifying plant and trees as well as common wildlife seen in the area. Area nature centers include Upper Dublin’s Robbins Park Environmental Education Center, Abington’s Briar Bush Nature Center, and Gladwyne’s Riverbend Environmental Education Center.
If you have half a day
State parks offer a greater number and variety of trails. Though there are some short trails you can hike in an hour or two, Evansburg State Park in Collegeville can also keep you outdoors for an entire morning or afternoon. Norristown Farm Park’s 8 miles of trails are ADA accessible. While Fort Washington State Park has only 3.5 miles of trails, it also offers easy access to the Green Ribbon Trail. Valley Forge National Park has a number of trails that can be completed in a half day, some are paved and others, like the one to Mount Misery are more ambitious. Other options include the Audubon Loop Trail which joins up with sections of the Perkiomen and Schuylkill River Trails.
If you have a full day or even more
The Horse-Shoe Trail is a 140-mile trail that starts at Valley Forge and connects to the Appalachian Trail just north of Harrisburg. The Green Ribbon Trail, maintained by the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association is a 12.6-mile trail that follows the Wissahickon Creek and connects a number of parks and protected areas. Both trails are frequently hiked in sections, rather than all at once. In some cases, it is possible to create a loop with other adjacent trails in Valley Forge Park or at WVWA’s Four Mills Nature Reserve. Following former railroad paths, the 20-mile Perkiomen Trail runs from Oaks to Green Lane and the 18-mile Schuylkill River Trail currently runs from Philadelphia to Monte Clare.