“Walk your way to fitness.”
It’s an old saying that still holds true today, and you would have a difficult time disproving it.
The benefits of walking are nearly endless, but in addition to helping maintain a healthy weight, the simple concept of putting one foot in front of the other can prevent a number of conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Walking can also strengthen bones and muscles, and improve balance and coordination as well as your mood.
All you need to perform this exercise are comfortable clothes and a good pair of gym shoes. Of course, it’s tough to pound the pavement when it’s covered with ice and snow like it has been this winter. Thankfully, it’s just about time to put that heavy coat away until November and store the hat and gloves in the winter bin. Spring has returned, and with it comes the opportunity to sweat out that cabin fever and head outdoors.
There are plenty of spots for a nice, casual stroll or brisk jaunt in Bucks and Montgomery counties. In addition to exploring nature, many historic and unique sites are located either on these trails or just a few miles away. Check out these trails and attractions this spring.
Wy Hit Tuk Park – Theodore Roosevelt Recreation Area
Length: 3.4 miles
This open trail passes the town of Raubsville, as well as Lock 23 and Lock 22. The trail is part of the more than 50 miles of the D&L Trail that has been designated as National Recreation Trail within Delaware Canal State Park. While on the trail, catch a glimpse of the 830-acre Delaware Canal State Park, which was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as one of the “25 Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.” Walking, biking, running, fishing and even swimming are available to users of the Delaware Canal State Park.
Theodore Roosevelt Recreation Area – Durham Aqueduct
Length: 3.9 miles
Users can travel between Northampton County and Bucks County and through the town of Riegelsville on this D&L Trail. While on the trail, visit the historic Benjamin Riegel House. Constructed in the 1800s, the Georgian-style house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Riegel, who was a miller by trade, was instrumental in the development of Riegelsville, New Jersey, and Riegelsville, Pennsylvania. The Delaware Canal State Park is also accessible from this trail.
Durham Aqueduct – Tinicum Park
Length: 10.7 miles
One of the longer sections of the D&L Trail at nearly 11 miles, the Durham Aqueduct – Tinicum Park trail is also hefty with attractions. The Delaware Canal State Park is accessible from this trail and so too is the historic Erwin-Stover House & Barn. Built by William Erwin, for whom the town Erwinna is named after, the barn was part of a 1681 land grant given to William Penn by King Charles II of England. Today the barn, which is located on the grounds of Tinicum Park, is used for public and private events. Just a bit north of the barn are the Nockamixon Cliffs, which rise 300 feet above the Delaware River along Bucks County’s River Road. The cliffs are home to a rare community of artic-alpine plants, as well as 90 species of birds including falcons and osprey. If you’re visiting the cliffs be sure to bring your hiking shoes and binoculars.
Tinicum Park – Virginia Forrest Recreation Area
Length: 9.7 miles
Roughly halfway through this lengthy trail, users will come to Tohickon Valley Park, a perfect spot to take in scenic views and even dip one’s feet into the clean, cool water of the creek. Cabins and campgrounds are also available for those who want to spend a few days at the park. The Erwin-Stover House & Barn is also accessible at the northernmost point of this trail.
Virginia Forrest Recreation Area – New Hope
Length: 4.7 miles
The Virginia Forrest Recreation Area – New Hope trail packs plenty in a relatively short distance. Youngsters and adults alike will love this stretch of trail as it passes through the Bucks County Children’s Museum. The museum has several new exhibits including one that opened last year called “Factory Works,” in which children can design a test track and race their own miniature car. Youths will also enjoy the “Big Dig” where they can discover Bucks County history by digging and unearthing artifacts and fossils. “The Recycled Adventure” teaches guests the importance of recycling while they cross over a covered bridge made of wood reclaimed from a Bucks County bridge to enter the “Cardboard Clubhouse” to play music on recycled instruments.
After visiting the museum, head over to the nearby Friends of the Delaware Canal – Locktender’s House to picnic under shady trees and learn about efforts to restore, preserve and improve the Delaware Canal.
History Buffs will definitely want to stop at the New Hope Historical Society to explore New Hope’s past, present and future. The historical society is located in the 18th-century Georgian-style Parry Mansion, which was the home to the “Father of New Hope” Benjamin Parry and then five generations of the family. Tour guides will take guests through the home’s 11 rooms that reflect 125 years of decorative changes. For more information, visit NewHopeHS.org.
New Hope – Washington Crossing (Upper)
Length: 2.1 miles
The shortest trail on the list is among the best for anthophiles as the Bowman’s Hills Wildflower Preserve is found in this section. The preserve showcases an extraordinary number of diverse plants and flowers native to Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley region. Among the plants and flowers to be found at the preserve are the cardinal flower, American lotus, short-toothed mountain mint and the wild senna.
Visible, although slightly off the trail’s path, is the nearly 90-year-old Bowman’s Hill Tower. Standing at 125 feet tall with a 24-foot base, more than 2,400 tons of materials were used to construct the stone tower, which is a favorite for both locals and tourists. On a clear day, you can see to Trenton, New Jersey, from atop the tower.
Washington Crossing (Upper) – Washington Crossing (Lower)
Length: 4.1 miles
This portion of the D&L Trail connects the upper and lower sections of Washington Crossing Historic Park. In the upper part trail-goers can visit the Thompson-Neely Homestead, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and a good example of vernacular 18th-century architecture. The home, which was constructed in 1740, was once used as an army hospital — a young officer named James Monroe received treatment inside. The David Library of American Revolution can be found near the lower end of the trail. As a nonprofit educational institution, the library’s mission is to collect and disseminate information on American history circa 1750 to 1800.
Washington Crossing (lower) – Yardley
Length: 4.6 miles
Users near the southernmost point of this trail can visit the Garden of Reflection, which is a 9/11 memorial dedicated to the 18 members of Bucks County who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. The memorial was designed by a Yardley architect and leads from sorrowful reminders of tragedy and grief toward luminous symbols of hope, peace and celebration of life. Walkers and runners will want to return this fall for the annual 5K that raises money for the endowment to preserve the memorial for future generations. Learn more by visiting 9-11MemorialGarden.org.
On the other end of the trail, users will find the 500-acre Washington Crossing Historic Park, which preserves the site where George Washington crossed the Delaware River and turned the tide of the Revolutionary War. The park hosts a plethora of events ranging from Easter egg hunts to brewfests. There’s plenty to see and do in this spacious historic park, so guests are encouraged to take one of the six daily guided tours to learn more. Tours cost $6 per person. For more information, visit WashingtonCrossingParl.org.
Length: 1 mile
The Chester Valley Trail is a work in progress. Currently a mile long with plans to eventually be 22 miles in length, the trail features a bridge over the Schuylkill Expressway in King of Prussia but will eventually take visitors over the Schuylkill River in Norristown and provide access to view the new fish ladder at the Norristown Dam as well as opportunities to visit shops, restaurants and art galleries along the way. The trail is paved and 12 feet wide — perfect for walkers, joggers, bikers and rollerbladers. A major point of interest along this trail is the King of Prussia Mall, which at 2.9 million square feet is the second largest shopping mall in the U.S.
Length: 3 miles
Bikers, walkers, joggers and rollerbladers frequent this 12-foot wide, paved trail from Conshohocken to Germantown Pike. If while out for a stroll you get the urge to do some shopping, the trail passes by stores such as Ikea, Home Depot and the Metroplex shopping center. The Hope Lodge, a historic building located in Fort Washington that was used by Continental troops during the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign in the American Revolution, is located along the Cross County Trail. So too are Washington State Park and the Wissahickon Valley County Park.
Length: 5.4 miles
Completed just three years ago, this 12-foot wide gravel path provides level hiking and views of the Pennypack Creek valley. With a number of meadows and huge trees, the trail is an ideal spot for bird watching. The Pennypack Trail starts at the Rockledge Borough Park at the intersection of Robbins and Rockledge Avenues and then immediately crosses over Shady Lane and the new 165-foot steel bridge, which is 35 feet above a small stream valley. Located on the former Fox Chase-Newton rail line, the trail takes users past the site of the infamous 1921 train crash that claimed the lives of more than 25 people.
Length: 20 miles
The “Perky,” as it’s known to many, follows the route of the Perkiomen Creek from Oaks to Green Lane Borough. The trail connects to the Schuylkill River Trail and the Audubon Loop. The trail also connects to many public parks and historic sites including the Lower Perkiomen Valley Park, Central Perkiomen Valley Park, Green Lane Park and the Pennypacker Mills. Civil War buffs will certainly want to visit the Pennypacker Mills as the Colonial Revival mansion was used by George Washington as a headquarters prior to the Battle of Germantown, as well as a field hospital for injured soldiers after the battle. Many Civil War reenactments occur at the Pennypacker Mills. The “Perky” is a mixture of crushed stone and paved roads. Biking, walking, jogging, horseback riding and cross-country skiing are among the popular activities.
Length: 18 miles
This multi-use trail runs from Philadelphia to Mont Clare and was built on the Pennsylvania Railroad right of way and parallels the Schuylkill River as it passes through various townships and boroughs. Recognized as a National Recreation Trail by the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Trail System, the Schuylkill River trail is a popular spot for biking, rollerblading, jogging and walking.
While on the trail make a stop at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove to view the center’s six non-releasable birds. Among them is Oden, a 10-year-old Great Horned Owl raised in captivity. Conrad, an 8-year-old Blue Jay, found his way to Mill Grove from Tri-State Area Rescue after he was taken from his nest as a fledgling and illegally raised in captivity. He never learned to socialize with other birds, but he has a friendly temperament and loves being around people. For more information, visit JohnJames.Audubon.org.
Length: 20 miles (when completed)
The Wissahickon Trail is currently a walking path that stretches from the Wissahickon Creek from Stenton Avenue in Whitemarsh Township to a point near Lansdale Borough, but will be developed for multi-use between Forbidden Drive and Fort Washington State Park. Points of interest along this trail including several schools – Mount St. Joseph Academy, Carson Valley School and Chestnut Hill College – as well as the Morris Arboretum and the Erdenheim Farm.
The Highlands, a historic building and property at 7001 Sheaff Lane that was built more than 220 years ago, is accessible from the trail. This 44-acre site features a two-acre garden and hosts a number of events each year. Of particular note is the Working Dog Demonstration in October that provides an understanding of the jobs performed by canines. The event showcases various K-9 units, emotional support dogs and assistance dogs. Learn how working dogs supported the families that have called The Highlands home through the years. For more, visit HighlandsHistorical.org.