Out of all the states in America, Pennsylvania is home to some of the best hiking trails. With everything from gentle nature walks to strenuous climbs up rocky peaks, there’s a trail for everyone who loves being outdoors. So if you’re looking for a great way to explore the natural beauty of this state, be sure to check out this list of 14 top hiking trails in Pennsylvania. No matter where you choose to hike, you’re sure to enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air. So lace up your boots and get ready for an adventure.
1. Montour Trail
The Montour Trail is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Pennsylvania that stretches for 63 miles through Allegheny County and Washington County, Pennsylvania. This is a non-motorized multi-use trail that follows an abandoned railroad track as it goes through woodlands and grasslands. Hikers will enjoy interesting relics left over from its history, including old rail lines and even mines.
The trail here is beginner-friendly as it has only slight inclines along the way, which makes for an easy hike. You can either take a day-long hike or hike for several days as there are designated camping areas along the trail. There are also many historical sites that you can include as detours from the main trail.
I believe that you should consider this trail if you are new to hiking or if you have children to take along. The trail is easy, safe, and can be done in small sections, making it great for families with small kids.
2. Wolf Rocks Loop Trail
The Wolf Rocks Loop Trail is a beautiful trail located in the Forbes State Forest, and it is one of the best hiking trails in Pennsylvania. This 10-mile loop trail is part of the Laurel Highlands Trail System, which takes you through some of the most picturesque views of different ecosystems. There are many scenic overlooks where you can view the stream valleys below and the beauty of nature surrounding you.
This trail is not only a great place for hiking but also a great place for bird-watchers and photographers. It is a challenging trail that offers some of the best views of Forbes State Forest. I suggest wearing boots with good traction because the pathway can become slippery after rain or snow, which is also when it gets more dangerous, so be careful. You might also see some wildlife along the way.
3. Heritage Rail Trail County Park
The Heritage Rail Trail County Park is one of the top hiking trails in Pennsylvania’s York County. The trail moves through rolling hills and grasslands as it stretches for 21 miles from York Township to Maryland.
This trail runs along an old railroad line and has several remnants of its history along the way. It is a family-friendly and recreational hiking trail as it is a flat and easy trail with lots of trees, grasslands, and a creek to look at. There are also plenty of picnic areas along the trail where you can stop and rest before continuing on your hike.
The best part is that you can hike this trail in various lengths depending on the area you want to explore. This is because it has 24 sections parceled by distance, and you choose where to start and where to stop.
I suggest picking up the Trailblazer brochure as a guide to the park as it lists the landmarks and directions. In some sections, you must do a lot of backtracking, but this was easy enough to handle.
4. Quehanna Trail
The Quehanna Trail is a system of trails totaling 75 miles that crosses through Moshannon and Elk State Forests. The trail can be strenuous for some people, but many areas offer easy hiking, like the Quehanna Wild Area. The loop can be hiked in five to seven days. But you will only need a weekend for the “mini-loops” that start at Parker Dam State Park and go through Moshannon State Forest.
My favorite part about this trail was the diversity in the landscape it offers. It goes through lush forest lands filled with evergreens and passes over creeks and ridges offering views of the surrounding region. There are also wetlands in some sections that attract various types of wildlife. Note that the trails are well marked with orange blazes for easy navigation.
I believe this would be an excellent activity for any outdoor enthusiast who wants to explore various terrains while taking in the scenery along the way. The difficulty level of this hike depends on which route you choose to take. There are paths for beginners and more advanced hikers.
5. Great Allegheny Passage
The Great Allegheny Passage is another one of the best hiking trails in Pennsylvania. It stretches 156 miles from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, and connects with the C&O Canal Towpath in Washington, D.C.
This trail is more for hikers who enjoy some level of difficulty because it can be steep in parts and has several road crossings. But if you decide to take on the entire journey, there are plenty of towns and historical sites where you can rest or grab a bite to eat along the way. You might consider stopping at Ohiopyle State Park, which offers camping spots during your adventure.
I love this trail because it takes you through various landscapes, including forests full of wildlife, mountains, farmland, and even small towns. You can also see old railways along the way. One cool thing about the trail is that it is marked, thus enabling you to know the distance to the next town.
6. Golden Eagle Trail
The Golden Eagle Trail is another great choice for hikers in Pennsylvania. This 9 miles loop trail is located in Northcentral Pennsylvania and has some of the best views you can find in this state. Some of these include towering rock formations, deep forest gorges, mountain streams, and waterfalls, giving you a glimpse of Pennsylvania’s natural beauty. And since this hike is mostly shaded by trees, it provides a lot of shade, thus making it easier when hiking during summer.
This is more of an advanced hiking trail that requires much stamina. There are many areas along this trail that lead to steep ridges and hills where you can look out over the wilderness. Generally, this is an excellent place for a long day hike or even overnight camping trips due to its isolated nature.
7. Kinzua Skywalk
The Kinzua Skywalk is a 624-foot-long glass skywalk located at the Kinzua Bridge State Park in an abandoned railroad bed. The skywalk lets hikers walk on the top of the steel arch bridge that carries an inactive railroad line over Kinzua Valley. The scenic viewpoint provides views of the forested gorge roughly 300 feet below, giving you a different perspective of the wilderness.
In addition, the Kinzua skywalk is part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, which preserves abandoned railroads as trails for people to enjoy. So I definitely think this trail should be considered the best place for hiking in Pennsylvania if you want something that also provides historical value.
There are also a number of trails within the park that range from easy to difficult. Plus, they provide an amazing sight of the bridge from a lower perspective.
8. The Standing Stone Trail
The Standing Stone Trail is a challenging hiking trail with steep ascents and descents. It is also one of the best trails in Pennsylvania because of its natural splendor. It stretches for only 84 miles, and it is part of a larger1600-mile Great Eastern Trail that stretches from Alabama to New York.
This trail was named 2016 Hiking Trail of the Year by The Nature Conservancy. It has a beautifully rugged path as you hike through hills, forests, and even a wooden bridge. You can see large rock formations as well as cascading waterfalls as you hike through the state forest. However, note that it requires more stamina to hike as you are constantly going up or downhill.
The trails are clearly marked with orange blazes, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost. There are also permitted areas for a campsite along the way where you can stop and rest if needed.
9. The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is one of the longest hiking trails in the country and covers over 2,000 miles. To complete, it will take several months. The trail crosses Pennsylvania and passes through various areas, including Boiling Springs, Duncannon, and the Delaware Water Gap. And this section that runs through Pennsylvania is 229 miles long.
This hike will take you through some amazing landscapes such as mountains, forests, rolling hills, and rivers. You can either choose to do a day hike or stay overnight at one of the many campsites you will find along the way. Also, this is a great long-distance hiking trail as there are a lot of options for shorter hikes within it. So, if you plan on taking this entire trail in one trip, make sure to research your itinerary well.
10. Balanced Rock
This trail in Trough Creek State Park is named after the Balanced Rock, a sandstone boulder perched on top of each other (hence its name). The Balanced Rock Trail at Pennsylvania is unique for this list. This is because it only offers a 0.12-mile hike to the Balanced Rock, yet it has a little bit of everything.
The first part of this trail takes you through a beautiful forested area on a wide gravel path to the Balanced Rock. Here, you can marvel at the strangely balanced sandstone outcropping and the beautiful forest from the lookout area. And after enjoying this area, you can continue past this point for more exploring or turn back.
This is one of the best hiking trails in Pennsylvania to enjoy some unique geological features and have a fun hike. If you’re visiting, go early in the morning or during the week as this area gets crowded on weekends.
11. Turkey Path Trail
This is a 2-mile trail that goes through the Leonard Harrison State Park and offers amazing views of Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. The hike is fairly strenuous, with steep climbs and descents through rocky terrain. But it is definitely worth it if you like tough treks.
The trail takes hikers through a beautiful forest with bridges, wooden walkways, and stunning waterfalls. There are several lookout points along the trail that provide incredible views of the canyon. Be sure to stop at the visitor center to pick up a map and information about the weather in the park.
Overall, I recommend this hike for anyone who wants a truly unique experience filled with great exercise, despite its short length.
12. Cook Forest State Park Trail Network
The Cook Forest State Park Trail Network is a system of trails located in the southern tip of Allegheny National Forest. The park, which straddles the scenic ClarClarion River, has more than 47 miles of well-marked trails that provide views of dramatic rock formations and wildlife habitats. There are several different loops to choose from depending on your comfort level or how much time you have for hiking.
But what makes this trail system so amazing? It’s because you get to see all of the beautiful forests, which are made up of old-growth forests and wildlife. However, some sections can be steep with loose leaves over wet rocks after a rainfall. And there are some Cliffside sections where handholds don’t exist. Therefore, you need to be careful during your hike.
As someone who has hiked this trail, I can say that it’s one of the best hiking trails in Pennsylvania because of its natural beauty and the areas you get to explore. I would recommend visiting this park if you are looking for a different scenic experience than what is offered at other parks throughout the state.
13. Dingmans Ferry Creek Trail
The Dingmans Ferry Creek Trail is another great hiking trail in Pennsylvania located in Pike County. This 0.5-mile boardwalk trail winds through some of the most diverse forest landscapes. The trail has easy-to-moderate difficulty because it goes up and down at times. However, it is something that any person who likes to hike can do.
This is a great hiking trail for people of all ages as it is only a few miles long and flat the whole way through. The best part of this nature trail is that it goes through the 80-feet Silverthread Falls. This makes the journey relaxing as you get to see running water, plants, and possibly even some wildlife. This is one reason that makes it a favorite for hikers in Pennsylvania.
14. The Marilla Trail System
The Marilla Trail System is a hidden gem for hikers in Pennsylvania. This is a network of short trails that vary from easy, moderate to difficult. In addition, it stretches along with a number of ridges and peaks, which offer beautiful views and plenty of wildlife to see.
Some of the popular trails that you can explore are the 1-mile Marilla Bridges Trail, 2-mile Marilla Rock Trail, and the 2.4-mile Cornelius Connection trail. These trails have a lot to offer and are well maintained, making them easy for hikers or backpackers. Note that the Marilla trail system has many trails that branch off until they reach different destinations. So it is best to have a map of the area with you to determine the most suitable trail for you.
If you are a nature lover who is up for some outdoor activity, taking on one of these hiking trails in Pennsylvania will offer you the adventure you want. They offer different landscapes and views that will allow you to appreciate nature’s beauty. Finally, I hope this article has provided enough information for you to consider visiting at least one of these great hiking spots in Pennsylvania. Enjoy!