Make use of all the outdoor gear you bought in the summer! Just because temperatures are low doesn’t mean you can’t hike to high altitudes and discover some beautiful sights in the process. Instead of spending another winter inside, grab a mask, bundle it up, and enjoy all of the natural eye candy Pennsylvania has to offer.
The National Memorial Arch | Delmas Lehman / Shutterstock
The place where George Washington and Continental Army troops were stationed in 1777 and 1778 is now a park with countless historical treats such as Washington headquarters, converted huts for wooden soldiers, and 30 miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails. Be on the lookout for photo-worthy locations and scenes like the National Memorial Arch and the Dozens of species of birds that calls the park home. (Bonus Points: It’s accessible by bike from Philly via the Schuylkill River Trail.)
Brian Youchak / Shutterstock
Lambertville, New Jersey and New Hope, Pennsylvania
This bridge connects the cities of Lambertville and New Hope and stretches the width of the Delaware River. It is available to both pedestrians and drivers. In the evenings, you can spend a golden hour over the river while strolling back and forth between the river towns, which are equally picturesque with their antique shops, restaurants and boutiques.
Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Run State Park is home to Boulder Field, a 720,000-square-foot area of boulders (accessible by car or a six-mile round-trip route). It also offers 40 miles of hiking trails. Hike to Hawk Falls (1 mile), view the Lehigh River and Lehigh Gorge State Park along the Fireline Trail, or take a dip in Sand Spring Lake in the warmer months.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Although the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area extends for more than 200 miles, the Delaware River cuts and creates the Kittatinny Ridge in the southernmost portion of the park near Stroudsburg the Water gap itself. This scenic natural phenomenon is covered in trees and offers a stark contrast between the sky above and the river below. There are a number of Hikes that lead to lookout points on both the NJ and Pennsylvania sides of the river, including the difficult one, a mile Mt. Tammany Trail.McConnell’s Mill and Waterfall | Sherman Cahal / Shutterstock
About 40 minutes north of Pittsburgh is this 2,546 acre park with its eponymous mill and covered bridge, both built in the 19th century. (Park at the Kildoo Picnic Area and go down a few steps to check it out.) With 11 miles of trails traversing Slippery Rock Creek Gorge, you have a multitude of options if you want to tour the mill and covered bridge . Waterfalls and streams.
Pine Creek Gorge | Nicholas A. Tonelli / FlickrWellsboro
Colloquially known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, this 47-mile canyon has a number of overlooks that offer breathtaking views of the canyon up to 1,400 feet below it at its deepest point. Make your way to Leonard Harrison and Colton Point State Parks, where you can hike short distances to get the best viewpoints. Pitch a tent and camp or traverse 177 miles of snowmobile trails during the winter months. Lehigh Canal | Jim / FlickrDollar, Carbon, Lehigh, Alfalfa, Northampton Counties
For a scenic bike ride, the Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail follows the Lehigh River for up to 142 miles. Either BYO bike or rent your own and ride old train tracks and enjoy waterfalls, lookouts, canals and other wildlife. Because the trail is so extensive, there are many entry points and segments so you should be able to avoid the crowds.
Ricketts Glen State Park | Brook Ward / FlickrLucerne, Sullivan, and Columbia counties
Covering 13,193 acres, you’ll encounter 26 miles of hiking trails that range from less than a mile to just over seven and 22 waterfalls. The seven-mile trail, while the most difficult, offers views of almost all of the waterfalls mentioned. The extensive park has more than 100 campsites. So make a fire and spend the night in the open air.Worlds End State Park | Jackie Allen / FlickrForksville
In the valley of Loyalsock Creek, Worlds End State Park is picturesque, surrounded by mountains and forests. There is a small swimming area in front of the creek if you want to cool off quickly during your 59 mile hike on the Loyalsock Trail that follows the ridges and creeks. (Don’t worry, there are many, much shorter routes.) The creek is also open to kayakers and fishermen.Bushkill Falls Shinya Suzuki / FlickrPoconos
Called the Niagara of Pennsylvania, this collection of eight waterfalls requires a small entry fee. However, the site has plenty to do, including four hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty ranging from 15 minutes to two hours, bird watching, and fishing. Just over a two-hour drive from Philly, the falls make a scenic day trip from the city.The Pinnacle Trail | Daniel Hartwig / FlickrBerks County
This 10 mile, round-trip hike on the Pennsylvania stretch of the Appalachian Trail offers some of the best views of the Lehigh Valley. While it’s a bit steep to get to the top, it’s well worth the effort bird watching and nature looking up. While this trail can sometimes attract crowds, hikers did comment on the easy way to practice social distancing.Ohiopyle State Park | Random Michelle / FlickrOhiopyle
Ohiopyle is located in southwest Pennsylvania, near the border between West Virginia and Maryland. It is one of the most visited state parks in Keystone State. In Ohiopyle, visitors have a choice of outdoor activities – including camping, hiking, and hunting – but the park is probably best known for the 14-mile section of the Youghiogheny River, which contains some of the best white-water rafting on the east coast. Ride a bike along the river for scenic views.Presque Isle State Park | Jaime Dillen-Seibel / FlickrErie
Not many people think about vacationing on the shores of Lake Erie, but when you see the view of Presque Isle State Park, a 3,200-acre peninsula jutting into the lake, you might think twice about next summer to go east. Presque Isle has all the things you would associate with a trip to the shore – sandy beaches, loads of outdoor activities, and that one person who’s been out in the sun for far too long.Clarion River | Yayad / FlickrCooksburg
Two hours north of Pittsburgh is Cook Forest, an 11,500-acre state park of mountainous hills, white pine and hemlocks, and the Clarion River. It’s one of the lesser-known state parks, which doesn’t make it any less beautiful. While you can always take a hike, one of the best ways to experience Cook Forest is to take a kayak, canoe, or subway for a leisurely swim down the river.Cherry Springs State Park | Cherry Springs Dark Sky Fund / AssociationCoudersport
Unfortunately, for most of us who live on the east coast, light pollution is a serious concern when trying to sniff the stars – unless you drive to Cherry Springs State Park in northern PA. The park is one of the few “dark skies” areas on the east coast, and the location is so isolated that under optimal conditions you can see tons of stars, asteroids, Venus, Milky Way, and more with the naked eye. So keep that in mind the next time the blood moon appears in 2032.Kinzua Bridge | WikimediaMcKean County
Prior to the 2003 tornado that took out the middle section of the structure, the Kinzua Bridge was a 300-foot high, 2,052-foot long trestle bridge that was a connection point for the local railroad across Kinzua Creek. Aware that rebuilding the bridge was not economically viable, the state made the site a tourist destination where visitors can walk to the end of the bridge and view the expansive surroundings from the glass-bottomed observation deck.
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Allie Volpe is a writer and lives in Philadelphia. She hasn’t slept in days. Follow her on Twitter @allieevolpe.