Ridley Creek State Park
2,606 acres — 18.0 miles of trails
What’s to love
Just 16 miles from Center City, Ridley Creek State Park is the perfect quick trip for local hikers and trail runners. The park itself is large and has something for everyone: 13 miles of hiking trails over a landscape of rolling hills, plus an additional 5 miles of paved multi-use trail along Ridley Creek. There are corners that are peaceful and uncrowded, and corners that are very popular.
The park was once the largest private undeveloped property in the area and included several farmsteads and mills within its bounds; a collection of these historic buildings still exist today, in various states of ruin and active use. Ridley Creek State Park is also home to a proper mansion with a formal garden, a horse stable, and plenty of picnicking, fishing, camping, and recreational facilities. This is a great place to go if you’re interested in native plants and animals, as it’s some of the nicest, most established woods around.
Tips and quirks
- Tyler Arboretum connects to the park’s southwest side. There’s a fee for admittance here, but it’s a gem! The hiking trails here are some of my favorite natural places near Philly. You can expect to see lots of spring wildflowers, hard-to-find plants, birds, and massive specimen trees on display here.
- Some really unusual areas are nearby, such as “Delaware County’s last serpentine barren” (the rocks are green!), and a research orchard that’s part of the efforts to restore the blighted American Chestnut.
- On weekends between April and November, you can visit the Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation—a working replica of a late 18th-century farmstead.
- I also enjoy hiking the yellow trail at the park’s southeast side. Along the way you’ll pass several historic ruins, climb some hills capped by large boulders and wind through a few evergreen groves.
- Hike up to the park’s highest point, Hunting Hill, for a peek at the Russell Cemetery, where several members of a local family were laid to rest in the early to mid-19th century.
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Last updated: April 16, 2021