Pennsylvania has some beautiful (and LONG) trails, but when you are looking for a day hike rather than an epic excursion, there are hundreds of short trails that still lead you somewhere amazing!
Not all of us can conquer the Appalachian Trail (2,189 miles), the Allegheny Trail (330 miles), or even the Loyalsock Trail (59 miles)…but it’s time to dust off your hiking boots because we found 20 incredible hikes around the state that almost anyone can do!
All of these hikes are 5 miles or shorter, but that doesn’t mean they are a walk in the park!
1. Bushkill Falls, Stroudsburg
There are four awesome trails at Bushkill Falls.
The shortest, Green Trail, will take you directly to the main falls (about a 15 minute walk, with no steps). Yellow Trail, which takes about 45 minutes to walk, will take you by the main falls, as well as the Lower Gorge Falls, Laurel Glen, and Upper Canyon.
Blue Trail takes you up to Pennell Falls, an hour-long walk. The longest trail, Red Trail, is about two miles long and takes you to Bridal Veil Falls, as well as all eight of the other falls.
2. The Shawmut Trail, Kinzua Bridge State Park
Kinzua Bridge was constructed in 1882 as a viaduct - the highest and longest in the world at the time (301 ft. tall and 2,053 ft. long). It was reinforced and used by Erie Railroad between 1882 and 1959, when it was abandoned.
The Kinzua Bridge was partially destroyed by a tornado in 2003.
In 2009, reconstruction began to turn the bridge into a pedestrian walkway. It is now Kinzua Sky Walk, which has a partial glass bottom so you can see the collapsed parts of the bridge below.
The Shawmut Trail is two miles long and The Timberdoodle Flat Interpretive Trail is 1.4 miles long. The shorter Bluebird Trail is manageable for wheelchairs and those who need walking assistance.
3. Bridle Trail, Cook Forest State Park
The Bridle Trail in Cook Forest State Park is 4.1 miles long and is rated moderately difficult.
The Bridle Trail is a great place to watch for wildlife - including black bears. The trail takes you through an old growth forest and also serves as a horse trail.
4. Rhododendron Trail, Cook Forest State Park
The Rhododendron Trail is a short 1.2 miles long and moderately difficult.
The trail is part of the Forest Cathedral Hiking Trails and is a favorite in the area.
5. Delaware Water Gap
The 4.3 mile loop along the Delaware River cuts a narrow gap through the Kittatinny Ridge.
Mount Minsi, the ridge on the Pennsylvania side, faces Mount Tammany on the New Jersey Side.
6. Baughman Trail, Ohiopyle State Park
Baughman Trail is 3.4 miles long and has a steep, rocky path that is pretty difficult.
The Baughman Trail passes by the Baughman Rock Overlook, which gives a great view of the Youghiogheny River Gorge.
7. Jonathan Run Trail, Ohiopyle State Park
Jonathan Run Trail is only 1.7 miles long and passes by several small waterfalls.
The Jonathan Run Trail is an easygoing path along Holland Hill Road.
8. Meadow Run Trail, Ohiopyle State Park
The Meadow Run Trail at Ohiopyle State Park is three miles of easy hiking.
Meadow Run Trail passes by the beautiful Cucumber Falls.
9. Presque Isle State Park
There are 15 different trails across Presque Isle State Park and all are shorter than two miles.
The trails are also open to bikes, and you can use them year round.
You can also take leisurely pontoon boat tours through the lagoons. Don't forget to check out the lighthouse.
10. Ringing Rocks Ramble
Located in Ringing Rocks County Park near Upper Black Eddy, PA, the Ramble is about one mile long and isn't difficult, but you will be scrambling all over the rocks.
It may just look like a giant rock pile, but this place is really unique...you are going to want to bring a hammer along with you. (Seriously.) Give the rocks a few taps and you will hear a truly unusual metallic sound.
11. Shades of Death Trail, Hickory Run State Park
Shades of Death Trail sounds scary, but is actually quite beautiful.
The trail is only 1.1 miles long and passes by waterfalls, ponds, and through a rhododendron forest. The trail is listed as moderate, but we think it's pretty easy; rocky in some areas and can be slippery when wet, but it's definitely kid (and dog!) friendly.
12. Shingletown Gap, Rothrock State Forest
The trailhead to Shingletown Gap is easily accessible from State College and there are many trails in the area, so you can choose how long your hike will be.
If you head to the Roman Tower, the trail is 3.8 miles long and takes about 2.5 hours to go round trip. The scenery is beautiful, but the climb to the top of Tussey Mountain is pretty steep.
13. Grand View Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park
This 1.9 mile trail takes you to the highest point on Red Rock Mountain. If you go in June, you will see the mountain laurel in bloom; if you go in July, you will find blackberries growing along the trail.
14. Cole Run Trail, Forbes State Forest
Cole Run Trail is an easy two mile hike through Forbes State Forest that can easily be turned into a three mile loop if you include Cole Run Road. The Cole Run Falls are beautiful.
15. Turkey Path Trail, Pine Creek Gorge
Don't be fooled by the distance of Turkey Path...this is one seriously difficult mile down to the canyon floor.
Turkey Path begins at the at the rim of Colton Point State Park and descends down to Pine Creek.
Along the way, you will find beautiful waterfalls (and wildlife) that make the three-mile round trip back to the top worth the effort.
16. Flat Rock Trail, Linn Run State Park
This quick half-mile jaunt will bring you to a unique area of the stream that flows over a wide, smooth rock bottom. There are several short trails at Linn Run State Park, but this is certainly the easiest.
17. The Falls Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park
This 3.4 mile loop gives you some amazing views of 17 different waterfalls along the way.
The trail is moderately difficult - lots of ups and downs - and make sure you wear sturdy shoes...the rocky path can get slippery.
From Waters Meet, you will see B. Reynolds Falls as you head toward Glen Leigh. From there, you follow Highlands Trail to the Lake Rose parking area, and on to Ganoga Glen.
In Ganoga Glen, you will find the beautiful 94-foot-tall Ganoga Falls!
The whole Falls Trail is a beautiful mossy wonderland.
18. Adams Falls, Ricketts Glen State Park
Adams Falls is just a bonus stop if you are off to take the Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park. Adams Falls sits along Kitchen Creek, and is only about 100 yards from the Evergreen Parking Area (we suggest you continue on along the one mile Evergreen Trail, but Adams Falls really is our favorite part).
19. Canyon Vista Trail, World's End State Park
This four-mile loop has some steep sections, but you will get an unmatched view of Loyalsock Creek from the vista.
Don't forget to visit the Rock Garden on your way.
20. Wolf Rocks Loop Trail, Forbes State Park
This 3.5 mile loop isn't easy...but the view from the vista is spectacular.
The sandstone boulders atop Wolf Rocks give an unmatched view of Linn Run Valley.
We had dozens of other amazing, short trails we wanted to add to this list…which means we will definitely have to make a Part 2! Do you have any favorite 5-mile-or-less hikes that you didn’t see here? Tell us about it in the comments so we can include it in the next one!