Philadelphia February 29, 2020
This One Easy Hike Near Philadelphia Will Lead You Someplace Unforgettable
If you search around for great hikes near Philadelphia, you’ll see a ton of gorgeous waterfall hikes way up at the Delaware Water Gap or in the Poconos. Those hikes are all amazing, and worth doing — if you’re up for waking up before the sun and hiking all day, before returning to Philadelphia well after dark. Sometimes, you don’t have the entire day, but you still want to get out and enjoy the fresh air and some scenery. For a truly underrated hike that will lead you to some fantastic views, head across the river to Pennington, New Jersey, for a short scramble to the top of Baldpate Mountain.
Baldpate Mountain, also called the Ted Stiles Preserve, is a park in Mercer County, New Jersey.
There are several loops and trails you can take from any of their three parking lots, but my favorite trail is a fun and easy hike that will leave you feeling accomplished and show off some unique views and ruins.
You'll want to park in the Fiddler's Creek lot (
find directions here
!) and head up the blue-marked Summit trail. Stay left when the trail forks and the second half of the trail will take you to the very top of the mountain. From there, you can head back down the White-blazed trail, or enjoy the NW loop as an addition to your hike. Whichever route you take, you'll end up at the Welling/Burd Farmstead and Pond, which is the perfect place to end a beautiful hike.
From the Fiddler's Creek parking lot, you'll head up the rocky Summit trail. Though there is a small scramble at the top, this 1.3-mile trail is easy enough for most people, including young children.
Along the way you'll pass some impressive boulders along the side of the trail — if you're daring, climb up them for a nice view!
When you get to the end, you'll find a wide open wildflower field. Follow the path to a clearing at the top.
From the top, you'll have a beautiful panoramic view of Mercer County, the Delaware River and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. For such a short hike up, the view is outstanding!
Up here, you'll find several picnic benches and even a set of binoculars that will let you zoom in on the surrounding nature and towns.
After you've eaten lunch and relaxed at the top, it's time to head down the white-blazed Ridge trail. This is an easy gravel road that runs along the top of the mountain.
If you're feeling up to it, you can stray from the Ridge Trail and take the NW Loop (Red) trail for a nice nature walk. This short loop has some minor elevation changes but will show off the quieter, less traveled side of the mountain. Be warned, though — the first time the trail forks, you'll see a side trail to the left that is blazed white. This is
not the Ridge Trail, but instead a limited use out and back trail. Stay to the right along the NW Loop trail, following red blazes until you return back to the gravel road of the Ridge Trail.
Along the Ridge Trail, you'll run into all sorts of wildlife. Rabbits and box turtles are common, as are chipmunks, deer, and squirrels. Look up to the sky, too — there are always plenty of hawks and other large birds circling!
Eventually, the gravel road of the Ridge Trail gets a little overgrown, and you'll see a blue-blazed trail on your right. Take this down to the Wollen/Burd Farmstead.
There are several beautiful abandoned buildings on this old farmstead, including a farmhouse, a small barn, and a stone shed.
If you don't mind spiders and other bugs, you can get some great photographs from the porch of the farmhouse!
The pond is particularly beautiful. Take a break from your hike and sit down by the water, where you'll see ducks and geese swimming along with many different fish.
The still water makes for perfect reflections.
From the pond, you'll head back down a blue-blazed trail through the meadow until you return to the rocky trail that takes you back to your car.
If you'd rather take a shorter hike, or don't want to walk down the rocky path, you can take the main driveway down from the top of the mountain. This is a gentle grade with some beautiful views of its own, and the bottom of the driveway will bring you back to the Fiddler's Creek lot.
Don't write off the Driveway just because it's paved — the overlooks from stone ledges make this a walk that's worth taking!
Any hike you take on Baldpate Mountain is perfect for the entire family — there are often young children on the trails, and dogs of all sizes can easily walk up even the rockiest section of trail.
Feel free to take a look at the park map and make your own hike — I’ve spent anywhere from just 45 minutes to well over 4 hours hiking these trails, and each time I visit, it’s a new adventure! Be warned that the limited use Pleasant Valley trail is not all that pleasant if it’s rained recently, and the Creek Spur is steep, narrow, and involves a few creek crossings — so it may not be the best for young children. Otherwise, each trail here is worth checking out!
For more great hikes near Philadelphia, see our list of
9 Amazing State Parks Around Philadelphia That Will Blow You Away, and make it a goal to get to each of them this spring.