Our bustling region has much for travelers to see and do, but we are also fortunate to have a softer, more serene side, marked by an abundance of outdoor activities. When it comes to hiking and walking trails, everyone from open-air enthusiasts to active amblers loves this area’s proximity to nature.
City Strolls and Nature Walks
Lining the east shore of the Susquehanna River is Riverfront Park, a scenic city stretch of the Capital Area Greenbelt. This walkway is located a few blocks from downtown Harrisburg and offers beautiful views of the river and our bridges. Just across the Walnut Street foot bridge is City Island, which offers a one-mile flat loop. Allow plenty of time because you’ll want to stop and see the stadiums, play miniature golf, hop on the train, and watch the Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat paddle by.
A little further from the city’s center is Wildwood Park, a jewel for nature and wildlife lovers looking for a serene stroll. Wildwood has several paved and boardwalk trails which encircle a peaceful lake, dotted with lily pads and water fowl. Don’t miss the Benjamin Olewine III Nature Center, where adults and kids can study flora and fauna in the park.
At the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, families and adventurers can experience more than 500 tranquil acres of Pennsylvania beauty. It’s a must-see for hikers, with easy to difficult treks, yet ideal for families, with trails that can accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Before you go, visit the Center’s galleries of sketches and paintings by wildlife artist, naturalist, and the Center’s namesake: Ned Smith.
If you’re staying in Hershey, families with young children will enjoy the three-mile Bullfrog Valley Park Trail, which follows a pond along Bullfrog Valley Road and ends at Shank Park and playground. Those wishing to make a day of exercise in the outdoors can hike the entire 13.5-mile Jonathan Eshenour Memorial Trail. It traverses much of Derry Township, making it a great route to see the town by foot.
Over the River and Through the Woods
Did you know that the famous Appalachian Trail passes north of Harrisburg? Just a short drive away from the city skyline, you can step onto this famous 2,190-mile route. Avid hikers will enjoy the 8.2-mile Peters Mountain to Victoria Trail, a moderate, wildflower-lined, out and back journey. When you've reached the top, the scenic vistas from the Shock Rock and Table Rock crests illustrate just how beautiful Pennsylvania can be! When it's time to kick off your hiking boots, grab a bite at the legendary Doyle Hotel in Duncannon. The Doyle serves as a welcoming stopover, offering good food, drink and a place to rest for the Trail’s long haul thru-hikers.
Novice hikers and families can tackle a shorter trek on the Trail from Duncannon, one of a handful of towns through which the Trail directly passes. The Hawk Rock Trail is a 1.6-mile moderate path that leads up to the Cove Mountain Duncannon Overlook, known for its gorgeous panorama of the Susquehanna River. This trail is wonderful for observing nature, bird watching, and taking your dog for a beautiful walk!
Next time you visit the region, take a hike! Wait, don’t leave—we meant that literally!