By Brian Bingaman
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Uuuurgh, I ate too much.
We hear you. The time has come to get moving, in a sensible way, and burn those calories. Here are just a few select destinations ideal for making you forget that it’s getting colder outside, and that you feel guilty for overindulging on Thanksgiving. Invite friends and family for a hike, a short walk or stroll and enjoy. You might catch of glimpse of the varied wildlife that call these areas home.
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Wissahickon Valley Park: 8708 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, (215) 247-0417.
Home to Forbidden Drive, a walking/biking/bridle trail that follows the Wissahickon from Manayunk through the valley, there are also miles of side trails that wind through the wooded hillside. Located in a historic district, the park was once home to dozens of mills and factories in the 18th and 19th centuries and also was an inspirational spot for Edgar Allen Poe and John Greenleaf Whittier. The Wissahickon Environmental Center at the Andorra Natural Area offers a variety of programs. A popular access point is the Valley Green Parking Area on Wises Mill Road.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary: 1700 Hawk Mountain Road, near Kempton, (610) 756-6961.
Well known to nature enthusiasts as a prime viewing location for observing hawks, eagles and falcons, Hawk Mountain communications specialist Gigi Romano pointed out that the fall migration season for birds of prey is still in effect through Dec. 15. The nine trails are open dawn to dusk year-round, and trail fees are $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for children 6 and up. Members get in for free. Trail maps are available at www.hawkmountain.org. Upcoming special events include a Holiday Open House at the visitor center on Nov. 26 and a Christmas Bird Count for Kids on Dec. 3.
Evansburg State Park: 851 Mayhall Road, near Collegeville, (610) 409-1150.
The park is so big that it’s in parts of Lower Providence, Lower Salford, Skippack, Towamencin and Worcester townships. There are six miles of trails, ranging from easy walking to moderate difficulty.
White Clay Creek Preserve: 405 Sharpless Road, Landenberg, (610) 274-2900.
Only three miles north of Newark, Del., the preserve shares a boundary with Delaware’s White Clay Creek State Park. Terrain varies from gradually falling to steep, with some flat bottomlands. White Clay Creek has been designated by Congress as a National Wild and Scenic River. For more on that, go to www.whiteclay.org.
ChesLen Preserve: 1199 Cannery Road, Coatesville, (610) 486-6288.
Part of the Natural Lands Trust, ChesLen has more than 13 miles of unpaved trails ranging from easy to moderate. There are points on the property where visitors can reportedly gaze for miles in any direction and see virtually no signs of modern development. In addition to being an Audubon Society Important Birding Area, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources designated the Unionville Barrens portion of the preserve as a Pennsylvania Wild Plant Sanctuary.
Chester Valley Trail, trailheads in Exton and King of Prussia:
Formerly a railroad line, the 13-mile trail was built as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Phase 2 of the trail’s construction is supposed to connect the trail’s three sections, adding 7.6 miles and linking to the Schuylkill River Trail and Valley Forge National Historic Park. The Patriots Path connects the region’s Revolutionary War monuments. The trail runs through Battle of the Clouds Park, the site of a 1777 battle between Washington’s and Cornwallis’ troops cut short by pouring rain.
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum: 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., Tinicum Township, (215) 365-3118.
It offers nearly eight miles, in two wide loops, of crushed stone trail, exploring the Tinicum Marsh, open meadows and woodlands, where you can bird watch and observe wildlife. According to www.traillink.com, the park’s pathway is part of an effort called “The Circuit” to connect trails throughout the Philadelphia region. The Delaware River runs through the park, and it’s across I-95 from the Philadelphia International Airport. In fact, you can get to the east end of the trail from exit 14 off 95 onto Bartram Avenue (turn right onto 84th Street, then left on Lindbergh Boulevard). To get to the west end of the trail, take exit 9B to Wanamaker Avenue/Route 420.
Ridley Creek State Park: 1023 Sycamore Mills Road, Media Borough, (610) 892-3900.
One of the park’s highlights is a five-mile paved, multi-use trail along Sycamore Mills and Forge roads, where you’ll see waterfalls. There are also more than 13 miles of hiking trails. The main entrance is at Gradyville Road and Sandy Flash Drive in Newtown Square. The Colonial Pennsylvania Plantation is located on the park grounds. A working farm for more than 300 years, the plantation reflects life on a Delaware County farm prior to the American Revolution.
Perkiomen Trail: end points at Hill Road and Lumber Street, Green Lane, and Station Avenue, Upper Providence.
A whopping 19.5 miles, it follows the old right-of-way of the Perkiomen Railway Company line that ran from Oaks to Pennsburg. The trail passes through town centers, parks, the Mill Grove landmark, Pennypacker Mills, parallels the Perkiomen Creek, and meets the Schuylkill River Trail. The Oaks trailhead is in Lower Perkiomen Valley Park off New Mill Road. For the Green Lane trailhead, take Deep Creek Road from Route 29.