Outdoors Camping

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Wharton State Park - Ellen Ellen Tevis/for PhillyVoice

Wharton State Forest

September 12, 2017

The top 5 places to go camping outside of Philly

As summer comes to an end and the weather cools down, there’s no better time to escape the city for the night and experience the majesty of the great outdoors. And here’s the good news – you don’t have to travel that far to pitch a tent and have a memorable camping trip. It’s the perfect way to leave the stress of your daily routine behind for a few days and clear your mind. You’ll also get plenty of exercise, breath in oxygen-packed fresh air, and soak up some sun (a.k.a. vitamin D).

Here are five incredible camping destinations just outside the city:

Wharton State Forest

If it’s oneness with nature you’re craving, you can’t really beat Wharton State Forest. Just a short trip into New Jersey takes you to scenic hiking trails and an unlimited supply of peace and quiet. Owls, eagles, hawks, and hummingbirds are just some of the wildlife you can expect to see as you trek through this beautiful forest. With beautiful lakes and rivers, Wharton is also a prime spot to go boating or canoeing.

Wharton offers all the traditional camping options you’d expect, but if you really want to commit, go to the Mullica River or Lower Forge campgrounds, which can only be reached on foot or by canoe. It’s important to note there’s no running water, so just make sure you know what you’re getting into before choosing this option.

French Creek State Park

French Creek is one of the biggest state parks in the Philadelphia area and home to everything you’d want in a camping trip. About an hour northeast of the city, you’ll find 7730 acres of contiguous forest — the largest block between Washington D.C. and New York City. There are plenty of cabin and cottage options with access to hot water if ‘roughing it’ isn’t your thing.

During your trip, burn some calories hiking miles of scenic trails or go fishing at Hopewell Lake. If you’re looking for something different, try mountain biking, horseback riding, and orienteering – all great cardiovascular workouts. French Creek is an excellent option for the first-time camper, right outside of the city.

Hibernia County Park

If you want to set up camp near water, Hibernia County Park is the way to go. About an hour away and situated right next to the 94-acre Chambers Lake, you can go fishing or boating to your heart’s content. The lake is stocked with warm-water fish, including Panfish, Channel Catfish, and Largemouth Bass. If you’re looking for cold-water fish (like Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout), the Brandywine Creek is nearby waiting for you. If that’s not your speed, there are plenty of beautiful spots to go hiking or have a picnic, too.

White Oak Campground

If you want to get away from it all but still have the convenience of nearby attractions, then White Oak Campground is the ideal spot. Located in the heart of Amish country, what it sacrifices in traditional outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing, it makes up for with its peaceful atmosphere and open meadows. It’s a great spot for a family outing with all the amenities you need to be comfortable while still enjoying the camping experience.

Hickory Run Campground

Hickory Run Campground is an 80-acre site offering a truly customizable camping experience. Whether you want an old-school cabin or something more modern and full-service, Hickory Run has just what you’re searching for. This campground is located about an hour and a half away from the city and boasts a full docket of activities ranging from trout fishing to special events like the bull and pig roasts. It’s the perfect weekend getaway for families wanting to experience nature while still having plenty of family-friendly activities available.

Whether it’s an exhilarating trail hike or some peaceful time on the water, the perfect destination is out there waiting for you. No matter which spot you pick, you’ll discover new adventures that will strengthen your physical well-being and create memories that will last a lifetime.