Hikes with a splash
August 20, 2014

When we are planning where to go for a family hike, there is nothing my boys (age 2.5 and 9) enjoy more than going to a location that has some sort of body of water for wading, swimming, exploring, or just tossing rocks. It’s an activity that keeps them engaged and having fun for hours. Whether it is a destination that allows swimming or simply has a stream to walk in and look for interesting objects, it is sure to be a good time. Below are some of our top picks for having fun in and around the water.

Jacobsburg State Park

Located in Wind Gap, Jacobsburg State Park has several easy-to-reach areas of shallow water along Bushkill Creek that are nice for wading in and skipping rocks. It’s a beautiful shaded park that is a perfect destination for hot days, and it’s a great place to hike and picnic. Check out this previous post on spending the day at Jacobsburg.

Blue Marsh Lake

Blue Marsh Lake is located in Berks County and offers hiking, biking, boating, swimming, and fishing. The large swimming area has a nice sandy beach. If you are looking for a less crowded area, there are various inlets for wading or exploring in the water.

Mauch Chunk Lake Park

Located in Jim Thorpe, Mauch Chunk has a large, clean, well-maintained sandy beach and plenty of room for swimming. Lifeguards are present daily from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in-season. The park is also a great place to hike and camp. If you visit Mauch Chunk Lake, be sure to go into the town of Jim Thorpe where there are neat little shops and great restaurants.

Nockamixon State Park

Nockamixon State Park is in Bucks County, and although swimming in the lake is prohibited, there are numerous spots along the creeks and runs where you can wade, toss rocks, and have fun along the shore of the lake. The main parking area is situated along the water and has convenient picnic areas right there. If you are looking for a more secluded area to picnic and see plenty of wildlife, park in one of the lots beyond the Environmental Center. This is where my family typically goes and we always spot deer and interesting birds. For more on taking a trip to Nockamixon State Park, read this past post.

Trexler Nature Preserve

This  nature preserve owned by Lehigh County is one of our favorite local summertime destinations for hiking and playing in the water. We often take a picnic lunch or dinner, bring along some buckets and shovels, and spend hours walking up and down Jordan Creek looking at minnows in the water, catching tadpoles, and skipping rocks. On your way out of the Preserve, you may even see some of the bison that are part of the Lehigh Valley Zoo.    

Wissahickon Valley Park

This park is part of a 10,500-acre park system that is located in Philadelphia that runs from Manayunk to Chestnut Hill. Wissahickon Creek runs parallel to Forbidden Drive and is great for tossing rocks and exploring the water edges. It is an amazingly scenic park that will make you forget that you are in the city. There are signs along the Wissahickon Green Ribbon Trail noting historical sites as well as signs indicating where creek access is located. Be sure to use caution along the water edges or look for shallow areas, as some of the access points are deep and have a stronger current. This is not a location recommended for wading or swimming, although I have seen families doing this.


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Help a neighbor: Whether it’s the season for shoveling snow, raking leaves, or weeding their garden, your kids will get double benefits from being outdoors and building community.

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