Norristown Farm Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:Barley Sheaf Drive, Norristown, PA
Hours:Grounds open sunrise to sunset daily; visitor center open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: At visitor center (when open) and Picnic Pavilion; portable toilet at Whitehall Parking Lot
Water/Snacks: Water fountain outside visitor center
Map: (click on Find a Park)

Bike or hike on paths that wind around the fields, woods, and streams of a historical working farm.

Norristown Farm Park
Photo by: Susan Charkes

Norristown Farm Park’s unusual history creates a quirky context for its many opportunities for biking, hiking, and fishing in both natural and agricultural areas. The 690-acre park has been farmed continuously since Colonial times. In 1876, the property was purchased by the state, and for nearly a century it was farmed by patients at the adjacent state psychiatric hospital, providing all the food used at the facility. Nowadays, the state still owns the land (it’s technically a state park) but the park is operated by Montgomery County and its 450 acres are farmed by a tenant farmer.

Eight miles of trails cover the park, seven of them paved and suitable for bikes, strollers, and wheelchairs. Start at the main parking lot and follow the trail along Upper Farm Road in either direction. On a hilltop west of Upper Farm Road is the large (1-acre) Farm Pond where there is a bird blind.

Open farm fields predominate in the park’s western section. A 2-mile paved route starts across the creek from Parking Lot 3 (near the High Arch Bridge) and goes along Whitehall Road (where there’s an alternate entrance and parking lot) and around the reservoir. This is a good biking route for younger kids, though note that there’s no shade around the farm fields. Stony Creek and Kepner Creek wind through and eventually join together through the middle of the park, where the trails are steeper and more forested. Follow the trail down Stony Creek Road or Lower Farm Road to cross the creek and get to a connector trail to the Schuylkill River Trail.

A hiker-only nature trail leads along Stony Creek and can be reached from the Spring House. Both the Stony Creek and Kepner Creek are trout-stocked. Farm Pond is also good for fishing.

Plenty of picnic tables can be found in the park. In winter the trails are open for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Kids also enjoy sledding off Upper Farm Road near Shannon Mansion.

Remember: Dogs must be leashed. Any of the roads or paved trails can be used by park or farm equipment; exercise caution and pay attention.

Plan B:

Elmwood Park Zoo, adjacent to the park, is a great little zoo for young kids.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Shops and restaurants are on West Germantown Pike.


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