Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:8480 Hagys Mill Road, Philadelphia, PA
Hours:Trails and grounds open dawn to dusk daily; visitor center open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fee: Free
Contact:; 215-482-7300

Bathrooms: At main building
Water/Snacks: Water fountain at main building

Print maps at the main building;

Come to a “green island” in the city with easy trails designed for kids to discover nature in the woods, ponds, and fields above the Schuylkill River.

Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
Photo by: Kirk Betts

The 340-acre Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE) is a lush ridgetop and hillside forest in the Roxborough section of the city, with exhibits and trails designed to invite kids to learn about nature while enjoying the outdoors.

SCEE was one of the first urban environmental education centers in the country; it is still the “island of green” for urban dwellers as envisioned in 1965. Start your visit at the main building’s Discovery Center, which provides lowtech, hands-on nature activities that give kids (especially those of elementaryschool age) a great introduction to the plants and wildlife they will discover on the trails outside. Friendly and helpful staff members are happy to share advice that will enhance your kids’ experience.

More than 3 miles of well-maintained trails traverse the grounds. They are all suitable for children, though some are steeper than others. The map (available at the visitor center and online) offers detailed descriptions of the trails. The easiest one to begin with is Towhee Trail, which starts behind the main building and leads down to Cattail Pond, where kids can look for frogs and turtles. The very short Butterfly Meadow Loop explores fields of tall grasses and wildflowers in summer and offers a nice view of the city skyline in winter. Widener Trail, a paved, handicap- and stroller-accessible trail, begins in front of the main building, going to a bird blind.

Around the grounds, signs describe interesting environmental features such as the solar panel array and the “green” aspects of the main building.

SCEE has an artist-in-residence and also hosts year-round art and sculpture exhibits inside (and outside) the main building, all with some environmental focus. Call for more details.

Remember: No pets or food are permitted on the trails.

Plan B:

The Schuylkill River Trail follows along the river below SCEE.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Bring a picnic to the grove near the main building, or head down Ridge Avenue to find shops and restaurants.


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