Descriptions of Swarthmore Walks and Trails

Each walk and trail is described below. These descriptions are intended to help you choose a trail you'd like to walk. Once you have chosen a trail you can get the information you need to follow it with a smartphone here, or you can get the information you need to follow it with a printed handout here.

If you will be using a smartphone and the AllTrails app to find and follow trails, note that each trail’s description includes a recommendation as to which map layer to use for that trail. Using map layers is described under the heading “Using Map Layers” here. Note that choosing a map layer is not necessary, it is just something that can be helpful if it is not clear exactly where the route goes.

Town Center Highlights

Swarthmore is a very special community that is reflected in the many features in the heart of the borough. Learn about the community’s history, civic spirit, educational values, volunteerism, and passion for plants. Both the borough and the local Swarthmorean newspaper were established in 1893, and since then the area has grown to meet the needs of families and the College. Notice that there are no “streets” in Swarthmore and that almost all of the avenues in the area are named after colleges. Themes: History, Architecture, Horticulture; Amenities: Gardens, Benches; Surface: Paved, 0.6 miles long; Slope: Flat. 20 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Uneven Sidewalks; Difficulty Rating: Easy Stroll - I walk infrequently, though I’d like to do more. I want to see new things, but not very far off the beaten (i.e. paved) path. A few rises here or there might be OK, but no steep paths or sidewalks, please. Recommended Map Layer: Terrain.

North Campus Highlights

Bring your friends and visitors to see these focal buildings and gardens! Learn a bit of college history, stop to see an art gallery and have something to eat along this easy, short route. If you are lucky, you can pass the Friends Meetinghouse preschool children playing outside! Themes: History, Horticulture Amenities: Campus Views, Gardens, Benches, Emergency Phone; Surface: Paved, Grass, 1.1 miles long; Elevation: Mostly Flat, Inclines, 30 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Wet Grass, Uneven sidewalks; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Wellness Campus Stroll

An easy, flat walking loop with great views down the Magill Walk from Parrish Hall to the Swarthmore Town Center. With many places to sit, and a place to eat, take as long as you wish to enjoy the campus and garden spaces. Themes: Exercise, Kid Friendly; Amenities: Campus Views, Gardens, Benches, Interpretive Panels, Emergency Phones; Surface: Paved, 0.6 miles long; Slope: Mostly flat, 20 ft elevation gain; Hazards: None; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: Easy Stroll. I walk infrequently, though I’d like to do more. I want to see new things, but not very far off the beaten (i.e. paved) path. A few rises here or there might be OK, but no steep paths or sidewalks, please. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Wellness Campus Garden Walk

Enjoy some of the College’s great collections, gardens, and trees along this easy 1-mile walk. There will be many opportunities to sit and enjoy the views and plants. Themes: Exercise, Horticulture Amenities: Campus Views, Gardens, Benches, Interpretive Panels, Kid Friendly, Emergency Phones Surface: Mostly Paved, Grass, 0.9 miles long; Slope: Mostly Flat, some inclines, 16 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Uneven sidewalks, Wet Grass Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Wellness Campus Signature Walk

With few stopping places, zip across campus on this easy, east to west walking loop. But do pause to sit on Parrish Hall’s front porch and enjoy the expansive views down to the train station. This is an excercise route, so no waypoints are described. Theme: Exercise; Amenities: Campus Views, Benches, Emergency Phones; Surface: Paved, 0.9 miles long; Slope: Mostly Flat, 26 ft elevation gain; Hazards: None; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Wellness Campus Incline Walk

Get your cardio workout here by going up and down slopes and stairs! Plenty of variety as you travel around the College’s central open spaces, and walk through sunny and shaded sections such as the wonderful Dawn Redwood Allée. This is an exercise route, so no waypoints are described. Theme: Exercise; Amenities: Campus Views, Benches, Emergency Phones; Surface: Mostly Paved, Grass Section, 1 mile long; Slope: Stairs, Inclines, Flat, 39 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Wet Grass, Ponding; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: Spirited - I enjoy getting my heart going on walks. Nothing beats the thrill of taking on a rewarding climb on varied terrain with inclines, and with some rocks and roots in the pathway. Let’s keep moving –occasional stops only, please. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Town Center Public Gardens

An easy, flat walking loop within Swarthmore Town Center. With many places to sit and places to eat from a sandwich to a full meal, easily accomplished in a brief time or take as long as you wish to enjoy the town center shops and garden spaces. Enjoyment of public life in Swarthmore is enhanced through the natural beauty provided by The Scott Arboretum, the Swarthmore Horticultural Society, and the Swarthmore Garden Club. The Scott Arboretum encompasses the entire Swarthmore College campus and is covered in other trails. The Swarthmore Horticultural Society (SHS) has developed twelve small gardens within the town center that are the main focus of this trail. These town center gardens are designed and maintained by a large number of SHS volunteers and all plants, tools, and other material are entirely funded by private donations. Walk the trail and appreciate how different the town character would be if it had no gardens. Theme: Horticulture; Amenities: Gardens, Benches; Surface: Paved, 0.4 miles long; Slope: Mostly Flat, 7 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Uneven Sidewalks; Emergencies: Call 911; Difficulty Rating: Easy Stroll - I walk infrequently, though I’d like to do more. I want to see new things, but not very far off the beaten (i.e. paved) path. A few rises here or there might be OK, but no steep paths or sidewalks, please. Recommended Map Layer: Terrain.

Campus Art In The Garden

With a focus on sculptures, this walk with inclines and stairs passes by and through enchanting garden spaces. With many opportunities to sit and view the pieces, don’t miss the Scott Arboretum’s backyard pond and gardens, the Calder Stabile, the Bertoia sculpture, and List Gallery. Find the inscription on Leavitt’s ornamental gate that says “Enjoy Playing in the Dirt”! Themes: Art, Horticulture; Amenities: Campus Views, Gardens, Benches, Interpretive Panels, Emergency Phones; Surface: Mostly Paved, Grass, 0.8 miles long; Slope: Flat, Stairs, Inclines, 30 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Wet Grass, Ponding; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Historic South Walking Tour

After the 1876 train station was built and the Borough was incorporated in 1893, Swarthmore attracted commuters and boomed with diverse development. See many styles of architecture dating from the turn of the century and learn about the unique history of several of the Borough’s churches, schools, and residences. Notice that there are no “streets” in Swarthmore and that almost all of the avenues in the central area are named after colleges. Themes: History, Architecture; Amenities: Benches; Surface: Paved, 2 miles long; Slope: Mostly Flat, 43 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Uneven Sidewalks, Street Crossings; Emergencies: Call 911; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: Terrain.

Town to Crum Meadow and Woods

A trail with incredible variety! Sections include open meadows and woods, paved sidewalks, gravel roads, and dirt trails, a babbling brook and town bustle. See the Holly plant collection while enjoying meadow plants and views of Crum Creek, and then return to the town center for a meal or refreshments. There are two possible trail entrance starting points, in addition to an alternate route option (see Waypoint “Crum Woods Service Road Entrance”). Theme: Exercise, Nature, Horticulture; Amenities: Creek Views, Woods, Gardens; Surface: Paved, Sidewalks, Gravel, Dirt, 1.7 miles long; Slope: Flat Sections, Inclines, Timber Steps, 49 ft elevation gain  Hazards: Roots and other tripping hazards, Ponding, Mud; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E on the map) or call the college Public Safety 610-328-8333; Difficulty Rating: Spirited. I enjoy getting my heart going on walks. Nothing beats the thrill of taking on a rewarding climb on varied terrain with inclines, and with some rocks and roots in the pathway. Let’s keep moving –occasional stops only, please; Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Historic Northwest Walking Tour

Learn fascinating historical and architectural facts about many early buildings at Swarthmore College, as well as the oldest house in Swarthmore that is a National Historic Landmark. Explore the late 19th century area homes that were built by West Hill Land Development Company, including a house that has a former 1880s water tower. What could be better than sitting on the front porch of a building while enjoying the wonderful view and reading about its history and architects! Themes: History, Architecture; Amenities: Campus Views, Gardens, Benches, Emergency Phones; Surface: Paved, 1.4 miles long; Slope: Mostly Flat, Inclines, 56 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Uneven sidewalks; Emergencies: Use a campus emergency phone (E) or call Public Safety (610) 328-8333; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: OSM.

Historic Northeast Walking Tour

The homes in the northeast sector of Swarthmore reflect builders from several time periods: the West Hill Land Development Company in the 1880s on Elm and North Chester Roads, Riverview Estates in the 1920s on Ogden, Riverview, and Thayer, and William Witham in the Swarthmore Hills during the 1950s. As such, there are a diverse architectural styles ranging from Victorian to Colonial Revival Styles. Interesting historical facts are told along the way including the origins of an estate farm and naming of Guernsey Road. Themes: History, Architecture; Surface: Paved, 1.7 miles long; Slope: Inclines, Flat Sections, 98 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Uneven Sidewalks, Street Crossings; Emergencies: Call 911; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: Terrain.

Little Crum Creek Park Storybook Walk

Changing several times a year, Storybook Walk has 18 stops that illustrate a book chosen by the Swarthmore Public Library. An easy, fun walk for all ages with an opportunity for a picnic lunch near a creek! Themes: Nature, Kid Friendly; Amenities: Creek Views, Woods, Benches, Picnic Tables, Interpretive Panel; Surfaces: Paved, Grass, 0.3 miles long; Slope: Mostly flat, 13 ft elevation gain; Hazards: Wet Grass, Ponding, Mud, Roots; Emergencies: Call 911; Difficulty Rating: Easy Stroll - I walk infrequently, though I’d like to do more. I want to see new things, but not very far off the beaten (i.e. paved) path. A few rises here or there might be OK, but no steep paths or sidewalks, please. Recommended Map Layer: Terrain.

Leiper-Smedley Trail

This is a quick to-the-tracks-and-back trail that offers unique historical sites. Brave the noise from the highway to overlook the Italian Water Garden ruins and read the Viaduct interpretive panel while enjoying views to the Crum Creek valley below. Themes: Exercise, History; Amenities: Creek Views, Interpretive Panel; Surface: Paved, 0.7 miles long; Slope: Mostly Flat, Inclines, 43 ft elevation gain; Hazards: none; Emergencies: Call 911; Difficulty Rating: No Sweat - I exercise for fun, not to win contests. I like to explore at an easy pace, stopping to snap photos and smell the roses. Varied terrain doesn’t scare me, but let’s not do anything too extreme. Recommended Map Layer: Any is OK.

For Help

Send an email to SwarthmoreTrails@gmail.com to ask for help of any kind related to following Swarthmore Walks and Trails.

Swarthmore Walks and Trails is a project of the Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association in collaboration with the Swarthmore College Office of Sustainability. SSCA is partially funded through a grant from Swarthmore Borough.