One of our absolute favorite parks in the Philadelphia area is the Wissahickon Valley Park. My husband and I really enjoy a good hike, and with ample trails (the park is over 18,000 acres) you can really enjoy this natural landscape. In total this very large space also has 50 miles of trails, which is truly amazing.
I would also highly recommend visiting throughout the year as well, because of its beautiful nature setting, you can truly enjoy the four seasons that we get in Pennsylvania. It makes sense that this particular area was an inspiration for writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, John Greenleaf Whittier, George Lippard, and even William Cobbett. Many artists have enjoyed the landscape as well including James Peale, Thomas Moran, Currier and Ives, and William Trost Richards. Also, historically, mills were prevalent in the area which is now the park, and millworkers even made blankets here during the Civil War time. Quarries and various mills existed from the 1680’s until the 1880’s and it is easy to see how important the Wissahickon Creek was to the Philadelphia area.
When we walk around the park, we generally will take the Forbidden Drive Path. It was actually once known as the Wissahickon Turnpike, and is currently tagged with the name Forbidden Drive in conclusion to a protest against cars being allowed to drive in the park. There is even a parade yearly called the Wissahickon Day Parade to celebrate the anniversary of the protest.
I really enjoy the main path (Forbidden Drive) because it is wide and a more relaxing type stroll area. It also runs parallel to the Wissahickon Creek and you have an awesome view point of it the whole time you are hiking since it runs the entire length of this park. I found out when we were hiking the one day that it also won the 2018 Trail Of The Year! If you are feeling more adventurous and want to get into the woods more, there are different off shoot trails that will bring you into more rustic spots. These include the Orange Trail, Yellow Trail, White Trail, Lavender Trail, and the Andorra Meadow Loop. These trails vary in grades and terrain for the more experienced hiker.
It is so crucial that we keep taking care of this land for future generations to enjoy and learn about its history, so make sure that if you bring any containers or water bottles that you take them with you when you leave or discard of them in the appropriate bins if they are available. This is a topic that is really true to my heart personally, and it is so important that we respect all living things and nature. Wissahickon also has a very expansive volunteer program, and I will leave a link to their website to learn more about that too. They have everything from Volunteer Service Days, Individual Stewardship, Litter Clean-Ups, Trail Ambassadors, Crew Leaders, Corporate Work Groups, and even Habitat Monitoring!
If you are traveling to Philadelphia, or live in this area, the Wissahickon Valley Park is one of the most spectacular spots that you do not want to miss. I know personally, when we need a retreat to recharge and just be in a nature setting, this place is always our go to spot. Let me know in the comments if you have visited the park as well, and make sure that you click that subscribe button!
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-For Additional Reading
If you are traveling to the Pennsylvania region, and are interested in learning about its history, a really amazing resource is the book “Pennsylvania A History of the Commonwealth” by which is edited by Randall M. Miller and William Pencak. It is so informative, and reviews the history of our state, in addition to the geography, architecture, archaeology, art history, and even stories of folklore and folklife that are specific to this area.
I personally recommend this book if you are planning a trip to Pennsylvania, or even if you are just interested in learning about the state in general. If you would like to check it out, click on the link below!
If you would like to check out the full list of travel books that I recommend make sure that you check out this comprehensive guide!