Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fairmount Park, PA - Wissahickon Valley South


Wissahickon Valley Park - Friends of the Wissahickon
Valley Green Inn

GPS Coordinates 40.056599, -75.214606

View Larger Map

Large Parking Lot on Valley Green Road

Map of the Wissahickon Valley - Friends of Wissahickon (purchase)

HIKE DISTANCE:  9.8 miles

I hiked the northern section of this park on 10/26/12 just before Hurricane Sandy hit.  At this time, all the trails I hiked had been cleared of storm debris and were completely passable.
The trail starts out along Valley Green Road from the parking lot.
Keep straight along Valley Green Road when a trail leaves to the right.  This boardwalk leads to Valley Green Roadl; cross over ...
... walk beyond the barrier then take the right fork just beyond the stone wall.  White/green goes left, to the right should be orange but there are no blazes.  It doesn't much matter since multiple trails run parallel along Wissahickon Creek at different levels.  The white trail is an easier trail, the orange trail is more rugged.  Plus there are additional trails that are not on the map but they all basically take you to the same place.
Historic Valley Green Inn (still in operation as a restaurant) across the Wissahickon Creek
An old bridge to the left of the trail over Cresheim Creek with Devil's Pool underneath.
Close-up of Devil's Pool
Historic Livezey House - parts date back to 1683.
Dam in the Wissahickon near the Livezey House.
Old mill ruins - these can only be seen from an unmarked trail that runs below the orange trail; the orange trail runs on top of the ruins.
The trail goes through some interesting rock formations.  It's hard to believe this entire park, which can be quite rugged, lies within the Philadephia city limits.
Wissahickon Creek to the south.
Found some breakfast!
Wissahickon Creek to the north.
Lots of steps leading up to...
Fingerspan was install in 1987 using a helicopter. 
Not very canine compatible - she didn't like the grate AT ALL but there was no other way.
Another old stone bridge over the Wissahickon - these bridges allow for shorter loop hikes connecting over to trails on the other side.
The Forbidden Drive on the other side of the Wissahickon.
Baptismal Pool ~ 1723
Toleration Statue on Mom Rinker's Rock
The trail goes under the Walnut Lane Bridge.
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Rittenhouse Town, site of the first paper mill in North America
Although there are no signs or blazes (and it took me a couple of miles of trying this way and that way to figure it out) you cross the bridge towards the Rittenhouse Homestead with the yellow shutters and continue on a footpath up to Lincoln Drive...
... turn left on Lincoln Drive and proceed to the traffic lights, cross over at the crosswalk...
... then immediately turn right and cross over Rittenhouse Street (no crosswalk) to rejoin the trail which heads back along Lincoln Drive on the opposite side of Rittenhouse Town.  Again, no signs, blazes, nothing and the trail is very hard to find if you don't know where to look for it.  Now you know :)
Finally some blazes!  (The green blaze along with the trail blaze denotes that mountain biking is allowed.) Although this is a rugged footpath, it does run a level or so up from Lincoln Drive so there is traffic noise for a while.
Just after going under the railroad tracks (on top of this bridge) the trail ends at a very busy road.  Turn right on the sidewalk and cross the bridge over the Wissahickon, then immediately after crossing the creek ...
... turn right on the paved Lincoln Drive Trail that goes back under the railroad tracks.  This is also the yellow trail although you probably won't find any blazes.
Although I prefer not to walk on pavement, there are some pretty areas worth seeing and it's for less than a mile.
Just before the bridge up ahead come up on an intersection where the paved trail continues right towards a footbridge crossing the Wissahickon.  At this intersection, take the paved trail to the left, uphill, doubling back the way you just came.  The trail will turn to dirt and switchback the other way.  This is the continuation of the yellow trail but there aren't any blazes or signs at the intersection. 
Once you start seeing blazes, the trail is well-blazed going forward.  The traffic noise disappears, also.
The yellow trail.
Although I would have preferred to have taken the yellow trail all the way back, because of the added 3.5 miles in searching for trail continuations and not wanting to get stuck in rush hour traffic going home, I took one of the side trails down to The Forbidden Drive since it is faster going and a more direct route.
Fingerspan from The Forbidden Drive.
Livezey Homestead and Mill from the other side of the creek.
The Forbidden Drive
Coming up on Valley Green Inn.

[0.00]    Take trail along Valley Green Road at kiosk
[0.15]    Stay left along Valley Green Road when a trail leaves to the right over a bridge
[0.20]    Cross Valley Green Road, keep right after barrier at end of stone wall when white/green goes left (should be orange but no blazes)
[0.55]    Rock hop over Cresheim Creek with Devil's Pool to the left under bridge
[0.75]    Trail comes out on paved area at Livezey House/Glen Fern; continue on unmarked trail to the right (trail to the left of that is the orange trail but you can't see the mill ruins from the orange trail since it runs on top of them)
[0.90]    After old mill ruins on left, trail fizzles out, work your way up to the left to continue on orange trail
[1.05]    Cross metal grate bridge, ascend steps, continue through Fingerspan
[1.35]    Keep straight old stone bridge on right over Wissahickon Creek
[2.10]    Trail joins in from the left, continue on orange
[2.20]    With bridge on right, turn left on gravel road briefly then leave gravel road to the right just after railing on footpath
[2.25]    Keep right at top of hill when trail comes in from the left
[2.40]    Look up to the left at Mom Rinker's Rock with Tolerance Statue on top
[2.45]    Keep right on orange when white/green comes in from left
[2.75]    Keep straight when trail crosses over drainage area on left at double orange blazes
[3.15]    Turn left at T-intersection
[3.20]    At intersection where multiple trails converge, turn right towards parking lot; at end of parking lot keep left into historic Rittenhouse Town when right goes to Lincoln Drive
[3.30]    Turn right and cross wooden footbridge at Rittenhouse Homestead with yellow shutters, continue on footpath past house to Lincoln Drive, turn left and walk along Lincoln Drive
[3.40]    Cross Lincoln Drive to the right on crosswalk at traffic light, immediately cross Rittenhouse Street to the right and pick up orange trail (no blazes or signs) following back along Lincoln Drive with Rittenhouse Town on the right
[3.55]    Can see parking lot P-12 down to the right on the other side of Lincoln Drive
[3.90]    Orange trail goes under Henry Avenue bridge
[4.55]    Cross over paved Gypsy Lane
[4.80]    Trail switchbacks down to Lincoln Avenue and follows Lincoln Avenue to the left of guardrail
[4.95]    Trail goes under railroad bridge then ends at busy road, turn right on sidewalk and proceed under Lincoln Drive to dam and waterfalls on right
[5.05]    Turn right on paved Lincoln Drive Trail bikepath immediately after crossing over Wissahickon Creek at dam
[5.15]    100 Steps on left; continue straight on bikepath
[5.25]    First yellow trail blaze
[5.95]    Just before footbridge goes right over the Wissahickon and Henry Street Bridge is up ahead, turn left and double back uphill on paved path which will turn to gravel
[6.15]    Keep right when trail comes in from left
[6.20]    When gravel road veers left towards large old house, turn right on footpath following yellow blazes
[6.45]    Lover's Leap at rock outcrop over gorge; keep left at fork
[6.80]    At T-intersection turn left to stay on yellow (right goes down to Forbidden Drive)
[7.10]    Trail goes under Walnut Lane bridge
[7.45]    Keep straight on yellow at intersection (right goes to Forbidden Drive)
[7.85]    Turn right at intersection
[7.95]    When yellow leaves to the left, continue straight a few steps then turn left on the Forbidden Drive
[8.00]    Four mile marker
[8.45]    Keep straight on Forbidden Drive when bridge crosses creek to the right
[8.75]    Fingerspan visible on other side of creek
[9.00]    Three mile marker
[9.20]    Devil's Pool on other side of creek
[9.50]    Valley Green Inn - continue to stone bridge, turn right and cross bridge then turn left on wooden bridge on trail to parking lot
[9.65]    Keep right when trail goes left over bridge
[9.80]    Back at parking lot


  1. I love hiking in Wissahickon. Its my daily hiking area. I also love your blog. My husband and I use it often to find new places to hike.

  2. Hi there! I would love to use a few of your excellent photos in my church's newsletter (It is for SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT, spiritual path, so I am always looking for photos of literal paths but I also was specifically looking for a photo of TOLERATION, which you have. Would you kindly let me know if I can use these? Would be happy to give attribution credit to your blog. (And are you nameless?) Thanks a bunch! (And I too hike the nearby with MY dog!but who is not a German Shepherd.) You can email me at --- I am the assistant administrator at the Unitarian Society of Germantown.----Carolyn Scott