Fall in Love with the Wissahickon this Autumn

News // September 06, 2023

Seasons are changing. With Labor Day festivities in the rearview and back-to-school campaigns in full swing, it’s only a matter of time before leaves shift to vibrant reds and yellows, trails will harden with the drop in temperature, and visitation will dwindle in the park until it’s t-shirt weather once more.

While your trips to the park might look a bit different as we transition into the colder months, there are plenty of ways to safely enjoy the Wissahickon this off-season.

Plan a Picnic

You dream of pumpkin-spice pallets and crisp apples all year long; imagine a seasonal pastry and warm cider out in the park on an autumn afternoon. Perfect for a leisurely Sunday after the soccer or football game is over, and the sun is threatening to set. Visit Pachella Field to set out your blanket or camp out under the pavilion for an Autumn picnic.

Check out the Fall Foliage

Those glorious weeks between when the leaves change colors and when they fall from their trees are brief, so make sure to mark your calendars at the end of October and check out this FOW article on the best places to admire the Wissahickon’s Fall foliage. Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (PA DCNR) publishes weekly fall foliage maps on their website beginning later this month as well, so you can keep tabs on the progress and plan your leafing accordingly.

Knock off Some Miles on your All Trails Journey

The All Trails Challenge is the perfect way to keep a commitment to regular exercise when it’s much easier to curl up on the couch with a warm drink and watch TV until the earth warms up once more. ATC runs for ten weeks and encourages challengers to hike all 50+ miles of trails (we did the math; that’s 5 miles every week for ten weeks). You’ll be able to explore every inch of the park during the downturn of Summer, the peak of Fall, and the great metamorphosis the park takes on as temperatures drop. Sign up here.

Take Advantage of the Fall Migration and Go Bird Watching

Bird migrations from Pennsylvania can start as early as mid-July and can go into the early weeks of December. There are endless opportunities to bird-watch this Fall. Check out this interactive map from the Audubon Society and explore the 264 known bird species that take a vacation from Philadelphia around this time of year.

Notably, Philadelphia has a large migration of Broad-winged Hawks that can be observed from August to December, according to Hawk Mountain Global Raptor Conservation. The greatest diversity of hawks can be seen in late October.

Introduction to Photography: Wildlife Edition

Nature photography is extremely dimensional when the earth is in transition. As you may remember from last year and all those before it, fall colors are fleeting… take a picture; it’ll last longer.

Want to learn to use the manual settings on your camera like a pro? Save the date for our photography workshop with the man behind #wildlifewednesday, birder, naturalist, and photographer extraordinaire Troy Bynum on October 7.

Take a Self-Guided Tour on the FOW App

Is spooky season your thing? Give yourself the creeps with our Spooky Wissahickon guided hike on our app. This 45-minute hike will inform you about the lives of the many people who were born, lived, and died (and maybe haunt) the land we now call the Wissahickon Valley Park. From Historic Rittenhouse Town and around all the spookiest points of interest in the park! Download the app for Android and iOS, in English or Spanish here.

Join us for a Volunteer Day this Fall

The leaves might change in the Fall, but our weekly stewardship opportunities stay the same (thankfully!) Join us for our regularly scheduled programming: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Every volunteer day is an important part of taking care of our park, but some pack a special seasonal punch. To kick off our Fall weekend service days, we’ll have our National Public Lands Service Day on Saturday, September 23. Next month, on Saturday, October 7, we’ll have a Tree and Shrub Planting Day, and on Saturday, October 28, we’ll be haunting at our Halloween at Harvey Street service event.

Plan Your Visit

Don’t get caught off guard. Be safe, and always plan your visit. We’ve got your back with plenty of resources on our website to ensure you have a great visit. First things first, make sure you have a map of the park. You can download our map app here, so you always have one in your back pocket.

Learn about Seasonal Changes at WEC

Stop by the Wissahickon Environmental Center for an educational journey through the Wissahickon. Find out what critters have booked it this Fall for warmer climates, what plants will hibernate, and which will poke their heads out.

Photo courtesy of Bernice Linck