Run in Support of the Wissahickon Valley Park

News // May 08, 2024

The Wissahickon Trail Classic is back on June 1 to celebrate National Trails Day! Friends of the Wissahickon was honored last year when the Wissahickon Wanderers asked us to partner for their 10k along the park’s extensive trail system, even more so when we were offered to be the beneficiary.

In 2023, nearly 500 runners came out to conquer this iconic race. Through registration fees and sponsorships, we raised nearly $30,000, which went right back into beautifying and conserving the park!

We’re grateful for the opportunity to continue to connect park lovers and thrill seekers with a unique way to experience the Wissahickon, trekking 10k through picturesque meadows, winding trails, and rugged urban forests. We also have a family-friendly 1-mile nature walk at the same time and place if you aren’t up for a race but still want to get in on the fun!

For more information and to register, click here.

If you need more convincing, join us on a tour of the race and the history behind some of the iconic Wissahickon touchstones you’ll pass on your Trail Classic journey.

Meet us at Forbidden Drive and Northwestern Avenue, right by Cedars House Café, to kick off the race. The Café, which was built between 1899 and 1902, was used as an office for the Andorra Nursery, one of the largest tree and shrub nurseries at the time. Now it’s a lovely place to grab a caffeinated drink and a sweet treat (you just might need it after the race.)

On your marks, get set, go, and you’ll be off along Forbidden Drive. The Drive is one of a few gravel trails in the Wissahickon and the main artery through the park. Did you know the trail was originally established as a commercial road so the local mills could easily transport materials along the Creek? Once opened to the public, FOW saved the Drive from becoming a busy highway, preserving the landscape and its distinction as an outdoor destination for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

We’ll take the Drive about a half mile down and trek up “Monster Trail” on Yellow, coined for its steep ascent. From here, Houston Meadow will be a cakewalk.

Houston Meadow is a protected natural area and is home to a diverse community of animals and plants, especially birds. You’ll pass a few wooden boxes that look like birdhouses, and in a way, they are! These are habitat monitoring boxes that are put in place to provide Eastern Bluebirds habitat and help us gather data on their population.

From here, we’ll come back down the hillside to Forbidden Drive and cross over the Wissahickon Creek via the Rex Avenue Bridge. This year, our Giving Tuesday campaign, in part, raised funds to restore the iconic archway along the bridge. This April, specialized masons gave it some much-needed TLC and restored it to its original glory.

Pass the Orange Trail, take the White Trail, and give the Looking West Statue a wave! Hop off onto the Lavender Trail. This trail is one of the lesser-known trails but one of the most whimsical. With the Lavender’s cascading streams and lush forested hillsides, you may just want to stop and take in the sights, except you’re in a race! So keep moving along the Lavender Trail all the way to the Thomas Mill Covered Bridge.

The Red Covered Bridge was built in 1855; this is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the Park, especially for its firetruck red color. It’s also the last remaining covered bridge in a major US city. This beloved park structure was restored in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and again in 1999 with funds from the Fairmount Park Commission (now Philadelphia Parks & Recreation).

Now, we’re in the home stretch through the forests surrounding the Andorra Natural Area. You’ve ventured across the park; as you descend towards the Drive and round the corner towards the finish line, we’ll be cheering for you! You did it; you crushed the Trail Classic.

If you want to be a part of the Wissahickon Trail Classic a race in which every runner’s stride helps pave the way for FOW’s next century of stewardship, sign up here.