Wissahickon Valley Park Summer Guide

News // May 19, 2021

Wissahickon Valley Park has always been one of Philadelphia’s best-loved parks – and last year, it saw record usage as more people than ever before made connections with their parks and green spaces in the pandemic. This year, we’re encouraging park visitors to explore the whole of the Wissahickon’s seven miles of creek, 1800 acres of forested gorge, and 50-plus miles of trails – and we’ve put together a brief guide on what to do for the most enjoyable experience in the Wissahickon.

Read on for tips about how to have a wonderful time in Wissahickon Valley Park!

Make a plan

Park maps are on the kiosks at the start of each trailhead, and you can also take one with you by downloading the FOW Map App!

Free and for everyone, Wissahickon Valley Park receives over a million visitors each year and the months of May through September are its busiest season. Expect to share the park with others and for parking at popular trailheads like Valley Green and Bells Mill Road to be completely filled up on weekends. Alternate parking locations for Valley Green and Ten Box are listed on FOW’s maps page, as well as how to get to them easily by public transportation.

The good side? Consider this your chance to take in some of the less travelled (and equally beautiful) trails in the Wissahickon. Trails like the Yellow Trail on the west side of the park wind through the picturesque Houston Meadow, while an extensive network of trails traces the Cresheim Creek as it flows into the Wissahickon.

Lastly, remember that restrooms are few and far between in the park and plan accordingly (though Philadelphia Parks and Recreation will be bringing in temporary facilities at major trailheads for part of the summer.) You can check the status of park restrooms and other amenities on this regularly updated map.  

Need a map for your hike? Get a digital map of the Wissahickon and more by downloading the FOW Map App at fow.org/mapapp.

On your visit

Stay cool on trail with plenty of water.

You’re at the park, but do you have everything you need to get on trail? Here’s what we recommend during the summer season:

  • Bring plenty of water to drink and cool off with, as well as sunscreen to avoid a sunburn. 
  • Both ticks and poison ivy are very present during the summer, so wearing long pants is a good idea. Make sure to do a tick check after any hikes. 
  • We all have to share the trail! Be kind and courteous to others in the park, including following trail guidelines on your hike, bike, or ride.
  • Four-legged friends are welcome in Wissahickon Valley Park, but please keep your dog on leash at all times (and pick up after them). If you’re looking for nearby dog parks to let them off leash, here’s a great list.

During hot Philadelphia summers, the Wissahickon Creek might look tempting – but with hidden currents and submerged sharp objects, plus variable water quality, the creek is not a safe place to go swimming. A better option is Philadelphia’s extensive network of public pools, which will soon be opening for the summer – sign up for Parks and Recreation’s updates on pool season here.

We all are responsible for making sure that we leave Wissahickon Valley Park better than we found it. We ask that you follow Leave No Trace principles to make sure that the park continues to be a pleasant place for recreation and a sustainable habitat for migratory birds and local wildlife.

  • If you brought it in, bring it out. Please avoid littering or dumping in the park. You can even pay it forward by picking up trash on your visit!
  • Minimize your impact on the park by staying on established trails, and only building fires in designated barbecues or fire pits. See picnic areas on the following map.
  • Protect wildlife by leashing any pets and giving habitat boxes space. 

Have more questions? You can find additional information on our Plan Your Visit Page!

In case of emergency…

These signs at major trailheads have the emergency numbers on them.

While Wissahickon Valley Park is almost always a refuge of peace and solace from the city, occasionally things happen – and if they do, you need to know who to call. If you spend a lot of time in the park, we recommend saving the following numbers on your phone.

  • To report park damages, downed trees and littering: Text WISS to FOW at (267) 966-2207.
  • To report non-emergency situations, including swimming and noise complaints: Call the Park Rangers at (215) 685-2172 OR call 311 to report to the city.
  • To report a wildlife incident: Call the PA Game Commission at (610) 926-3136.
  • If you need help right away because of a medical emergency or an immediate danger: Call 911 and describe your emergency. Use the closest cross-street to describe your location.

Emergency numbers are posted at major trailheads in the park. There are also help locator numbers on Forbidden Drive and trail signage markers, so you can accurately report your location in areas of poor service.

Let’s be friends.

FOW’s Seasonal Field Crew will be assisting with cleanups and trail construction this summer. If you see them, say hi!

Do you love the Wissahickon? We do too! Friends of the Wissahickon’s staff and volunteers work to clean up trash, clear fallen trees and improve park trails, restore habitat, and educate the public. We always have something more to do for the Wissahickon, and we hope you’ll be our friend.