Take a Wissahickon Staycation with us this Spring Break

History // April 06, 2023

Temperatures are rising, the sun is poking out from behind the clouds, and the earth is shedding its winter pelt to reveal beautiful flowers and fauna. No wonder we keep catching ourselves looking out the window instead of looking down at our work! For the lucky folks enjoying time away from school on spring break without plans to leave the Philadelphia area, consider taking a Staycation at the Wissahickon.

There’s so much to see in the 1,800 acres of beautiful Wissahickon Valley, but we’ve managed to create an itinerary of just a few of the most scenic spots off the beaten trail for you to enjoy.

9:00 AM- Beat the foot traffic and arrive early at the park’s southern end in Historic Rittenhouse Town. There is some parking around Rittenhouse town, along Lincoln Drive and near the Paper Trail Cafe, there is also easy access to the greater Wissahickon Park. For those of us using public transportation, the Tulpehocken train station is about a 15-minute walk from this access point. Along the Paper Mill Run, otherwise known as the Monoshone Creek, you’ll find cherry blossoms in full bloom. Nearby, along John M. Frogg Jr. Magnolia Grove, you’ll find the Magnolia Trees also showing their stunning flowers. 

9:45 AM- Once you’ve snapped your pictures, which we highly encourage as the blossoms only stick around for a few weeks, stroll over to Paper Trail Bike Cafe. Take in every last drop of the scenery with a cup of espresso at this quaint coffee shop. Before you begin your hike, make sure you have your springtime essentials: water to keep you hydrated out in the forest, sunscreen to protect you from the harmful rays, and long pants to defend you from pesky bugs and plants like poison ivy, even if it’s warm out! 

10:30 AM- Now that you’re caffeinated and ready to roll, pick up the Orange Trail north towards the Walnut Lane Bridge. Make sure to visit the historic Toleration Statue and debate with your hiking buddy whether the statue resembles William Penn’s likeness or is just a guy in Quaker garb. It’s always good to hike with a friend or family member in the case of an emergency or just to keep you company on the trail. 

11:00 AM- Back on the Orange Trail and over the Kitchen’s Lane Bridge on Forbidden Drive, keep your eye out for ephemeral flowers! These are a type of plant marked by brief life cycles and adapted to take advantage of the short, wet period in the Spring. 

11:30 AM- Take Forbidden Drive up to Lincoln Drive and explore this historically rich scrawl of land. The Battle of Germantown, commemorated by Washington’s Rock located on Lincoln Drive, is thought to have occurred here, somewhere near Hermit’s Lane Bridge. A bit further up the road, you’ll find the site of the last remaining call box used by Fairmont Park Guards in the early 20th century, fondly referred to as Ten-Box. If you find yourself getting turned around at any time on your hike, feel free to download our free app, which features a comprehensive map of the park. 

12:30 PM- We hope you take your time exploring these sites and remind yourself to slow down and enjoy being with nature. Once you’re ready to say goodbye to the park, this road will take you back to Historic Rittenhouse Town, where our Staycation began. Our journey doesn’t end here, though; before you leave check out America’s first paper mill and the preserved village built around it. 

Photo by Brad Maule