Trailhead of the Month: Mt. Airy Avenue
Did you know there are 25 major trailheads in Wissahickon Valley Park? This weekend, think about visiting a new section of the park. Here’s one access point you may want to try!
With plenty of street parking, as well as its close proximity to the Allens Lane train station on the Chestnut Hill West line and the 53 bus stop at West Sedgwick Street and Wayne Avenue, this trailhead can be easily accessed by everyone. If you head downhill on Mt. Airy Avenue, a little more than a quarter of a mile off Wissahickon Avenue in West Mt. Airy, the road dead ends at Wissahickon Valley Park. By making the first left before the new signage kiosk, you can hike a connector trail that connects with the White Trail. After half a mile or so you can visit the historic Monastery Mansion and Stable. Please be respectful of the horseback riders in this area.
Continuing downhill from the Mt. Airy Avenue trailhead, there is much more to see! On the right, follow the White Trail north and you will notice a small pond where you can observe some interesting frog behavior. Continue along the new gravel path installed by FOW and you will see some beautiful umbrella magnolias. Stop and spend some time at an interesting rocky outcrop here.
Farther downhill from the entrance to the White Trail, you can make a right and take the Orange Trail north. In approximately a quarter of a mile you will reach the Fingerspan Bridge, a sculpture by internationally renowned artist Jody Pinto that functions as a pedestrian bridge. The bridge is a 59-foot enclosed, self-weathering, steel tunnel that is shaped like a finger, complete with a knuckle and fingernail. Reaching across the gorge to the other side, the sculpture is a metaphor for the inextricable link that exists between man and nature. Because of its literal fingerprint on the landscape, the bridge also speaks to the ways that humans impact and mold the natural world, by hand and by machinery.
Looking for a more scenic route? Make a left on the Orange Trail and head south. Here you will encounter some beautiful geology and enjoy a peaceful hike along the banks of the Wissahickon Creek. Less than a mile along the trail, you can visit the grand Toleration Statue, or you can loop back on the newly restored White Trail by making a left onto the Kitchen’s Lane access trail and taking the trail off the northern end of the parking lot.
Forbidden Drive is also easily accessed from this entrance by crossing the creek at the Mt. Airy Avenue Bridge. Head north on this popular trail and after a mile or so you can visit the historic Valley Green Inn. Have a relaxing meal on the porch or sit on a creek-side bench and let the resident geese, wood ducks, and mallards entertain you.
This is only a fraction of what you can see when you visit the Wissahickon from this trailhead. Buy your your Wissahickon Valley Park map today (free with a new FOW membership) and explore all the secret corners of the park!
Written by Sarah Marley, FOW Outreach Manager