The Wissahickon Valley Park
Over 1.1 million annual visitors take advantage of the park’s abundant recreational opportunities. More than 50 miles of rugged trails offer hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians the opportunity to explore the park’s dense forests, open meadows, and shaded creeks. Wissahickon Creek is stocked with trout every spring, luring fishermen to its banks, while birdwatchers migrate to the restored Andorra and Houston meadows to witness the arrival of dozens of bird species. What do YOU want to do in the park?
Hiking | Running | Biking | Horseback Riding | Fishing | Birdwatching | Picnics
Let’s be friends! Become a member, support FOW’s conservation mission, or volunteer to help take care of the Wissahickon.
Hikers in the Wissahickon walk in a forest so engulfing, they will find it hard to believe they are still within Philadelphia’s city limits.
Forbidden Drive runs five miles along Wissahickon Creek. A wide, flat, gravel trail, it’s good for hikers of all ages and abilities. The park’s upper trails follow the rolling terrain, and can sometimes be steep and rocky. Check out our maps page to plan your route!
Nearly two dozen historical and geological sites can also be seen or accessed from Forbidden Drive and the upper trails.
While runners can be spotted on Wissahickon Valley Park’s upper trails, most prefer Forbidden Drive, the wide, flat gravel trail that parallels the creek for five miles. Trail runners seeking the challenge of steeper grades and rugged trail surfaces brave the upper trails. Runners should expect to share the trail with bicycles and horses on Forbidden Drive, as well as the Yellow, White, and Orange Trails.
Several local running clubs, including the Wissahickon Wanderers and the Shawmont Running Club, host running events in the Park.
Many bikers use Forbidden Drive, a flat gravel path with easy grades that is suitable for most types of bicycles. Additionally, the Wissahickon Bike Trail, Yellow Trail, White Trail, and almost all access trails from the outside of the park are open to cyclists. Expect to share trails with pedestrians and equestrians; please be respectful and yield accordingly.
Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) requires that bikers using the upper trails secure a trail permit. To obtain a permit or read the specific rules and regulations for biking, go here.
Whoa, Nellie! Did you know Forbidden Drive and most upper trails allow horseback riding? Check out our maps page to see trail designations for your ride – and remember that Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) requires equestrians using the upper trails to have a trail permit.
There are three public stables in the Wissahickon where horses can be boarded and lessons are offered:
- Courtesy Stable (Roxborough) offers lessons for all ages and levels.
- Monastery Stables (West Mount Airy) offers horsemanship programs for all ages and levels. Those who do not own a horse can ride by joining the Philadelphia Saddle Club, which boards its horses at this stable.
- Northwestern Equestrian Facility (Chestnut Hill) offers lessons for all ages and levels.
Stocked with trout each spring, the Wissahickon Creek is perfect for spin and fly fishing. The creek is an Approved Trout Water managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and is designated a Commonwealth Inland Water, offering an extended fishing season. The creek is also home to bass, sunfish and other warmwater species.
Anglers 16 and older must secure a fishing license, including a Trout Stamp. Visit the PA Fish and Boat Commission website for details on licensing, seasons, harvest regulations, stocking dates, and consumption guidelines.
Wissahickon Valley Park provides a refuge and breeding ground for many species of birds. How many? Glad you asked. The mixed habitat of waterway, woodland, and meadow, as well as the richly landscaped private properties which surround the park, attract over 200 different species of birds over the course of a year, and Pennsylvania Audubon has designated it an Important Bird Area.
If you are birdwatching in the Wissahickon, the E-bird app is a useful tool to track your sightings and share observations with the birding community!
We encourage everyone to enjoy a picnic in the Wissahickon! There are dozens of picnic areas and pavilions located throughout the park along Forbidden Drive and the Wissahickon Creek, and they are all on our maps page. If you would like to reserve a specific pavilion in the park, please contact the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Special Events office at (215) 685-0060 with any questions and to secure your date.
Any meeting or assembly with 50 people (or more) requires a permit from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR). Open fires are also not permitted in the Wissahickon, except in the designated fireplaces listed on the map.
And please remember to leave no trace whenever you visit Wissahickon Valley Park – carry out what you carry in!