The Wissahickon Gorge

The Wissahickon Valley Park is truly a special place. Located in northwest Philadelphia, there are more than 50 miles of rugged trails to challenge hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.  Carved through the distinctive Wissahickon schist bedrock, the gorge features steep wooded hillsides where the region’s rich history is represented in the park’s many beautiful sculptures and historic structures, including Philadelphia’s only remaining covered bridge.

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History

The Wissahickon Valley once served as the hunting and fishing grounds of the Lenni Lenape. It later became the site of more than 25 mills that were built along its banks in the 1800s and numerous taverns and roadhouses were built along the Wissahickon Turnpike, now known as Forbidden Drive.

The Wissahickon Valley Park has been celebrated in poetry and in paintings. In 1868, Fairmount Park acquired the 1,800 acres of the Wissahickon Valley to preserve the purity of the city’s water supply. Mills and taverns were demolished, but the dams remained, telling the story of the industry that was once there.

Today, the Wissahickon Valley is one of the most wild places in the City of Philadelphia and is visited by over 1 million people each year.