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Places We Love: Wissahickon Valley Park

Solo Blog’s “Blocks We Love” lets us highlight some of the best small communities in Philadelphia. But some places are simply too big for the series! With that in mind, Solo’s videographer Cory Popp and his wife Lauren have produced a celebration of one of the “Places We Love”: Wissahickon Valley Park.

As you’ll see in the following video, the park especially amazing in the fall, when colors change and the trees offer spectacular displays of gold, orange, red and yellow leaves.

Places We Love: Wissahickon Valley Park

At 1,800 acres, Wissahickon Park is one of Philadelphia’s largest and best loved natural spaces, known for its challenging walking and biking trails, wide and slow-moving creek and immense size. Before the Wissahickon became part of Northwest Philadelphia’s extensive green space system or an engine for the area’s early economy, Lenni Lenape Indian tribe, which is why you can find a 15-foot statue commemorating one such Indian on the east side of the park. Centuries later, the park still houses many of the natural resources and elusive but intriguing wildlife that most likely attracted visitors long ago. Today, Philadelphians can be found using the park for everything from mountain biking to Ultimate Frisbee, to dog walking and family picnics.

The truth is, the park may be (as the website boasts) a “magnet for all types of outdoor enthusiasts,” but the attraction I have to the Wissahickon is its mix of serenity and accessibility. Biking down Kelly Drive, passing Boathouse Row, and riding alongside the Schuylkill River is my favorite route, but the possibilities are endless. Using City Hall as a starting point, the southernmost end of the park is 6.5 miles away, just a 16-minute scenic drive on Kelly Drive. The park is also accessible by multiple buses. Or, if you’re really adventurous, you and your companion for the day could rent a tandem bike or a modern surrey to peddle your way there.

An autumn view of Wissahickon Creek.

No matter how you arrive at the park, there’s no contest–it is the quietest place in all of Philadelphia. It may be the perfect place for outdoor activities, but it is also ideal for journaling, taking photos, resting, or just thinking. Once you’ve walked deep into the woods on your favorite trail, having convinced yourself no one else knows about it, or you‘ve biked as far as you can go on Forbidden Drive, take a seat and rest amongst the trees or beside the babbling creek and I guarantee you will never want to leave. The sounds of Wissahickon Valley Park are tranquil enough to drown out the noise of city life, leaving you with just enough room to process the beauty all around.

Video by Cory Popp. Text by Lauren Popp.