PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This fall is a golden opportunity to really get to know one of Philadelphia’s gems: Wissahickon Valley Park.
As a traffic reporter, Meisha Johnson occasionally mentions a slowdown near Forbidden Drive, but she had not gotten a chance to explore the beauty around it. So Peg Shaw of Friends of the Wissahickon gave an overview as they strolled on a sunny day.
“In the Wissahickon Valley Park, it’s 1800 acres,” Peg said. “Technically, it’s really a watershed park. The park is characterized by a creek that runs through a very rocky gorge.
“Every time I’m here, I feel like I’m on vacation,” said Laura Hoy, who was visiting the park with her 7-month-old, Connor.
Peg said, “The main trail in the park is called Forbidden Drive, and that was established around the turn of the century. No cars are allowed to go on, which is why it’s called Forbidden Drive.”
Rachel Fuld, who was enjoying lunch on a bench with her daughters, said the park is one of the best parts of Philadelphia. “People run and bike, sometimes we walk in the woods, and you can bring your dogs. It’s perfect.”
In the Houston Meadow area, which is filled with wildflowers and tall plants, Peg said, “What we’re standing on here is one small part of 50 miles of natural surface trails that are up the slopes from Forbidden Drive.”
Houston Meadow “is a historic restored meadow that the Parks Department initiated about six years ago.”
If you want to horse-watch, “there are three different public horse stables that are in the park that are historic,” Peg said. “There’s also the Covered Bridge, and the Valley Green Inn, which is an historic inn that’s kind of the heart of the park.” Valley Green is also a popular restaurant.
Peg said for anyone who wants to learn more, “We have a volunteer trail ambassador program. We have folks that are trained in the history and the lore of the park.”
“There’s always friendly faces,” Laura said. “It’s peaceful and relaxing.”
“People feel like they’ve been in many ways saved by this park,” Peg said. “They find so much joy and peace and rejuvenation.”
“So you could literally spend a whole day out here!” Meisha said.
“So many different options!” Peg said. “Really, there’s something for almost everybody in the park everything from children to elderly. You can just meander for days and days and days and really never get bored.”
To learn more about the park, go to the website for Friends of the Wissahickon.