Of the Philadelphia areas that William Penn encountered, the Wissahickon has changed the least. In the northwestern section of Fairmount Park, this gorge was carved out by the Wissahickon Creek—5½ mi of towering trees, cliffs, trails, and animals. You can easily visualize the Leni-Lenape who lived here and gave the creek its name. Many inns once stood along the banks of the Wissahickon; only two remain. One is now a police station; Forbidden Drive, a dirt-and-gravel pathway along the west side of the creek, is a haunt of joggers, bikers, horseback riders, anglers, and nature lovers. There are foot trails along both sides of the creek and interesting statues along the route. Walking less than ½ mi south of the Valley Green Inn brings you to Devil's Pool; Shakespeare Rock, with a quotation carved on its face; and Hermit's Cave, where German mystic Johannes Kelpius and his followers came in 1694 to await the millennium. To the north of the inn are Indian Rock and a covered bridge
that was built around 1855, the last still standing within the boundaries of a major American city.
You'll need a car to get here: to reach Valley Green Inn from downtown, take the Schuylkill Expressway west to the Lincoln Drive–Wissahickon Park exit (Exit 32). Follow Lincoln Drive to Allen's Lane, then turn right. At Germantown Avenue turn left, go about a mile, turn left at Springfield Avenue, and follow it to the end. A map of the Wissahickon showing all the trails and sites can be purchased for $6 at the Valley Green Inn's snack-booth window, open daily in warmer months from 9 to 5, weekends only the rest of the year.
Valley Green Inn. The other is the 1850 Valley Green Inn. You can sit on a bench alongside the creek, look at the stone bridge reflected in the water, and savor the tranquillity of this spot. Springfield Ave. and Wissahickon Creek, 19128. 215/247–1730. www.valleygreeninn.com.
Historic RittenhouseTown. A visit to Historic RittenhouseTown, America's first paper mill, requires a 3-mi hike south. 206 Lincoln Dr., 19144. 215/438–5711. www.rittenhousetown.org. $5 adults, $2.50 children. Open for tours June-Sept., Sat.&Sun. 12-4, or by appointment. Tulpehocken.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States