I went on my first hike in Philadelphia yesterday, and what a perfect day for it: the morning was just a bit on the chilly side, but within an hour it is sunny with highs in the 60s.
Those that know me from Lausanne know that I have a passion for hiking. I only discovered this passion when I moved to Switzerland -- Houston, surprisingly, did not awake any yearnings to go hiking. As much as Philadelphia is better than Switzerland in terms of the food scene (especially the sandwiches), so is Switzerland that much better than Philadelphia and its environs for hiking. Nevertheless, I decided I would give it my best try, and purchased AMC's Best Day Hikes Near Philadelphia to guide my explorations of the hiking possibilities within driving distance of the city. My first hike was through Wissahickon Valley Park, a beautiful section of Fairmount Park near Chestnut Hill. I wish now I had gone earlier, as the fall foliage was still wonderful, but clearly a mere shadow of what must have been a striking display in October. So, without further ado, my first hiking report!
Wissahickon Valley Park
Location: Philadelphia, PA (Chestnut Hill)
Description: A hike along and through the forested Wissahickon Valley gorge.
Distance (approximate): 7 miles
Elevation Change (approximate): 250 feet
Duration: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Technical Difficulty: Easy to medium (a few steep sections, could be tricky in wet or icy conditions)
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Rating (out of 5): 3.5
I enjoyed this hike a lot, partly because of the weather, partly because it had been too long since I had gotten outdoors like this, and partly because Wissahickon Valley is a beautiful sanctuary of forests and water that sits within the city of Philadelphia. I saw many people with dogs, all off leashes, but the good news the dogs were very well behaved, and either having too much fun running about to bother with you, or were very friendly.
The first third of the hike heads south from the trail head (just off Germantown Avenue), and is probably the most beautiful and quiet portion of the hike. The last two thirds is more taxing, and passes near and even through settled areas, so the sounds of people, cars, and chainsaws interrupt the idyllic surroundings. I will definitely go back and check it out in other seasons. Go here to see more pictures from my hike.