Sunday, September 28, 2008
Fairmount Park in Philadelphia is one of the largest urban parks in the country. A creek called Wissahickon runs through it. The Wissahickon Valley is forested, with bike paths, walking paths, bridle paths and stables. It's beautiful in every season, and you would never, ever guess you were in a big city. When I walk on it, I imagine being in a land created by Tolkien... there is something very "Middle-Earthian" about it.
Forbidden Drive is a stretch of unpaved road (more like a wide path) that meanders alongside the Wissahickon Creek, among huge old trees, with nature all around. It bends around so that you're never sure what you will see along the next curve. We always walked the four-mile stretch beginning at Bells Mill Road. No weekend was complete without a walk on Forbidden Drive.
Along the way there is a covered bridge, an old stone bridge, and a little stone house that used to be a toll booth when horse-drawn carriages used the road. If you know where to look, about two miles into the walk, there is a large stone statue way up on a hill... an Indian chief, with full headdress, crouching to look over the land. I always had to find the Indian, every time we walked. It was easy to miss him, up in the trees, and you really have to remember where to look.
At the end of the four-mile stretch we walked, you come to the Valley Green Inn. It's a pretty, historic old inn that used to serve the carriage trade. There are benches where you can sit and have a drink and feed the ducks, and there is a restaurant and snack bar. It's a lovely place, and a wonderful incentive to walk the four miles to get there.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you why it's called "forbidden"... it's because cars are forbidden to drive on it!
(Also, I still haven't figured out how to mingle my photos into the appropriate places in the text.)
If you click on the photo with the bench, you will get an idea of what it's like to walk there!