Saturday, July 05, 2008

Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon valley


Well, weeks ago, I set out on a ride along the Fairmount park bike trail along the Schuylkill river, and then on a whim upon seeing the beautiful natural Wissahickon valley, went in and, well, rode through the whole valley trail.

I first set out along the Parkway, heading towards the Philadelphia art museum

Art museum
So here's the magnificent art museum, which is right next to the river and the bike route along side it.

The sidewalk in front of the museum

boat row
And Now I am on the riverside bike trail. Facing the river, next to the museum, is the boat row, where there's a row of boat houses, among them are the Penn and Drexel University canoe racing clubs. This part of the park is the place where a lot of people come to get their morning workouts.

Farther along the river, there is much less joggers, and the road quality is very nice. The view along the river is also great. You can see the Zoo balloon in the distance on the other side of the river.

My bike at the Schuylkill river trail
Of course I'd have to take a picture of my bike next to a bike trail sign!


The Dam at the entrance of the Wissahickon valley
And after a little trip to Target for some free AC and drinks, I'm here at the dam where the river trail and the valley trail cross.

Riding into the valley bike trail
I saw a lot of people riding in and out of here on bikes, so in I went.

Great road quality
With smooth asphalt, natural view and no cars or other disruptions, I think this is the best bike route I've ever seen! Man, this road quality is even way better then the streets in downtown Philly!

Entering the valley trail
After this sign, I guess I am really going into the valley. From this point on, it's a historic trail that's kept as close to it's natural condition as possible, and the trail turns in to gravel. So it's kind of like the easiest form of offroad, just a little bumpy, no danger, no special excitement. Doesn't seem to be too nice for road bikes, though :) There is a sign that said speed limit 15mph. Oh well, I can easily paddle up to 18, and well, with a little effort, you can easily go up to 25mph. Oh screw it XD

Offroad trail leading off to the side
Along the route there are numerous tiny trails that lead sideways out of the valley back to developed areas. This one in the picture looks especially wild, so much that there's a sign in front that said on foot or on horse only, no bikes.

little shack by the road
There are also lots of little shacks along side the road for resting.

Valley Green
And now I am in Valley Green, the place in the middle of the trail where there is a restaurant, snack store, and...

The river in the valley
...a spot close to the river shore (there is a river flowing through the valley).

Swans? or ducks?

The place sure is crowded with water fowl.


little food store
The little window where you can buy snacks and drinks to replenish after the ride.

A close look at the nice restaurant, if you ever come biking with a girl, this is the place to have lunch. Unless you don't have enough green in your pocket, that is.

The trail runs along side this Wissahickon river in the valley. Historically it was a trail with rows of water mills, so there's a lot of dams along the river.

Abandoned house
This house looks very nice, wonder why it's abandoned.

Forbidden drive
This sign explains the name "Forbidden drive". It's a historic trail in a natural park, which, along the years there was many requests to allow cars to drive through, but people wanted to keep it natural, so, cars are still forbidden till this day, conserving the beautiful park and thus the name of the trail.

End of the trail
Finally I've reached the end of the trail, connecting to an asphalt road leading back to civilization.

The "Tree House"
A side trail at the end leads to this house named the "Tree House", which seems to be a natural conservation center. Too bad it's closed on weekends.

Birds that can "walk" all over the tree
In the back of the tree house, there's a tree with lots of strange birds "walking" on it. These bird are really amazing that they could walk around the tree twigs, even upside down, like a lizard.

Chestnut hill college looks like a castle
A little off the trail, and I'm close to German town now. I found this beautiful castle-like structure, which, turns out to be a college. There sure are a lot of old styled buildings in Pennsylvania.

This is just a sidewalk, but it's so nice.

Then I back tracked through the biking trail. It was slightly down hill going back, and, as I am not taking that much pictures this time, it was much faster going back.

Leaving the trail
A late evening photo upon leaving the valley.

Although it was hours on gravel, it really felt very nice to have an afternoon's ride through a valley shaded in lush, naturally growing trees. It was mostly flat, too, not much climbing, and the trail is very wide with close to no curves. Not as challenging nor exciting as in the mountains in Taiwan, but I like it very much to have a taste of nature this close to urban city life, something I never expected to find in the old, long developed city of Philly.

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