A Walk Along the Wissahickon

Trails to Try

A series of articles dedicated to hiking trails in the Philadelphia area

The Green Ribbon Trail

The Wissahickon Creek is part of the history of the Philadelphia area. The word Wissahickon comes from the Lenape word for “catfish creek” or “yellow water. “ Covering 23 miles, the creek generally is a mellow stream traveling through parks and woodland, but over the final seven miles, the creek drops over 100 feet in altitude, creating a gorge. While the most well-known and popular trail along the creek is Forbidden Drive, further north in the suburbs, another hiking trail runs through Montgomery County.

The Green Ribbon Trail is a 12.6 mile trail that follows the path of the Wissahickon Creek from Upper Gwynedd to Whitemarsh. Managed by the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, the trail runs along the creek, through woodlands and meadows and involves bridge and stone crossings. Here, the Rotary Bridge provides access to the trail from Butler Pike in Ambler and stepping stones provide a way to cross the Wissahickon Creek; a ladder provides access to the bank on the far side.

In the northern section, native grasses and wildflowers can be seen below the PECO power line right-of-way. A wide variety of wildlife, including insects, birds, mammals and aquatic life can be seen along the length of the trail.

The south section follows the creek through Ambler and Fort Washington. The trail comes to an end at Stenton Ave in Whitemarsh.

While hiking the full trail would likely require a ride (or transportation at each end), there are several loops found along the way, some of which make it possible to visit a number of parks and protected natural areas such as Parkside Place, Penllyn Woods, Gwynedd Wildlife Preserve, Four Mills Nature Reserve and Fort Washington State Park. There are a number of interesting sights alongside the trail.