Trailblazers is a word that could be used to describe Friends of the Wissahickon – but not just because the group built two new paths Saturday, June 1 as part of National Trails Day.
In fact, the nonprofit organization responsible for maintaining Wissahickon Valley Park has earned that title from its distinction as the only organization in Philadelphia exclusively dedicated to trail work. Operating predominantly within the bounds of the park, Friends of the Wissahickon carry out habitat restoration and trail building.
This year, as part of National Trails Day — the nationwide event meant to promote the wide variety of benefits that trails provide — Friends of the Wissahickon marked the kickoff of their new Kitchen’s Lane Staircase Project. Members helped clear sections of the trail that will eventually run between the two staircases.
“It’s mostly local people helping out,” said Henry Stroud, project manager for Friends of the Wissahickon. “What’s important about today is that people are giving back to the community. They are out here digging a trail that they are going to get to enjoy, that they are going to get to walk on.”
Stroud said that the staircases were being built by a professional stonemason group from upstate New York, using local rock quarried from Graver’s Lane in Chestnut Hill.
The organization was able to build the staircases thanks to a grant from REI. According to Stroud, Friends of Wissahickon have partnered with REI to receive funding for their projects for the last several years.