Chestnut Hill: Nature in Unexpected Places

The restaurant at the gorge where many visitors end up.
The bridge at Wissahickon Valley is well known as the picturesque entrance to the park.
The bridge at Wissahickon Valley is well known as the picturesque entrance to the park.

A cool breeze caresses you as you walk through a tree-lined path. The sounds of birds, cicadas and the flow of water are the only sounds able to be heard. No one would ever imagine being enveloped by nature and only be 30 minutes outside of Center City Philadelphia. A hidden gem like the Wissahickon Valley makes it a reality.

“Kind of an odd place to be [within] a big city like this,” said Samuel James, of Roxborough, who came to feed the ducks and take in the peace and quiet. “It’s a getaway from the hustle and bustle of everything. It’s beautiful down here.”

This is exactly what attracts many people to this tucked away park in the city. Philadelphia is full of history, art, culture and so much more, but nature isn’t generally associated with the city.

The restaurant at the gorge where many visitors end up.
The restaurant at the gorge where many visitors end up.

An absence of man-made structures, traffic and the noise created from make the valley a breath of fresh air.

Northeast Philadelphia resident Ocie Cusaac, 28, comes to the park to clear his head.

“I came out to see nature, to look at the insects and to just enjoy the scenery,” said Cusaac.

He has been coming to Wissahickon Park since he was a child with his mother. He recalled jumping in the water with a friend years ago while his mother watched.

For others the park means acquainting their children with nature.

A nearby child exclaimed to her mother, “What is that?” as a butterfly floated to the ground.

Jessica Diaz, of Northeast Philadelphia, told her daughter it is a butterfly. Diaz had brought her two children and herself to the park for the first time.  Diaz found herself as amazed as her children that a place like this existed within the city.