Hike the Wissahickon Gorge: Valley Green and Two Meadows Loop

Rate this Adventure Wissahickon Creek Gorge: Orange Trailhead

This is a fairly easy hike within the city of Philadelphia exploring some of the quieter parts of the Wissahickon Gorge, its meadows, along with historic Valley Green. The 8.5 mile hike also goes past a covered bridge and small waterfall. 

The Wissahickon Gorge offers beautiful hiking without even having to leave the Philadelphia city limits. There are seemingly countless entry points into the gorge and hiking options are plentiful, with everything from a leisurely stroll down Forbidden Drive to an 18 mile boot buster available.

One of my favorite hikes to do is what I like to call the Two Meadows Loop, which accesses both Houston Meadow as well as Andorra Meadow. I find the meadows to be some of the least visited parts of the gorge and have hiked through each without seeing a single other person on the trail. The loop also allows for endless route options ranging from a mile to 10+ miles. Described here is an 8.5 mile version that includes historic Valley Green as well as the meadows. 

To get to the trailhead, park at either of the lots along Bells Mill Road, near the north end of the gorge (you can really start the loop from any number of locations, including Valley Green or any of the parking areas along Northwestern Avenue). I like to start at Bells Mill Road because there is a decent amount of parking and it allows for a number of route options from the start.

Start by taking the Orange Trail from the south side of Bells Mill Road. From here, follow the trail about 2.5 miles to Valley Green. You will pass the Thomas Mill Covered Bridge as well as the Rex Avenue Bridge as you go. The Teedyuscung Indian Statue is a short side trip off the trail if you want to check it out.

When you hit Valley Green Road, make a right and cross the Wissahickon Creek on the bridge. Take some time on the other side of the bridge to explore the area around the historic Valley Green Inn, which now serves as a restaurant. There are also restrooms if you need them.

Walk down Forbidden Drive for about 1/4 of a mile to the dam on the Wissahickon, where there is a small waterfall. This is a good lunch spot, with space along the rocks or at one of the picnic areas. Across from the dam, find the Yellow Trail that goes uphill. Take this trail for about a mile, passing Summit Avenue and Cathedral Avenue. Turn left at the sign for Houston Meadow.

The trail through Houston Meadow is very scenic and one of my favorites in the Wissahickon. Keep an eye out for birds here during the warm months.

From Houston Meadow, follow the trail to where it drops back to Forbidden Drive. Cross Bells Mill Road (you are basically at your car if you want to call it a day here). But you can also turn left and explore the trails near Andorra Meadow, which are also very scenic. From Andorra Meadow, take the trail past the Wissahickon Environmental Center and back to the creek. Walk down to Germantown Avenue and cross the bridge, leading you back to the Orange Trail. Take the trail back to your car, about 1/2 mile away.

Following this route will give you a roughly 8.5 mile loop. There are countless ways to lengthen or shorten the trip. You can turn around at either the Thomas Mill Covered Bridge or the Rex Avenue Bridge and walk back on Forbidden Drive for short loops of about 1 mile or 2 miles respectively. You can cut out the trip to Valley Green and just hike to Houston Meadow for a trip that comes in just over 3 miles. You can do the two meadows without Valley Green for a hike in the 5 mile range.

You can also add side trips. If you follow the Orange Trail for just 1/2 mile past Valley Green, you can explore the famed Devils Pool, a local swimming hole that features a nice cascade, deep pool, and beautiful stone archway.

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Lunch/Snacks
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RT Distance 8.5 Miles
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

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