Wissahickon and Cross County Trails Feasibility Studies

While at first glance, it may not seem like the two trail segments in these studies are directly related to each other—one is on the Wissahickon Trail and the other is on the Cross County Trailand even though they are located about 3 miles apart, they are indeed connected. Segment 1 focuses on providing a connection between the Morris Arboretum and the northern end of Forbidden Drive in an effort to complete this gap in the Wissahickon Trail. Segment 2 looks at how to provide a trail bridge across Germantown Pike in Plymouth Meeting to continue the Cross County Trail eastward across Montgomery County.

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Cross County and Wissahickon Trails Feasibility Map

In today’s context, each of these segments will fill crucial gaps in the planned 800-mile Circuit Trail network of multi-use trails stretching across the Greater Philadelphia region. Looking back in time, there are connections between these segments, which are both useful and fascinating. Both trails cross and follow streams—the Wissahickon and Plymouth Creeks. As the first inhabitants of the area, Native Americans would often follow streambeds as the easiest route across the landscape as well as to stick close to these vital life resources. Later on, early German settlers in the 1680s followed these same worn paths. One such path, which crossed over the land between these creeks, became what is known today as Germantown Pike. At first it was a worn and rutted dirt path, then later paved as a toll road in the early 1700s and eventually retrofitted to accommodate the trolleys and trains that no longer operate today. This road even once served as a part of the Great Wagon Road used by Colonial American travelers. These paths and roads have been traveled by Native Americans, Colonial settlers, Revolutionary War soldiers, African American slaves escaping to freedom, famous abolitionists, farmers delivering their goods to market, and a good many more over the centuries. Some of the most well-known travelers through this area include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, David Rittenhouse, Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the artist Thomas Hovenden, to name just a few.

By focusing on today’s needs and current conditions with the context of yesterday’s patterns, we aim to fill these critical trail gaps to strengthen Montgomery County’s trail network and its contribution to the Circuit Trails extending throughout the broader region. 

The Montgomery County Planning Commission worked in partnership with a consultant team, led by Gilmore & Associates, Inc. and joined by Campbell Thomas & Co., to carry out these two studies, which were funded by grants from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) through its Regional Trails Program.