PHILADELPHIA— Philadelphia Parks & Recreation will dispatch social distance ambassadors to Wissahickon Valley Park this weekend to welcome visitors and educate them on safe and responsible park usage.  The ambassadors will maintain a presence at popular entrances to the park and trailheads. Wissahickon Valley Park and all of Philadelphia’s watershed parks have seen a sharp increase in visitation since March.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Park Rangers are on duty at the Wissahickon and other watershed parks to remind residents that swimming in Philadelphia’s rivers, streams, and waterways is prohibited and extremely dangerous—even for the most experienced swimmers. Furthermore, jumping into these bodies of water from any height can cause serious injury or death. Also, gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited in all of Philadelphia’s parks.

“As always, but especially this year, Philadelphia parks and trails have been a vital lifeline for thousands of residents, offering a safe, healthy way to get outdoors and recreate during the pandemic,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “As the summer progresses, we are seeing the results of this increased usage: trash and debris, swimming in prohibited areas, and residents parking illegally and blocking park access to emergency vehicles. Our ambassadors and rangers will be out this weekend to educate and remind residents of safe and responsible park usage.”

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Park Rangers will continue to support park safety by patrolling high-use entrances around the Valley Green and Devil’s Pool areas and engaging residents through education and awareness-building about park rules such as: no littering, no swimming, keeping dogs on leash, no illegal parking, and the need to wear a mask and maintain six feet of distance from other park visitors. Rangers will continue to issue citations for illegal parking and alert the Philadelphia Police Department of any safety issues within the park. Additional signage reminding users of park rules and safe usage will also be added this weekend.

Additionally,  Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Rangers and other staff will monitor parks throughout the Philadelphia Parks system to ensure that residents are adhering to social distancing guidelines, masking up, and using our parks and trails safely.

Trash build-up impacts the health of our urban forests and waterways, and creates an inhospitable environment for visitors. Philadelphia Parks & Recreation staff are working hard to manage the increased trash in City parks, and ask residents to carry out their trash, as well as support park beautification through limited, small-group clean-ups and solo efforts. Residents can get involved in a solo clean up campaign and learn more about ways to help preserve and maintain the Wissahickon Valley Park.

Parks & Recreation and Park Friends Groups ask visitors to:

  • Carry out what they carry in.
  • Not swim or bathe in any park waterways.
  • Not jump or dive into any park waterways.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance from other visitors.
  • Park in designated parking areas only.
  • Keep dogs on a leash at all times.
  • Use the bathroom before your visit, and refrain from leaving human waste in or around the park.
  • Follow all posted park rules and regulations.

“The Wissahickon Valley Park is everyone’s park to enjoy. But with unprecedented numbers of visitors and limited staff capacity this summer, the best thing you can do to make your trip fun and stress-free is to plan ahead,” said Ruffian Tittmann, Friends of the Wissahickon’s executive director. “That includes knowing different parking alternatives and trying lesser-used areas of the park when your favorite spot is too crowded to maintain social distancing.”

See FOW’s other recommendations for planning your Wissahickon Valley Park visit here.

Note to editors: Please consider using these photos of Devil’s Pool, provided courtesy of Friends of the Wissahickon. To promote the health and safety of residents, we ask that imagery reflects safe and permitted park usage.