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Rules and regulations

Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system belongs to all of us. We want to keep it clean, safe, and enjoyable for all. These rules and regulations help us meet this goal. This is a summary of a larger list. View the full list of regulations for parks and recreation areas.

Prohibited in all parks

  • Littering and dumping.
  • Driving on the grass or other non-vehicle areas.
  • Wrecking, removing, or defacing Philadelphia Parks & Recreation property.
  • Swimming, wading, or ice skating in or on our waterways.
  • Removing any plants, animals, or rocks.
  • Vending, selling, or soliciting anything without written permission.
  • Lighting a fire, except in a stone fireplace or a metal barbecue stand.
  • Using metal detector devices.
  • Amplified noise without a special permit.
  • Smoking or vaping.
  • Alcoholic beverages, except for permitted events.
  • Illegal substances.
  • Motorized vehicles including ATVs and dirt bikes.
  • Camping.
  • Feeding or disturbing birds or wildlife.
  • Off-leash pets.



All dogs and pets must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.

For more information, view the dog regulations and best practices.


Parks & Rec strives to ensure that Philadelphia’s parkland is safe and welcoming to all people. Feeding and/or sheltering free-roaming cats causes litter and attracts other animals, endangering human park users and native wildlife. Thus, in accordance with Philadelphia Code Regulations Governing Park System 101-1 and to promote health and safety for all users, cat shelters and feeding stations will be removed from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation property.

Residents can’t place or build cat shelters on Philadelphia parkland because:

  • These colonies can encourage others to litter, short-dump, and abandon more pets. These areas discourage park use and visitation.
  • Free-roaming cats exchange disease with wildlife, which endangers wildlife, cats, and humans. Feeding stations become sites for interspecies contact where cats and wildlife can exchange diseases, including mange and rabies.
  • Feeding stations cause fox, raccoons, and skunks to become habituated, endangering both people and wildlife.
  • Philadelphia’s park system is a refuge for native wildlife and some of the only parcels of habitat within city limits. Free-roaming cats, even those fed regularly, hunt and kill small mammals, reptiles, and birds, negatively impacting the biodiversity.

If you can no longer house your cat, visit the Pennsylvania SPCA or ACCT Philly to learn how to surrender your pet.


Bicycles cannot be used in the Andorra Natural Area, except on Bell’s Mill Trail, the driveway to the Tree House, and the bypass, which connects upper Northwestern Avenue with Forbidden Drive. Cyclists are welcome to leave their bikes at the Tree House while on the trails.

In those park areas where bicycles are permitted, bicycles are limited to existing sidewalks, footwalks, and designated trails. No bikes allowed on grass areas within the park. Cyclists should move over for those walking, except when riding as part of an official race.


Tents, shelters, or camping is not allowed in any area.


There is a 10 p.m. curfew throughout the parks and recreation system.


Fishing is allowed under the rules as outlined by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Horse-drawn vehicles

Horse-drawn vehicles may be driven on park trails wide enough to safely allow them. Travel by horse-drawn vehicles should be single-file on all park trails including Upper Wissahickon trails and Forbidden Drive.


Hunting, trapping, chasing or capturing any kind of wildlife, or disturbing any nest(s) or egg(s) is prohibited.

Meetings, assemblies, picnics

Any meeting or assembly with 50 people or more requires a permit.

Parks & Rec visitors wishing to secure a date and location for picnics, family reunions, or other events on Parks & Rec property must get a permit from the Special Events Office. Fees apply.


Amplified sound is prohibited.

Outdoor sports permits

Those wishing to reserve a Parks & Rec field need to have a permit.

Skiing, skateboarding, skating, rollerblading

These activities are prohibited on roads and other paved areas in the park system unless the site is designated for recreational purposes.


Smoking is not allowed on any Parks & Rec property including buildings, playgrounds, ice or skating rinks, fields or courts, pools, picnic areas, walking areas, and parking lots.



Swimming is only allowed in authorized pools and when a lifeguard is present. Swimming in creeks, rivers, and streams is prohibited.

Trail use

All trails are open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week. No person may ride a bicycle or horse in the park between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

All trail users shall observe a 7 miles per hour speed limit on all park trails.

Bicycling is allowed on all roads within the park system, except as posted on Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Drive (West River Drive).

You may need to apply for a trail permit to use the upper trails in Wissahickon Valley Park and the soft trails in Pennypack Park.

Learn more about trail regulations.