Pennypack Park

 Pennypack Park is rich in natural beauty and is prominent in the history of Philadelphia.  Pennypack Park contains over 1,600 acres of woodlands, wetlands, fields and meadows.  It is the largest watershed park within the Fairmount Park system.  Much of the park today is a part of the original Wells Spring Estate of Thomas Holme, who surveyed and mapped the original land grant to William Penn.

Pictured above is Pennypack Park frontage on the Delaware River.

The original inhabitants of this area were the Lenni-Lenape Indians.  The Lenni-Lenape called the creek “Pennapecka”, which meant deep, slow moving water or the bear fat creek.  Native Americans commonly used bear fat for cooking, possibly indicating that the creek flowed slowly like liquid bear grease.  The Lenape used the creek for travel and remnants of their campsites can still be found along the banks. 

On June 7, 1684, Lenni-Lenape Chief Mettamicont sold both sides of the Pennypack Creek to William Penn.  It was in 1687 that Morris Gwynne built the first water grist mill in the northern section of Pennypack, which was used by local farmers.  Roads such as Pine Road (opened to the public in 1705), Shady Lane (opened to the public in 1716) and Verree Road helped the farmers gain access to the mill. In 1697, the second mill was built along the lower section of the creek by Charles Saunders and Peter Dale.  It was located midway between Frankford and Torresdale avenues on the north bank of the creek, until it burned on October 11, 1880.  The reconstructed mill race can still be seen above the falls, north of the historic Pennypack Bridge.   

To bird watch along the Pennypack Creek is to follow in the steps of the brilliant artist John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson, the father of American ornithology, who reportedly lived near Shady Lane for short periods of time.  In 1958, the area bordered by Pine Road, Verree Road, Bloomfield Avenue and the Pennypack Creek were set aside by the Fairmount Park Commission as a bird sanctuary.  Trained environmental educators offer various birding opportunities during the seasons, so please contact the Pennypack Environmental Center for current programs. 

Fairmount Park Commission set aside approximately 20 acres of ground in 1961, to be used as an equestrian center. This area is located off Krewstown Road, just north of “Ninety Foot" Bridge, adjacent to the municipal barn.  The Huntington Valley Riders and Drivers Club currently use this area for their events. 

Pennypack Park currently supports a diverse range of outdoor sports.  The macadam bike trail enables old pros and little ones alike to travel from Pine Road in the north to the mouth of the Pennypack Creek where it empties into the Delaware River.  Rollerbladers, baby carriages, joggers and leisurely walkers all share the trail.  For the more adventurous, there are other trails utilized by equestrians and mountain bikers.  The Pennypack also has many beautiful scenic areas for picnics as well as isolated areas ideal for the bird watching enthusiasts.

Roland Williams, member of the Friends of Pennypack Park, prepares fascines for an eroded trail.

Volunteers from Outward Bound work on a trail in Pennypack Park.

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To contact Jackie Olson, Volunteer Coordinator for Pennypack Park, please call:  215.685.0427.