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summer’s last gasp, and an urban swimming hole

September 15th, 2008 by citiesinpixiedust · View Comments

Somehow it got to be September, and the warm Indian summer is a great time to visit Philadelphia’s own premier swimming hole, Devil’s Pool. (Or as some call it, Devil’s Hole)

devil's pool

While its legality is “questionable,” almost anyone who’s grown up within the city limits has taken a dip in these refreshing waters at least once or twice. My aunt used to take me, my brother, and cousin there when we were kids and let us run wild. It was a place where, before frivolous lawsuits over too-hot coffee and people slipping on icy pavements, kids could be kids and people could relax and let their hair down, and if you got yourself hurt, it was your own damn fault for being stupid. These days it’s still in high use and demand as a place to cool off on hot days. On my walk there in August, I saw two guys hiking a slippery, rocky trail carrying a full-sized barbeque, followed by a girl with a huge bag of charcoal. The last guy in the train carried two coolers: one was probably full of meats. Talk about dedication.

The map below shows a loop walk I took with a friend recently, starting at the stone bridge on the Forbidden Drive side of the Wissahickon Creek, crossing the bridge over to the low creekside trail, walking past the Fingerspan, the Falls at Livezey Lane, Devil’s Pool, Valley Green, and around back to the bridge. This trail is pretty rugged, with some potentially slippery spots. Along the blue route are different landmarks, mapped out for your point of reference and access point… the actual location of the swimming hole is approximated – guessed by the bridge which runs over the Cresheim Creek. The actual map coordinates may be a bit different. You need to be on the Mount Airy/Germantown/Chestnut Hill side of the Wissahickon to access Devil’s Pool. Easy access locations are Valley Green (approximately 15 minute walk), Livezey Lane (approx. 15 minute walk), or paths down alongside the Cresheim Creek in Chestnut Hill.

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Devil’s Pool is formed where the Creshiem Creek runs down and spills into the Wissahickon, a pool of water about 4-5 feet deep on most good days collects. Some folks take their chances and jump off rocks into the pool, but it’s really a stupid place to try to do any fancy diving or high trick jumps - the water never gets more than 5 feet deep anymore, not even after storms.


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Tags: parks · philadelphia · summer · wissahickon

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