It’s a popular spot to visit on a hot summer day, but Devil’s Pool in Wissahickon Valley Park is also a dangerous and illegal place to swim. That’s why Friends of the Wissahickon and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, which maintain the site where Cresheim Creek plunges in to the gorge, are partnering with the Philadelphia Police Department in warning people to avoid swimming and wading in the area.
Like other city waterways, Devil’s Pool is not a designated swimming area, so it is unsupervised, and that alone makes it a hazardous place to swim. But there are many other dangers for swimmers and divers there: strong currents and submerged objects, not to mention poor water quality that can cause infections and/or gastrointestinal distress.
Attracting visitors from miles around when the weather is hot, Devil’s Pool is the most heavily used area in Wissahickon Valley Park. That means more cars compete for parking, notably at the Livezey Lane trailhead. But parking is not allowed there, and with good reason: It’s the only direct way for emergency vehicles and personnel to get to the Devil’s Pool area. Police and park rangers are issuing tickets at the trailhead this summer.
Increased use also brings litter, a problem throughout the park but especially severe at Devil’s Pool. Case in point: Cleanup crews recently pulled 68 bags of trash from around Devil’s Pool on one day alone!
“We want visitors to enjoy many activities in the park, but our No. 1 mission is to make sure they do so safely and responsibly,” said Maura McCarthy, FOW’s executive director.
To promote safety and adherence to park and city regulations, Philadelphia police officers and park rangers, in partnership with FOW staff and volunteers, will have a greater presence in the Wissahickon this summer.
“We are the official stewards of Wissahickon Valley Park, but we need everyone’s help in keeping it beautiful, fun and safe. We greatly appreciate park visitors’ continued support during the summer season and all year long,” said McCarthy.