Getting back to nature in Pennypack Park

The Pennypack Environmental Center sits on the palisades of the Pennypack Creek just off Verree Road on the northern edge of Fox Chase. The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Guides offer a historical overview of the center and the gallery contains numerous examples of wildlife that populate this section of Pennypack Park. Adjacent to the center are the Verree House and servants quarters that are the only remnants of Verreeville, a small mill town that once dominated the area.

Although the Verree House is not open to the public at this time, the structure was recently renovated. The north side of the park is home to an art display throughout the woods designed by Ed Levine, “Embodying Thoreau: Dwelling, Sitting, Watching.” Your journey through the park can begin at the Bird Blind located to the rear of Verree House.

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On summer days you can view hawks, blue heron and many varieties of small birds that populate the park. Travel westward through the woodlands, also known as The Nature Sanctuary, toward Pine Road and you will find sculpted benches, a fine place to relax after hiking. relax after hiking.

The view of the valley through which the Pennypack Creek flows is dramatic as the landscape cascades down toward the creek. Return to the main trail and make your way to Ballard Brook and Ed Levine’s impression of Thoreau’s Hut.

Exit the woodlands onto Pine Road and head over to the south side of the park. You will find a large picnic area, ducks and geese —  and on certain days —  fishermen. This area of the park is dominated by an old pavilion that is no longer in use.

After relaxing, you can begin once again along the bike path or hike the horse trails. Scenic views of the Pennypack Creek abound along the trail. As you journey through the turns of the trail, you may see remnants of the old mills that once lined the creek, as well  as wildlife. When you hear a rush of water that means you have reached Verree Dam.

The original dam was used to power the main mills of Verreeville. It can be a full day in this section of Pennypack Park, located between Pine Road and Verree Road, but it is worth it. We are fortunate to have such a serene place to hike and study nature here in Northeast Philadelphia.

G.E. Reutter resides in the Fox Chase. You can visit him at his website.

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