Locality Continued-Spaghetti Realized.

Mar 05 2019

There’s an old path that borders Lincoln Drive on the east side of the valley. According to local folklore it predates the colonies and was used by the Leni Lenape tribe as a way to enter the forest from the Schuykill River and then by the original Monks of the Wissahickon. During the early stages of the Battle of Germantown British and Colonial troops traded musket fire across the slopes on either side of the creek. At one point there was a quarry next to the main path, something you realized quickly after the initial climb, a 20-30 foot drop immediately to your right. Wissahickon Schist was sourced from there and used in many homes and buildings of the era.

Two hundred years after the battle and a half a century after the quarry closed the area was introduced to me as the Spaghetti Trails, a non-sanctioned portion of Fairmount park used by local MTB riders. The trails were maintained only by riders. Fence gates and other artifacts remained standing, relics of the quarry. If a tree fell, it stayed until someone came in with a chainsaw. While not a secret it was rarely used except by the locals. Dan and Nate spent time working on some select sections. You could spend hours back there and not see a living soul. More than once a deer stood in the path in front of me. If you were there in the fall when the darkness comes to fast you’d find yourself in an eery, lightless, ancient forest.

I wrecked brake pads and vintage sidis back there. My first MTB rides were there, rigid and steel. On occassion I’d pull off Wiss ride and finish off in the Spaghetti Trails before returning home.

Now after years of clandestine bike use the trails are being streamlined. A skills course is being added to the quarry. The mushy lower path is being re-routed.

A new era has arrived.

It’s hard not to be sad about change. It’s a magical area that pre-dates the bicycle and what we know as time. While I look forward to the future of the area I will miss the solitude of the path’s early incarnation for MTB use.
I will miss the feeling of being totally alone yet surrounded by old ghosts in some forgotten pocket of this city. I will miss looking down into the quarry while negotiating the root filled rocky edge.

I will still attempt to get real gnar.

FOW Press Release:



Friends of the Wissahickon, in partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, is planning trail and habitat improvements in the park located across from Saylors Grove along West Rittenhouse Street.

Historically, this area was a quarry providing stone for many homes in the city. Decades ago, it became a dumping area for construction material. Now there area has become re-vegetated with canopy trees and an understory of invasive shrubs.

Trail improvement plans include a short one-way loop trail with mountain bike features, along with tread stabilization and stormwater control elements for existing trails. Habitat improvements will include trash removal, phased invasive plant removal, soil improvements and revegetation with native species.

FOW staff will assist an enthusiastic group of volunteers to do the work using hand tools. We anticipate work to begin by early 2019 and proceed into the spring.

We look forward to working with community volunteers to improve this area of the park and hope you can join us. If you’d like to volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Shawn Green, at green@fow.org. Should you have any questions about this project, please contact Director of Land Management, Peg Shaw at shaw@fow.org.