Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice. Fairmount Park is one of the biggest urban park systems in the world, and Forbidden Drive runs through its heart. This wide gravel roadway gracefully accommodates runners, cyclists, hikers and horseback riders. Vehicular traffic was banned from this park road in the 1920s, and so it took its name.
The trail runs about 10 miles, following the curves of the Wissahickon Creek from its southern end in Manayunk (via a paved bike path that starts on Ridge Avenue, near the end of Kelly Drive) to its northern end in Chestnut Hill.
The path passes a covered bridge and rolls past Valley Green Inn, a historic restaurant dating back to the mid 1800s. It is still in operation and offers a place to hitch your horse. (There is also car access, with a couple of paved lots.) It is a cozy refuge on a chilly day.
Rugged trails crisscross Forbidden Drive, so you can take a rocky detour through the woods. Just beware. The park system is vast! I am always sure to retrace my steps or hike with a map to avoid getting lost. There are over 50 miles of hiking trails twisting through this woodland.
Continue on to the northernmost end of the trail, where you will find the Cedars House, a welcoming coffee shop that offers smoothies for the athletic types and good cookies for those who amble. There is ample parking nearby, and you will find lots near the intersection of Bells Mill Road as well.