Cresheim Trail: 2023 in review, 2024 in sight

John and Dan reach the summit — of the restored and cleaned stone staircase on the new Friends Loop trail

Friends of the Cresheim Trail is extremely grateful to everyone who helped us make 2023 an incredible year on the trail: volunteers, partners, donors, elected officials, friends, trail users. Thank you all. We got a lot done this year, and we have much to look forward to in the new year and beyond.

Some 2023 highlights…

  • Cresheim Trail public meeting at Lovett Memorial Library

    In January, with help from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, we opened a small but important ⅛-mile segment of trail, the first official section in the old rail corridor the future trail will traverse

  • In February, Friends of the Cresheim Trail was awarded a $100K grant from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission’s Regional Trails Program
  • In March, we held a public meeting in March at Lovett Memorial Library in Mt Airy, providing an update to Cresheim Trail planning
  • In April, with help from the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Friends of the Wissahickon, we created the Friends Loop, a ⅓-mile loop trail through an old quarry and parkland at the southern end of Chestnut Hill
  • In May and October, with support from the Philadelphia Streets Department and help from Mt Airy Trash Team and West Mt Airy Neighbors, we hosted cleanups of Cresheim Valley Drive (Germantown Ave to Stenton Ave in May; Germantown Ave to Cresheim Road in October)
  • In June, we installed five new oak benches at the Outdoor Classroom, a feature well used and loved by Henry Houston School students and teachers
  • Kevin and Marisa install the first of 15 new trail posts in 2023

    In July, we installed our first round of trail posts, 15 total, using standards set by Friends of the Wissahickon and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

  • In September, we hosted our first ever fundraiser, Among Friends, raising nearly $10K and enjoying the donated goods friend Chestnut Hill Brewing Company and Night Kitchen Bakery, plus cartwheels from our sitting State Representative!
  • In November, we planted 70 trees and shrubs donated by Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and our board member Dan Mercer; added to the live stake planting we did in March, this brings the total to over 100 new plants in the trail corridor
  • We also engaged PPR to help mitigate the invasive plants like Japanese knotweed in our focus area between Germantown Avenue and the SEPTA Chestnut Hill West Line rail bridge
  • In December, FOCT teamed with Friends of the Wissahickon crew leaders to carry out several skilled trail work tasks, including rock armoring and building retaining walls, rerouting a severely eroded trail entrance at Cresheim Road, and plank replacement on the boardwalk
  • In total, we hosted 14 volunteer workdays, with 232 volunteers and 725 volunteer hours
  • We participated in several public events throughout the year: Cheltenham Trails Fest, Springfield Community Day, Chestnut Hill Home & Garden, Go Mt Airy Supper Sessions


But perhaps the biggest news of the year, in spite of all our intentional efforts, came through serendipity. SEPTA, through its project to modernize its regional rail power sources, announced that they will restore the old rail bridge over Germantown Avenue to provide access for their construction vehicles to the substation they’ll be rebuilding. The estimated timeline is two years and the end result will be use of the bridge for the Cresheim Trail and occasional SEPTA maintenance.

SEPTA Communications Chief William Webster with a rendering of the renovated bridge over Germantown Avenue. Estimated completion: 2025.

In the meantime, FOCT is planning for the Germantown-to-Stenton corridor, as well as our typical monthly volunteer workdays. Stay tuned for the news, help us keep the momentum going, and if you can, please make a year-end, tax-deductible donation! You can do that HERE.

See you on the trail in 2024!

Friends of the Cresheim Trail would like to thank the following for their support of our efforts: 

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Fairmount Park Conservancy, Friends of the Wissahickon, Philadelphia Streets Department, State Rep Chris Rabb, State Senator Art Haywood, Independence Youth Cycling, Chestnut Hill Community Association, Mt Airy CDC, Chestnut Hill Business District, Chestnut Hill Conservancy, Mt Airy Trash Team, West Mt Airy Neighbors, East Mt Airy Neighbors, Wissahickon East Friends, Councilperson Cindy Bass, Councilperson Anthony Phillips, Mayor Cherelle Parker, Springfield Township Commissioners, Montgomery County Planning Commission