Fairmount ParkPhiladelphia, PA, United States Fairmount ParkPhiladelphia, PA, United States

Relics & Ruins: A Hike through Park Past

By Fairmount Park Conservancy (other events)

4 Dates Through Mar 23, 2024

Join Fairmount Park Conservancy’s John Sigmund, Director of Partnerships and Sponsorships and park history enthusiast, for three-mile guided hikes to explore the relics and ruins of Fairmount Park.

As one of America’s oldest urban parks, Fairmount Park has accumulated many layers of history -- sometimes literally! A closer exploration of the landscape reveals the ruins of abandoned infrastructure and buildings that go back to the beginnings of the 178-year-old park system and occasionally, even further. Most of the year, nature cloaks these hidden treasures in dense growth, but the bare woods of the winter provide the perfect time to go off the beaten path.

If you’re fascinated by Philly history and discovering hidden treasures of park past, this hike is not to be missed!

Please note, these hikes will have some challenging sections that require agility. Since we will occasionally venture off trail, you are encouraged to wear sturdy hiking boots and rugged outerwear that can withstand scrapes from sharp sticks and branches (please, no fashion or formal wear! :)).

Estimated distance: about three miles
Level: moderate
Terrain: mainly hilly trails

–March 2: Weird West Park (meet at the Belmont Plateau parking lot):  We’ll start at Belmont Plateau and touch upon a section of the Trolley Trail. Next, we’ll find the hidden remnants of the rail tracks of the Philadelphia Columbia Railroad. Finally, we’ll explore the ruins of the George’s Hill Reservoir, taking in one of the most secret and spectacular city views.

–March 23: Eerie East Park (meet at Woodford Mansion): Haunting historic highlights include: an abandoned music pavilion designed by architect of the Gilded Age Horace Trumbauer, the smallest surviving structure designed by Frank Furness, two forgotten spring heads, a spooky springhouse popular in neighborhood lore, a WPA built bathroom, and the hidden ruins of a colonial-era mansion that burnt down 36 years ago.

INSTRUCTOR BIO: John Sigmund is a multidisciplinary artist, history lover, and urban park enthusiast with years of experience as a nonprofit manager and arts educator. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he spent a decade living in Austin, San Antonio, and New York City, but made a happy homecoming to go back to school at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. John has the proud distinction of actually living in Fairmount Park– he and his partner Jaime are resident caretakers at Lemon Hill Mansion. And although Lemon Hill is his home base, John is an enthusiastic advocate for all of the historic houses in the park system.


-The hike is roughly three miles over mainly hilly trails.
-Appropriate for adults and mature adolescents (minors must be ticketed and accompanied by a guardian).
-Please dress according to weather conditions and wear good hiking shoes (boots/sneakers).
-Bring water (drinking water is not available in the park) and a snack.
-Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms along the hike route so please plan accordingly.
-We will leave a few minutes after the scheduled start time. Please arrive at the departure location at least five minutes early. We cannot guarantee that latecomers can join after the group has departed.

PARKING/GETTING THERE: We’ll meet at the parking lot across from Belmont Mansion, overlooking the city skyline. There is plenty of free parking available in the lot. As always, NEVER leave valuables in your car! If traveling by public transit, the nearest stop is at Belmont Ave and Belmont Mansion/Fairmount Park Drive – a half-mile walk from the start. The closest Indego bike station is at Parkside and Belmont Ave – also a half-mile walk from the start.

INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY: This event will take place in light rain or snow. In the event of heavy rain, snow, or other severe conditions, the event will be canceled and attendees are eligible for a full refund.

QUESTIONS? Please reach out to [email protected]

Enjoy our programs? Become a Supporter of Fairmount Park Conservancy to help ensure that Philadelphia’s parks are enhanced for generations to come!