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Relics and Ruins: Weird West Park

Join us for a hike to learn about some of Fairmount Park’s historical hidden gems!


Saturday, March 2, 2024


4:00am - 7:00am


Belmont Plateau Parking Lot
1800 Belmont Mansion Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Join Fairmount Park Conservancy’s John Sigmund, Director of Partnerships and Sponsorships and park history enthusiast, on Saturday, March 2 from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM for a three-mile guided exploration of the relics and ruins of West Fairmount Park. If you’re fascinated by Philly history and appreciate hidden treasures of the park’s past, this hike is not to be missed!

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 sometimes 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.

On this hike, we’ll start at Belmont Plateau and touch upon a section of the Trolley Trail. Next, we’ll find the hidden remnants of the Philadelphia Columbia Railroad rail tracks. Finally, we’ll explore the ruins of the George’s Hill Reservoir, taking in one of the most secret and spectacular city views.

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

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.


**This event is part of our West Park Program Pack – a bundle of three distinct West Park programs offered for a discounted rate. It can be registered for individually (below) or as part of the Program Pack. If interested in registering as part of the pack, visit this website. Program Pack space is limited. Registration ends February 24 or when spots fill – whichever comes first.**


  • 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.

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.

QUESTIONS? Please reach out to programs@myphillypark.org

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

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 cancelled and attendees are eligible for a full refund.