Devil's Pool, Popular Philadelphia Swimming Hole Known for Rock Diving, Getting Shut Down

The location, accessible only by somewhat arduous trails through the woods of Wissahickon Valley Park, is a couple hundred yards from the Wissahickon Creek.

What to Know

  • Devil's Pool has been closed several times in recent years.
  • Dirty water has been cited by city health and park officials for closures.
  • Dangers posed by jumping from the stone bridge overhead and the rocky bluffs on each side have also been reasons for previous closures.

One of the worst-kept secrets of Philadelphia's park system, a watering hole known as Devil's Pool that has long served as a summer cool down for city kids, is getting shut down.

In what has become a seemingly annual tango between city parks officials and local residents who venture along a park trail to the Wissahickon Creek hole, Devil's Pool will once again be shuttered starting Saturday, Aug. 18.

Officials have previously closed down access to the pool for unsanitary water conditions, overcrowding and safety to swimmers. A father and son died at Devil's Pool in 2013 as their family stood nearby.

The two trails through Wissahickon Valley Park in the northwest section of the city that lead to the secluded spot, known by its characteristic rocky cliffs and a stone bridge from which young people jump into the cool water, will be blocked off by city police and park rangers, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.

The city department said in a press release that it is "implementing this temporary closure to ensure public safety."

In an interview, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said the pool has exploded in popularity this summer, with as many as 1,200 people visiting it in a single day.

"Devil's Pool has never been safe," Ott Lovell said. "This is our last resort."

She said the danger to the public is elevated by its remote location.

"It's not guarded, so there's no one there to help if something happens, God forbid," Ott Lovell said. "And it has limited cell (phone) access, so if something does happen, it would be difficult to get in touch with emergency workers." 

The trails will remain closed every Saturday and Sunday through Sept. 30.

"The Orange Trail and White Trail entrances to the Devil’s Pool site will be closed at both Livezey Lane and at Valley Green Road to ensure that no pedestrian, equestrian, or bicycle access is available to this area," the press release said. "All other trails, parking lots, recreational areas, and amenities throughout the Wissahickon Valley will remain open on these days."

Ott Lovell stressed that parks officials do not want to discourage the public from using the 1,800 acres of the Wissahickon.

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