Hidden Philly: Cliff Jumpers at Devil's Pool

After hiking about half a mile through the humid woods of Northwest Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley toward one of the city's best-kept secrets, you'll hear the first big splash just before you pass the first mounted warning sign.

Devil's Pool is a beloved -- and perhaps notorious -- gathering place for young families and daredevils looking to escape the heat and bustle of the city.

It is hard to comprehend this hidden abode exists in the middle of one of the biggest cities in America. The creek waters burble below several tall, rocky cliffs and into a smallish pond, about 15 feet at its deepest point, beneath a soaring stone aqueduct deep in the Wissahickon forest.

On a typical day at Devil's Pool, the sounds of English, Spanish and Portuguese intermingle among a diverse crowd of teenagers and families who gather here, coming from as near as the inner city and as far as the Jersey suburbs. The crowd here forms a microcosm of the diverse population of the Greater Philadelphia area.

Devil's Pool has also earned a dangerous reputation over the decades, mostly thanks to the teenage daredevils who leap from the sheer cliffs into the relatively small pool of deep water below. There are countless videos on social media showing ill-advised -- and illegal -- jumps from the towering aqueduct 50 feet up, which requires precise aim to avoid the rocks and hit the spot of deep water.

Obviously, anyone foolhardy enough to attempt such a dangerous stunt is at risk for serious injury, and the city has recently floated the idea of filling the pool with rocks to dissuade stunts, to the displeasure of many who consider Devil's Pool dares a treasured part of their adolescence.

The vast majority of visitors at Devil's Pool, though, are just looking to relax and cool off. For now, this hidden refuge in the woods continues to be a unique place where people from every culture and background interact with nature and each other.

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