The Story Behind Lorimer Park: An Underrated Gem in Northeast Philly

A trail at Lorimer Park looks out onto pastures of Fox Chase Farm.
A trail at Lorimer Park looks out onto pastures of Fox Chase Farm. Dani Graham
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Nestled quietly in suburban Abington Township next to Northeast Philadelphia and Fox Chase Farm is Lorimer Park. This 230-acre, verdant swath of wooded land and countryside is a secluded and quiet retreat for urban dwellers and suburbanites alike.

Though Lorimer Park is sometimes overshadowed by its larger, southern neighbor, Pennypack Park, it offers a wealth of wooded trails, a bubbling creek, rolling hills, and picturesque views to discover. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, trail running, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, or horseback riding under a canopy of towering trees just a few minutes from northeast Philadelphia, all thanks to the park's benefactor, George Horace Lorimer.

An autumn trail in Lorimer Park.
An autumn trail in Lorimer Park. Dani Graham

George Horace Lorimer was a Kentucky-born publisher and journalist who was most well known for his role as editor-in-chief at the Saturday Evening Post . He is credited for saving the struggling magazine and for discovering artist Norman Rockwell, who painted more than 300 covers for the iconic magazine.

In addition, he was an avid writer and reader, and was said to have read 100,000 words a night by his fireplace. Lorimer was also a wealthy landowner, with properties scattered around the country, including his Kings Oak Farm, which is known today as Lorimer Park.

The Fence Line Trail runs along the border of Lorimer Park and Fox Chase Farm.
The Fence Line Trail runs along the border of Lorimer Park and Fox Chase Farm. Dani Graham

Lorimer loved exploring America in his car, long before most highways were built, discovering new parts of the country, and traveling to national parks. When he wasn't driving, he could be found walking and enjoying nature at places like his Kings Oak property in Pennsylvania.

When he died in 1936, he bequeathed Kings Oak to Montgomery County for others to use and enjoy in the future for personal reflection. The land is dedicated in memory of his mother and daughter.

Lorimer Park is popular for picnicking.
Lorimer Park is popular for picnicking. Dani Graham

But Lorimer wasn't the only owner of this pristine parcel of land. Prior to 1683, the land was occupied by the Lenni Lenape tribe. Locals say the Native American tribe would meet on top of Council Rock, an easily found landmark sitting 100 feet above Pennypack Creek. Council Rock was also George H. Lorimer's favorite spot on the property, thanks largely to its picturesque views and serene surroundings. Today, it is a popular location for wedding photos.

In 1683, William Penn purchased the land from the Lenni Lenape, and then in 1729 Penn sold it to Edmund McVeagh II. Lorimer purchased the land in 1915 and it became Lorimer Park after his death in 1936.

The humble promontory of Council Rock
The humble promontory of Council Rock Montgomery County Planning Commission

Today, the land is maintained by Montgomery County Parks and Recreation, and by volunteers who help manage the 8-miles of multi-use trails.

One of the most popular trails in the park is the Pennypack Trail, a rail trail which was formerly the SEPTA Newtown regional rail line. This 5.4 mile, flat, mixed-use trail runs along Pennypack Creek, stretching from Rockledge Borough north to Byberry Road in Bryn Athyn. The crushed stone surface is ideal for walking, running, and biking. The flat trail also intersects several hillier side trail connections into Lorimer Park if you want to climb.

All in all, any visit to Lorimer Park offers an intimate look into the Montgomery County Park's history and celebrated preservation of natural wilderness

 

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