ISSUE 91  |  Roadtrip

A View from the Treetops in Philadelphia

September 23, 2013 10:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

There is another world in the top of trees, a watery green place where light is filtered through leaves and branches fan out like mysterious roadways. Stand on the ground and crane your neck to imagine what’s happening in the sky. Or go up there and see for yourself:

At the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, a network of suspension bridges and catwalks and observation platforms built among the trees enable you to see for yourself what’s going on 50 feet above the ground. Last week we sent photographer Jeffrey Stockbridge to take a look for us:

Photographs by Jeffrey Stockbridge.

Above: The Tree Adventure entrance leads to a 450-foot-long canopy walk suspended more than 50 feet above ground level; from here you can see what the world looks like to a bird.

Above: You can lie on the net hammocks and look down at the ground far below.

Above: A telescope on an observation deck for a closer look. The Morris Arboretum is known for its collection of trees, which include a 74-foot-tall Chinese elm (a variety resistant to the Dutch elm disease that decimated the American elm in recent decades) and a gigantic, century-old weeping European beech trees whose branches form new roots where they touch the ground.

Above: From below, you can see the branches stretch outward to connect trees’ canopies.

Above: From the observation platform, you can view the arboretum’s 92 acres below.

Above: Many of the arboretum’s trees and plants date from the 1800s, when the property was the private estate of Lydia and John Thompson Morris, an enthusiastic plant collector.

Above:  Designed by Metcalfe Architecture and Design, the arboretum’s tree walk has a suspension bridge that leads to a giant bird’s nest (which you can go into).

Above: For treetop canopy walks in other cities, see A View From the Top.