Things to See and Do
Follow the Trails
Visitors to the Preserve will find about 4½ miles of trails to explore through a wide variety of ecological habitats. There are trails that wind through the forest, some that follow along a stream, our pond and wetlands, and several others that weave through the meadow near the Preseve’s entrance. Make sure you pick up our Visitor Guide and Trail Map at the Visitor’s Center when you arrive.
Depending on your group and your level of ability, there are trails that offer the exact hiking and nature experience you are looking for. Most are gently meandering, ideal for leisurely strolls. Others are more rugged, allowing for a moderately strenuous workout.
As you start out from the Visitor’s Center, take a look around—you’ll see that the topography of the Preserve is indeed unique. There is a deep valley with Pidcock Creek running through it below, and the steep, forested inclines of the Heritage Forest on the other side. Head for the Stone Bridge if you want to tackle the more rugged trails on the far side of the creek—although there are quite a few gentle trails across the creek as well.
Penn’s Woods is a short distance across the road from the Visitor’s Center. It has wide, flat trails suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
Thanks to a generous grant from Foundations Community Partnership, the Preserve features a Universal Access Trail. This widened and hard-packed trail is wheelchair accessible and connects the Visitor Center to the Pond through Penn's Woods, providing equal opportunity for education and exploration to all visitors.
Perhaps the weather will dictate where you will want to hike, choosing between sunny warm areas or cooler forested trails. Did you know that on a hot summer day the temperature in the forest can be nearly 15 degrees cooler than in open settings? This is due not only to the lack of direct sunlight reaching the forest floor, but also to the evaporational cooling effect of moisture retained in the leaf litter and soil.
If it is lightly raining, where should you go to stay as dry as possible? Observe carefully the parts of the forest that stay drier than other areas. Deciduous trees funnel water from leaves to twigs to limbs to trunk, and down to the forest floor. However, a fair amount of water still drips from the ends of their leaves, gently falling directly in the root zone of the tree where you may be standing. Conifers, especially spruce, act more like umbrellas, shedding rain off the ends of their branches. Therefore, head for the nearest spruce tree if you find yourself in a downpour.
Finally, as you enter each new section of the Preserve, take a moment to listen carefully to the sounds of nature around you. Maybe the loud drumming of a woodpecker, or the trilling of frogs or toads, or the sound of water rushing over the rocks, will attract your attention and you’ll choose to head in that direction. Letting your ears dictate your wanderings can often result in a spectacular nature moment.