Natural Lands: Stroud Preserve
Explore rolling meadows of wildflowers, dense pockets of forest, and sustainably managed farmland within Natural Lands’ Stroud Preserve.
Living in the suburbs outside Philadelphia, I am continually on the look out for quality outdoor spaces to explore that don’t require a long drive from home. While searching for somewhere nearby suitable for trail running, my wife recently discovered Stroud Preserve.
Part of a larger network of sites maintained by the organization Natural Lands, the preserve incorporates farmland, grasslands, and forests, with certain areas actively being restored to a more natural state. Natural Lands is a non profit that works to protect lands in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Over a dozen sites are scattered throughout the area, offering opportunities for hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, snowshoeing in the winter, and wildlife viewing.
From the parking lot, cross the bridge over the East Branch Brandywine Creek (with kayak and canoe access) and follow the gravel road into the preserve. There are four main routes of varying length, with smaller trails interconnecting them throughout the preserve. Natural Lands has an excellent companion app for iOS and Android that includes trail maps for each of their sites.
Places like Stroud Preserve are perfect for quick outings into nature. Most of the trails follow the edge of forest, riding the line between pasture and dense woods. Some sections through the woods can be found along the green and red trails. The red trail also traverses some stunning meadows of wildflowers and passes by a small wetland habitat situated at the heart of the preserve. I highly recommend exploring the side trails, marked with gray arrows, that span between the trails and offer additional views of the preserve and allow for some longer meandering loops to be formed.
While Stroud Preserve might not be the place for an epic adventure, it is these local pockets of nature that we tend to return to time and time again for everyday trips into the outdoors. With 18 total sites to explore, I know I’ll be seeking out more of what Natural Lands has worked to protect in my area.
Distance: 9 miles of trails. Blazed routes vary from 0.8 to 4.1 miles in length.
Trailhead: Parking and trailhead at 454 North Creek Road, West Chester, PA.
Route: Several blazed routes, many of which interconnect.
Where to Poop: No restrooms, and avoid doing your business within the preserve.