A visit to the Wissahickon wouldn’t be complete without a walk at Crossways Preserve in Whitpain Township. Crossways is a 57-acre haven for many species of plants and wildlife and has the most native plant species of all of our preserves.
Begin your journey along the 1.5 mile trail by walking through tall grass meadows. On your right, you will see the chimney swift tower. You will also see native grasses and wildflowers. These meadows also provide food for pollinators, including butterflies, bees, and dragonflies. You may see the juniper hairstreak butterfly, a species of “Greatest Conservation Need” in Pennsylvania.
The landscape quickly turns into woods, where you’ll find towering hardwood trees. Along the trail wildlife is always moving, creating a feast for the senses. You may see deer or hear frogs, and Crossways is a local favorite for birding. During the spring and fall, thousands of migratory birds pass through, stopping over to rest and refuel along their long journey.
Wissahickon Trails uses Crossways every summer for our bird banding station, a program established in 2015. Bird banding allows us to understand how bird populations change over time. The data we collect is part of a project across North America, Canada, and South America, but also supports our decisions in how we manage land.
As you walk, you will see Wissahickon Trails’ bird nesting boxes. Many species of birds, including tree swallows and eastern bluebirds, use these boxes to nest each year. Wissahickon Trails’ staff and volunteers monitor these boxes and band the baby birds. This allows us to collect data on their populations over time. To learn more about volunteering with this program, click here.
Make sure to look for the exclosure, a fenced-in natural area where deer cannot eat the vegetation. Wissahickon Trails created this area in 2015 to restore native species and protect a vulnerable wetland important for declining butterfly species. The increased variety of plants that will grow here will help attract native insects, birds, and other wildlife to Crossways Preserve.
Small parking lot about mid-way on Cathcart Road, Blue Bell, PA.
SEPTA Bus Route 94
A 1.5 mile walking and riding trail begins from a parking space off Cathcart Road. In some places, the equestrian and pedestrian trails diverge.
Before You GoGeneral Trail Rules & Information
Crossways was originally a privately held farm by the Harris family. In 1997, Wissahickon Trails worked with Saly Glassman, who owns the neighboring Kindle Hill Farm, to acquire the land and turn it into a preserve.
As you depart Crossways, you can easily connect with the Montgomery County Trail or the Green Ribbon Trail to continue your walk.