Armentrout Preserve & Camp Woods are my favorite preserves to explore. These preserves are connected to each other and include an interesting variety of scenery – open meadows of tall waving grasses transition to hills of dense shrubs and grasses with hiding birds and deer, which melts into a forest of enchanting beech tree giants. These preserves that often seem empty of human visitors include a number of hilly loops and are a great spot to spend an hour or two on a sunny day.
Hikers looking for a change of scenery and solitude
Best time to go:
Mornings in September to November
1. Stop in Ambler for coffee
2. Getting there for first time visitors
There are a few entrances to Armentrout Preserve and Camp Woods, but my preferred parking spot is at the end of Beale Road. The preserve entrance is inconspicuous and you won’t know you’re there until you reach the gravel driveway. If you think “am I in the right place?” as you weave through a quiet residential cul de sac, you’re probably almost there!
3. Stop by the picnic tables to enjoy your coffee
Wander through the nearby Memorial Grove.
4. Explore the trails!
Take your time looking for birds on the Milkweed loop at Armentrout and appreciate the fields of goldenrod in autumn before crossing a private driveway to the Mayapple loop in Camp Woods. Check out the deer exclosure that protects sensitive plants from deer browsing!
5. Visit the meadows
On your way back to the car, after retracing your steps through Armentrout Preserve, extend the hike through the beautiful meadow loops on the Whitpain Township public property.
This is one of my favorite hikes to do with friends on a Saturday and perfect for anyone who wants to begin the weekend by spending a few hours outside. Starting and ending in Ambler on a Saturday during farmer’s market season means you’ll have the chance to hit up the market after your hike (at about 8 miles, you’ll have earned yourself some coffee and baked goods). It’s a moderate hike beside the Wissahickon Creek that will take you through the riparian forests, meadows, early-successional woodlands, and wetlands of the Green Ribbon Trail and Crossways Preserve.
Hikers of all ages looking to do a little more mileage to earn pastries
Best time to go:
Saturday morning, May-October
1. Make your way to Ambler borough
Take the Lansdale-Doylestown line to Ambler train station, head west on Butler pike and pick up the Green Ribbon Trail on the right (heading north).
2. Connect with the Crossways Trail
Take the Crossways Trail where it connects to the Green Ribbon in Penllyn Woods and follow to Crossways Preserve.
3. Arrive at Crossways Preserve
Follow the main trail down into the meadow and loop around the large fence, which protects a sensitive wetland area from deer. Then, retrace your steps back to Ambler.
4. Stop in at the Ambler Farmer's Market
The Ambler Farmer’s Market is a great place to grab local coffee and snacks before the train ride home.
This one-mile loop is part of my daily break from the strenuous job of CGO at our headquarters. The route is not hilly, the only up and down is when I cross the two bridges. I get to see the seasons change, make a shallow crossing of the creek and see birds, sniff flowers and lots of trees.
Everyone, especially leashed dogs
Best time to go:
Anytime dawn to dusk
1. Start at Wissahickon Trails’ headquarters
Before we hit the trail at Four Mills Nature Reserve, my ‘Mom’ picks up a poop bag at the base of the first bridge.
2. Walk over the first bridge
I usually turn left and follow the trail that hugs the creek. We pass by a vernal pond, a small rocky ‘beach’, and bend to the right where we cross the creek and join the Green Ribbon Trail.
3. Visit the meadow
The lovely grove of trees guides us as we stay to the left eventually coming to a meadow where we cut to the right on the Rotary Trail. The end of the meadow gives way back to the Green Ribbon Trail as we turn right and again hug the creek.
4. Rest on the benches
There is a spot with curved benches just before we get back to the set of bridges to complete our walk. Mom likes that there is a waste can for my poop bag – yes, I’ve trained her well!
5. Back to work
The parking lot is just over the bridges, you can go on to your next adventure, for me it’s back to work!
Dodsworth is a small but mighty preserve, and my favorite place to be in the fall. This preserve is a magnet for migrating monarch butterflies and is also good for migrating hawks and other birds. Complete the .43 mile trail in a figure eight to maximize your exploration.
Anyone. Paved path is level and stroller friendly.
Best time to go:
September and October
1. Park at Dodsworth Run Preserve
From the parking lot, head toward the “chimney” which we installed as a nest site for Chimney Swifts.
2. Climb into the Hawks Nest
Follow the path to the boardwalk and make a left. Climb up into the Hawk’s Nest for a birds-eye-view. Watch for monarch butterflies feeding on the blooming goldenrod.
3. Watch for Bluebirds
Connect to the sidewalk and go right following the path around the back of the preserve. Keep an eye out for bluebirds and tree swallows which nest in the boxes on the preserve.
4. Return to the parking lot
Cut back across the boardwalk, but this time head left back toward the parking lot on the sidewalk.