Pennypack Preserve

812 acres — 11.0 miles of trails

What’s to love

Let’s start with a quick clarification: this is the Pennypack Preserve—supported by the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust and located in Montgomery County—and not Pennypack Park, which is a well-known city park in Northeast Philadelphia.

The names can get confusing. In fact, when my boyfriend gifted me a trail map of Pennypack Preserve, I spent half an hour trying to figure out why none of the trails seemed to line up with the Pennypack I had on the map. “There was a historic train wreck in Pennypack Park…?” Well no, there wasn’t, but there was one at Pennypack Preserve! The area was also home to 18th century farmhouses, springhouses, bridges, and several paper mills and their dams—the ruins of which you can still see today.

The modern Pennypack Preserve got its start in 1970, when a group came together with the goal of improving local water quality by protecting the watershed around Pennypack Creek. Over the years they’ve expanded their conservation efforts to 812 acres of former sheep farms, grassy meadows, old growth forests, and forest floodplains. They’ve also planted nearly 11,000 native trees and many acres of wildflowers and grasses. Seriously, there are wildflowers everywhere.

Between the variety of environments, the historical sites, the wild turkeys, and the beautiful views of the creek, there’s enough to enjoy in the Preserve that my phone battery died in my attempt to document it all. And I have charging case. So be prepared: this is a 2+ phone battery hike!

Tips and quirks

  • Scramble up the rocky cliffs along Pennypack Trail for the best views of the creek. I spotted a red fox from my vantage point at the top.
  • The Creek Road and Webb Walk trails are particularly picturesque, offering a peaceful and cool (as in temperature, though the view is neat too) walk along the creek banks and past the old springhouse.
  • You can (I think) still find the location of the historic train crash—the tracks are there and the place where they pass through a cut in the rocks should be fairly obvious—though I wasn’t able to spot it from the main trail.
  • A few years back, a nesting pair of bald eagles took over an old hawk nest in the southwest corner of the park. You can watch them on the eagle cam.
  • Sorry, no pets allowed in the Preserve.

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Last updated: April 16, 2021