Crow’s Nest Preserve
A nature preserve composed of four 19th-century farms
Look for wood ducks along French Creek and keep your ear turned for the songs of wood thrushes, vireos and warblers in the 600+ acres of Crow’s Nest Preserve. A great place for hiking or wildlife watching, Crow’s Nest has a visitor center in a restored 19th-century barn.
You might see the footprints of fox, raccoon and deer, or even catch a glimpse of a beaver.
The meadows are lush with warm-season grasses and wildflowers, and the native trees give it vibrant color in the fall.
Part of one of the largest areas of protected land in the region, Crow’s Nest Preserve is a gateway to Hopewell Big Woods, a 73,000-acre expanse of forest that reaches as far north as Berks County.
French Creek, designated by the Commonwealth as an “Exceptional Quality” stream, runs through Crow’s Nest. The preserve’s streamside forest helps protect the creek’s water quality. However, most of the woods in this area were cut in the 1800s to make charcoal to fuel iron-making furnaces.
Over the past few decades, the forests have regenerated and today represent diverse habitats, from dry, rocky, oak-dominated uplands to swampy floodplain forests.
Located next to both French Creek State Park and the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, the preserve provides environmental education and research opportunities.
The first parcels of the preserve were donated to Natural Lands Trust in 1991. The trust manages the land for native habitat as well as for agricultural and passive public use. The visitor center is located in a restored barn, and farmhouses on the property are being restored for staff housing and program uses.
The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset. Pets must be leashed, while alcoholic beverages, motorized vehicles and mountain bikes are not allowed. Maps and other material are available in the kiosk by the parking area.
The Crow’s Nest Open House, on the first Saturday in June, and the Contra Dance, held every October.
Crow’s Nest Preserve has a blog! It’s called From the Field. Be sure to check it out before visiting.