EXPLORE: Chester County, PA

  • Enjoy EXPLORE-ing these wonderful places. Check them out by county or location.



Brandywine Red Clay Alliance

Location: 1760 Unionville-Wawaset Rd West Chester, PA

Description: Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, formed in 2015 from a merger of the nation’s two oldest small watershed conservation organizations, is your local leader in protecting the environment. They organize volunteers for action, connect students of all ages and recreation enthusiasts to the outdoors, improve the quality and quantity of water, and unite their members in standing tall for the natural resources of our communities. Their work began in 1945 when a handful of concerned citizens realized poorly treated wastewater and soil erosion posed serious threats to local creeks and water supplies.

Activities and programs at the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance

Bucktoe Creek Preserve

Location: Sharp Rd. Avondale, PA

Description: Bucktoe Creek Preserve is a 297-acre privately owned natural area located near Kennett Square, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The preserve is managed to enhance biodiversity and promote sound ecological stewardship through forest, meadow, and wetland restoration. Their primary goals are to provide a stable location for long-term environmental monitoring and ecological research, a refuge for threatened flora and fauna, and a site for educating naturalists of all ages and at all levels of expertise. Bucktoe Creek Preserve is not open to the public but can be accessed through educational programming hosted on the preserve by one of their partners. Please visit the preserve through one of the scheduled programs, or contact them to request a guided tour.

Activities and Programs at Bucktoe Creek Preserve 

French Creek State Park

Location: 843 Park Road Elverson, PA

Description: Once an industrial complex for the fledgling United States of America, today French Creek State Park is an oasis for people and wildlife. Straddling the Schuylkill Highlands, the 7,730-acre park is the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington D.C. and New York City. The forests, lakes, wetlands, and fields are a destination for the people of southeast Pennsylvania to hike, fish, camp, and bike. Those same habitats are homes to many animals and plants that are rare in this corner of the commonwealth. French Creek State Park is an Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society, and an Important Mammal Area as designated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

Hopewell Big Woods 

Location: Southeast of Pottstown, PA.

Description: The Hopewell Woods is the last large, unbroken forest left in southeastern Pennsylvania. Encircles French Creek State Park and the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

 Activities and Events at Hopewell Big Woods

The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County

Location: 541 Chandler Mill Rd. Avondale, PA

Description: At The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC), their mission is to ensure the perpetual preservation and stewardship of open space, natural resources, historic sites, and working agricultural lands throughout Southern Chester County. Their work focuses on establishing conservation corridors, protecting historic sites, providing walkable communities through trail linkages, and offering ecological education and outreach programs for professionals, students, and underserved members of the community. Their goal is to provide meaningful, hands-on interaction with the land that not only feeds our bodies, but also nourishes our health, our creativity, and our spirits.

Activities and Programs at the Land Conservancy

Longwood Gardens

Location: 1001 Longwood Road Kennett Square, PA

Description: Started in 1906, Longwood Gardens is a horticultural showplace. The gardens cover 1,077 acres of land, including gardens, woodlands, and natural meadows. Longwood offers twenty outdoor gardens, including an Idea Garden,

Activities and Programs at Longwood

Marsh Creek State Park 

Location: 675 Park Road Downingtown, PA

Description: Marsh Creek State Park is in the rolling hills of north central Chester County. The 1,727-acre park contains the 535-acre Marsh Creek Lake, which is a wonderful resource for fishing, sailing, and migrating waterfowl.

Activities and Programs at Marsh Creek State Park 

Natural Lands

Description: Natural Lands is a non-profit organization that saves open space, cares for nature and connects people to the outdoors in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. They have been at it since the early 1950s and, today, more than 2.5 million people live within five miles of lands under their permanent protection. Each preserve hosts a variety of amazing programs.

Activities and Programs at Natural Lands

Binky Lee Preserve

Location: 1445 Pikeland Road, Chester Springs, PA

Description: Binky Lee Preserve is an expanse of former agricultural land that is being converted back to natural woodlands and meadows. Returning the land to nature actually requires a great deal of care and skill. For more than two decades, they have employed a range of restoration techniques to improve these habitats so plants and wildlife can thrive, and for people to enjoy.

Cheslen Preserve

 Location: 1199 Cannery Road, Coatesville, PA

Description: ChesLen Preserve is the largest privately owned nature preserve open to the public in Chester County. Miles of marked hiking trails lead visitors through shady woodlands, flower-filled meadows, fields of corn and soybeans, and stream valleys. Visitors can also explore Ollie Owl’s Nature Playground, where young explorers can climb logs, build stick tee-pees, hunt for bugs, explore small streams, and get a little dirty, tired, and inspired. Free play is encouraged and is a great way for kids to gain an appreciation for nature.

Crow’s Nest Preserve

Location: 201 Piersol Road, Elverson, PA

Description: Crow’s Nest is the gateway to the Hopewell Big Woods, a 73,000-acre expanse of forest that reaches north into Berks County. Just next door, you’ll find French Creek State Park and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, making Crow’s Nest part of one of the largest areas of protected land in the region.

Peacedale Preserve

Location: Off of Peacedale Rd, 1 mile west of Rt. 896/New London Rd

Description: Peacedale Preserve includes two streams that flow into Big Elk Creek, which in turn leads to the Chesapeake Bay. The property also contains vast expanses of woodlands and hayfields, some of which are being restored to native grass meadows. The preserve, comprised of several parcels of acquired over many decades, is a wonderful example of just how long-term the work of land conservation can be.

Sadsbury Woods Preserve

Location: 443 Old Wilmington Road, Coatesville, PA

Description: Sadsbury Woods is part of the largest remaining, unfragmented woodlands in Chester County. The preserve is an important habitat for several species of birds—such as Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Ovenbird—that are dependent on its deep, sheltering forest for their survival.

Stroud Preserve

Location: 454 North Creek Road, West Chester, PA

Description: Stroud Preserve is a mosaic of once-pastured grasslands, working farmlands, and woodlands that serve as a unique site for recreation, education, and scientific research. Here, you can see the needs of people and nature in balance as careful stewardship of both cultivated and “wild” areas restores vital wildlife habitat while also protecting watersheds that provide drinking water for tens-of-thousands of people.

Willisbrook Preserve

Location: Willisbrook Preserve, Line Road, Malvern, PA

Description: Willisbrook Preserve is a mix of woods and grassland meadows, including just over 20 acres of a rare ecosystem known as the Sugartown Serpentine Barrens. These barrens support a variety of plant species, many of which are threatened or endangered. In 2010, the barrens were designated as a Wild Plant Sanctuary by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Stroud Water Research Center

Location: 970 Spencer Road, Avondale, Pa

Description: Since 1967, Stroud Water Research Center has been leading the effort to produce innovative solutions for preserving and restoring fresh water. They believe in an independent voice — and in adventure, inspiration, perseverance, and integrity. At the Stroud Center, they believe the future of freshwater starts here.

Activities and Programs at Stroud Center

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Location: 1400 North Outer Line Drive King of Prussia, PA

Description: Valley Forge National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. Few places evoke the spirit of patriotism and independence, represent individual and collective sacrifice, or demonstrate the resolve, tenacity, and determination of the people of the United States to be free as does Valley Forge.

Activities and Programs at Valley Forge National Park

White Clay Creek State Park

Location: 1475 Creek Rd Newark, DE

Description: The land that is today known as White Clay Creek State Park includes parts of the boundary line made famous by Mason and Dixon, who began their historic survey at “a post mark’d west,” a location that lies within the park. As overdevelopment in the northern part of the state became a matter of increasing concern in the late 1960s, the state began to purchase lands adjoining a small recreational park, which in 1975 became known as Walter S. Carpenter State Park. State land acquisitions and donations from the Du Pont family and others eventually enlarged the park to over 3,600 acres.

Activities and Programs at White Clay Creek State Park

White Clay Creek Preserve

Location: 405 Sharpless Road Landenberg, PA

Description: The 2,072-acre White Clay Creek Preserve is in southern Chester County, three miles north of Newark, Delaware. The White Clay Creek Valley, which forms the core of the preserve, varies from steep to gradually falling terrain with some flat bottomlands, all drained by the creek. White Clay Creek Preserve shares boundary with White Clay Creek State Park of Delaware. Because White Clay Creek possesses outstanding scenic, wildlife, recreational, and cultural value, it has been designated by Congress as a National Wild and Scenic River and shall be preserved in a free-flowing condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Activities and Programs at White Clay Creek Preserve

William Penn State Forest

Location: Gray Horse Road, Nottingham, PA

Description: Named for the founder of “Penn’s Woods,” William Penn State Forest contains 1,683 acres in 10 separate tracts across southeastern PA. The forest protects and conserves unique Pennsylvania ecosystems

Activities and Programs at William Penn State Forest

Willistown Conservation Trust

Location:  925 Providence Road Newtown Square, PA

Description: The mission of the Willistown Conservation Trust is to preserve and manage the open land, rural character, scenic, recreational, historic, agricultural and natural resources of the Willistown area and nearby communities, and to share these unique resources with people of all ages and backgrounds to inspire, educate and develop a lifelong commitment to the land and the natural world.

Activities and Programs at Willistown Conservation Trust

Updated: December 2018