Trexler Nature Preserve
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:5150 Game Preserve Road, Schnecksville, PA
Hours:North Range, dawn to dusk daily; Central Range, April 1 through October 31, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., November 1 through March 31, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Outside environmental center; at the zoo; portable toilets at Jordan Creek ford
Water/Snacks: Water fountain and snack bars at the zoo

May be available at the environmental center and at the zoo, and at kiosks around the preserve

Discover animals (native and not-so-native) while you hike along the trail.

Trexler Nature Preserve
Photo by: Susan Charkes

The 1,108-acre Trexler Nature Preserve was originally a game preserve established by Colonel Harry Clay Trexler, father of Allentown’s park system, to protect bison, elk, and white-tailed deer. Herds of bison and elk still graze here in protected areas and can be viewed from the trails. (The deer, though, are not protected and roam the preserve freely.) Centuries ago, elk and bison were native to southeastern Pennsylvania; nowadays they live here only in captivity.

The preserve is divided into North, Central, and South ranges. Only two are open, the North and Central. The Jordan Creek flows through all of the ranges. The preserve’s extensive forests and network of streams interspersed with open fields create a habitat rich for diverse wildlife—and ripe for exploring.

A good place to start and a favorite spot for kids at the preserve has long been the Jordan Creek ford, where the main road crosses the creek; it’s fun to watch cars roll through the stream, and you can walk across the ford too, if you’ve brought your water shoes. Kids can also explore the creek, looking for frogs and fish.

The recently built environmental center, which has many “green,” energyefficient features, is perched on a high hill in the Central Range, near Orchard Road. An observation deck—in between the solar panels on the vegetative roof—affords a great view of the preserve.

More than 18 miles of trails are at the preserve, many open to mountain bikes and horses. Trails are color-blazed, and numbered kiosks orient you to where you are on the trail map. The trails range from easy to difficult; most are short and can be combined into longer hikes or loops. A 0.3-mile Observation

Trail loop goes around the environmental center. The 1.2-mile, double-redblazed Covered Bridge Trail in the Central Range is ADA-accessible; it ends at a fishing area on the Jordan Creek (near the ford) for kids and physically challenged anglers. You’ll find the trail off of Old Packhouse Road at a parking lot near Geiger’s Covered Bridge. The moderately difficult, 1.5-mile Elk Viewing Trail offers views of bison as well as elk.

The longest trail, and the only one rated “difficult” for hiking, is the 8.5-mile, red-blazed Trexler Border Trail that loops around the outer edges of the Central and North ranges.

In winter the preserve’s open hills are good for cross-country skiing and the trails in the woods make good snowshoe paths.

Remember: Dogs must be leashed. The North Range is open to bowhunting in deer season. The Jordan Creek Greenway, a trail under development, will eventually connect the preserve to Allentown, to the south, and the Appalachian Trail, to the north.

Plan B:

Young kids will love the Lehigh Valley Zoo in the Central Range (fee charged; The exhibits feature a small but diverse collection of animals—both domestic and exotic. Kids can watch the penguins feeding and then feed goats and birds. There is also a playground.

Where to Eat Nearby:

It’s best to bring a picnic.


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