Harmony Hill Nature Area
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:1183 Harmony Hill Road, Downingtown, PA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free

eastbradford.org, 610-436-5108

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

eastbradford.org (click on Maps)

Lush woods and towering rocks beautifully frame a family-friendly multiuse trail along the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek.

Harmony Hill Nature Area
Photo by: Susan Charkes

The East Branch Brandywine Trail, a multiuse paved path good for walkers, bikers, and strollers, runs along its namesake creek for 2.6 miles beginning at the Sugar’s Bridge Nature Area at Skelp Level Road (the M. John Johnson Nature Center). Easiest access to this trail is from the parking area at Harmony Hill Road, about 1 mile north. The trail is popular with families because it is flat, wide, and pretty, with no busy road crossings. (There is a gated crossing at Harmony Hill Road, which is lightly traveled.)

Just north of Harmony Hill Road, the trail connects to 6.5 miles of naturalsurface bike/hike trails that climb into the rocky wooded ravine of Harmony Hill Nature Area. These hilly trails are much too challenging for younger bikers but not a problem for hiking—especially for older kids. (Remember to keep an eye out for the bikes.) The woods are remarkably rich and full of wildlife and the rocks that the trail traverses are lustrous. From rock outcrops along the way, and an overlook at the top of the ridge, there are good views across the valley when the leaves are off. Trails are extremely well marked but it helps to consult the map at the kiosk in the parking lot to get an idea where they cross each other. A good hour-long loop hike follows the white-blazed trail uphill from the East Branch Brandywine Trail; this trail ends at a fork with the blue-blazed trail going in both directions; continue on the blue trail counterclockwise to loop back to the fork via the green-blazed trail.

You can fish from many access points along the creek. Boats can be put in for paddling from Gibson’s Bridge at Harmony Hill Road (a downstream takeout is at Shaw’s Bridge Park, where swimming in the creek is popular).

Remember: Dogs must be leashed. Alternate parking is at the M. John Johnson Nature Center on Skelp Level Road, where additional natural footpaths traverse the hills and connect to the paved trail.

Plan B:

Marsh Creek State Park nearby has a large lake for paddling and fishing, and a swimming pool.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Harmony Hill is between the commercial areas of Downingtown and West Chester on the US 322 bypass.


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