Stroud Preserve
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:350 North Creek Road, West Chester, PA
Hours:Sunrise to sunset daily
Fee: Free
Contact:, 610-344-3443

Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None
Map: (click on List of Preserves, then Stroud)

Amble through expansive wildflower meadows and farm fields in a serene rural landscape.

Stroud Preserve
Photo by: Susan Charkes

The 571-acre Stroud Preserve is an extraordinarily well-maintained natural area, a mosaic of farm fields, wildflower meadows, and woods that provides opportunities for walking, nature observation, and fishing. It’s a place made for spending quiet time together discovering the wonder of small things, enveloped by the serene Chester County countryside.

A wide old stone bridge next to the parking area crosses a branch of the Brandywine Creek. It’s a good place for introductory fishing lessons. Follow the trails along the creek to find more-secluded spots for angling.

The woods walks just past the bridge are flat and good for very young children. Older kids will take to the challenge of trails that run up and down the rolling hills. Many of the trails go around crop fields, so kids can follow the fields’ progress from tilled earth to hay rolls. Horses are permitted on some trails; since this is horse country, an up-close-and-personal encounter is not unlikely.

Extensive open meadow views reward learning how to use binoculars to watch hawks soar high overhead or rare bobolinks bursting out of tall meadow grasses, burbling their electronic-sounding song. Budding photographers will find a profusion of subjects, from close-ups of flowers and horses to longdistance landscapes with gorgeous light. Numerous benches provide ample opportunities for resting and snacking.

Trails are easy to navigate—well marked and cleanly trimmed—with maps available at the trailhead and at key points throughout the preserve. In a clever touch, the meadow trail markers also function as bird nesting boxes. In spring and summer the birds play peek-a-boo. In early summer, bobolinks nest in the upper meadows.

Natural Lands Trust, the nonprofit that manages the preserve, has a smartphone app called SCVNGR that engages kids in interactive, fun activities as they follow the trail. Download the app from the preserve’s website. In winter, if it snows, Stroud’s trails are excellent for snowshoes or skis.

Remember: Pets are permitted only on the gravel trail and must be leashed. Stroud has plenty of trails that go along, though not across, streams and ponds, so it may not be the ideal place to take kids who crave a good splashing.

Plan B:

Myrick Conservation Center is nearby; it offers similar trails and a pond where you can picnic. Natural Lands Trust plans to develop the 1,263-acre ChesLen Preserve, also nearby, into a nature center; it has extensive similar trails as well as access to the creek for paddling.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Return to the borough of West Chester, where there are many restaurants.


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