Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:2910 New Holland Road, Reading, PA
Hours:Trails open sunrise to sunset; park office open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: At Sawmill trailhead parking lot, Boulevard trail crossing, and near Fire Gate 5
Water/Snacks: None
Map: (click on Find a Park)

Hike a variety of trails through a remarkably rich forest.

The Dock at Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center
Photo by: Brian Kelly

At the 665-acre Nolde Forest, 10 miles of trails lead through a remarkable woodland that combines native hardwoods with conifer plantations, for yearround green. Several of the trails—gravel-surface former fire roads—combine the ease of walking in a park with the wild surroundings of a forest. Others—narrow, dirt footpaths—follow winding courses along streams and wooded hills, and to ponds. The beauty of the former Nolde family estate is preserved in the converted mansion that serves as a park office and picnic pavilion, and in stone bridges and walls.

The trails are generally well marked, well maintained, and easy to follow. Trail maps are available at trailhead kiosks. From the Sawmill trailhead, go up stairs and cross the dam to get onto Watershed Trail, which leads up a small creek called Punches Run, passes the mansion, and intersects Boulevard Trail. Follow Boulevard Trail, an easy old fire road, to loop around the eastern half of the park for 2 miles, passing over a large rock outcrop that’s fun for kids to climb on. Or take Watershed Trail to Kissinger Trail, another old fire road, which takes you to the Painted Turtle Pond by way of Chestnut Trail. This wide pond, bordered by meadows, attracts turtles, frogs, and salamanders, as well as butterflies and dragonflies. Benches here offer a good spot for a picnic lunch.

Whichever trail you choose, make sure to visit the stone mansion. It has whimsical detailed stone carvings, iron work, and leaded glass windows that kids will enjoy discovering (especially around the entrance to what was the Nolde children’s nursery). A covered stone arcade with picnic tables is a perfect place to sit on a hot day. A stroller-friendly, ADA-accessible trail loops around the mansion. An unpaved old road with an easy grade, suitable for strollers, connects the Sawmill area (at the bathrooms) to the mansion.

There’s good fishing in the trout-stocked Angelica Creek, below the Sawmill. In snowy winters, the wide trails are great for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, and the forest is a silent wonderland.

Remember: Dogs must be leashed. Bikes are not permitted on trails.

Plan B:

At Blue Marsh Lake you can hike, bike, swim, fish, or paddle.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Nolde is a good picnic spot, but if you follow PA 422 in either direction you will find restaurants and shops.


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