New Name, Same Mission: Preserving Land, Protecting the Watershed

Gail Farmer, Wissahickon Trails Executive Director

Although so much of our work is evolving in response to COVID-19, we are still planning to move forward with a big change. After more than a year of careful consideration, Wissahickon Valley Watershed has started doing business as Wissahickon Trails. 

Please know that our staff, mission, and core values stay the same. What’s changing is how we present ourselves to the public. 

We chose “Wissahickon Trails” because trails are the gateway for people to experience every aspect of our work – from land preservation to protecting the Wissahickon Creek, to learning about the natural world. We know our mission is about so much more than trails. But trails are what connect land, water, and people. 

As I write this, we are under a stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Under the Governor’s order, outdoor activities are still permitted, and so our trails remain open. We couldn’t be happier to share our trails with you – especially now when you need them most. Allowing for public exercise and activity in nature is important, and our priority is to protect the health and safety of users and staff. When using the trails, follow all CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

These guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Maintain social distancing — stay six feet apart from other users. If you can’t, due to crowds, please leave the trail.
  • Visit on your own or with people with whom you live.
  • If the parking lot is full, so is the trail. Please come back at another time or visit another preserve. 
  • Bring and use hand sanitizer frequently; soap and water are not available on the trails.
  • If you think you may be sick, stay at home.
  • Be kind to your fellow trail users. Keep your dog on its leash and clean up and remove its waste. Take note of our signs outlining our other trail rules.

We aim to keep our trails open so long as it remains safe for trail users and our staff. One challenge we are facing is crowding. Our trails are being used by significantly more people than usual, especially on weekends and in good weather. Crowded trails make it difficult to maintain social distance, making trail use an unsafe activity. Please help us ensure that we can keep our trails open by not crowding the trails (see guidelines above).

We have 12 nature preserves and 24 miles of trails for you to explore. Several of them are typically less busy and have plenty of parking. Consider visiting one of the preserves below:

Piszek Preserve, 700 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Oreland
This preserve is located along Sandy Run and boasts woodlands, wetlands and meadows. A paved 0.6-mile path makes it stroller friendly. Parking is in the small gravel parking lot shared with the community garden at Christ’s Lutheran Church — Oreland.

Dodsworth Run Preserve, 512 Dickerson Rd., North Wales
This small but mighty preserve is a great place for families. Visitors can enjoy a raised hawk’s nest observation deck, a chimney swift tower, and benches. The vernal pond is a favorite spot for birds. The 0.43-mile trail is paved and stroller friendly. There is a paved parking lot off of Dickerson Road.

Willow Lake Farm, 7300 Butler Pike, Ambler
As you walk this 2.4-mile natural trail, pastures turn into forest and woodland habitats. This trail lies adjacent to an active farm, so you might have a chance to see horses during your hike! Please remember to stay on the trail during your visit and be mindful of private property. Parking and the trailhead are located in the back of the parking lot behind the CVS.

Briar Hill Preserve, 205 W Skippack Pike, Ambler
Briar Hill Preserve — and the adjacent Cheston Family Preserve at Briar Hill — is located next to Whitpain Township’s Prophecy Creek Park. This preserve begins just past the manor house at Prophecy Creek. The 0.75-mile natural trail is rich with wildlife and protects Prophecy Creek, the healthiest creek in the Wissahickon watershed. Parking is in the Prophecy Creek Park lot.

Visit our new website,, and use the interactive map tool to find the right trail for you. And if our trails have helped you during this difficult time, please consider making a donation to support their care and maintenance.