Briar Hill, Ambler’s Own Preserve, is a Shade-Grown Beauty

Photo by Margaret Rohde
New footbridge installed by Wissahickon Trails at Prophecy Creek Park.
by 
Gail Farmer, Wissahickon Trails Executive Director
Photos by Kristy Morley
Top: A Red fox on the prowl at Briar Hill Preserve; Bottom: A snapping turtle catches some rays at Briar Hill.

If you have never visited our Briar Hill Preserve in Ambler, now is a great time to lace up your hiking books and head to the trail. Briar Hill — and the adjacent Cheston Family Preserve at Briar Hill — is an incredible piece of preserved land in the Wissahickon watershed. This tucked-away spot is located next to Whitpain Township’s Prophecy Creek Park.

The simplest way to enter Briar Hill is through Prophecy Creek Park. Enter from Skippack Pike in Blue Bell and park in Prophecy Creek’s large lot. Head past the barn and through the grassy field to the woodline to enter the trails. There are several to choose from, including a nice loop trail around the Preserve.

The trails are forested and shady, which makes this a great hike for a summer morning or evening. Wildlife is abundant at Briar Hill, and you can hope to see and hear a variety of bird species, amphibians, butterflies, red foxes and, if you are lucky, a coyote.

You will cross the Prophecy Creek and some smaller tributaries along the way, so be sure to wear your hiking boots. Wissahickon Trails has recently installed a new footbridge across one of the muddier and more challenging creek crossings. The bridge, which can accommodate hikers and people on horseback, was made possible with donations from more than 50 trail users and a matching gift from Horseways, a local equestrian club that uses and supports our trails.

Briar Hill Preserve is a living testament to what a community can accomplish when working together. Since 1981, we have been working with individuals and community partners to protect the area along Prophecy Creek. Thanks to these collective efforts, Briar Hill is part of a 200-acre contiguous stretch of open space along the creek. Thanks to the protected open space, the Prophecy Creek is now considered the healthiest tributary to the Wissahickon.