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Nature Walk at Stroud Preserve

110501 Abiah Taylor Barn from Stroud Preserve 013 tm
Abiah Taylor Barn from Stroud Preserve

Was another Sunday morning in our household, and I had promised the kids that I would take them on another nature walk, but this time someplace new.

In the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to check out the park next to the Abiah Taylor Barn in West Chester.

While sitting on the couch and my laptop open and surfing, I fired up Google Earth to search for more information on the little park next to the barn that I’d seen in December.

Because I had geo-tagged my images from the last visit, it was easy to find the park again, and thankfully the map showed a name, Stroud Preserve, that I could further look-up.

I was easily able to find more information on Stroud preserve, and what I found amazing is that the preserve is actually part of 332 acre Water Research Center created by Dr. Morris W Stroud in the early 1990s.

To get the kid’s approval, I showed him some more of the pictures on Google Earth, and told them about what I had read.

They both seemed excited, so we gathered some provisions, backed up and headed off for our Sunday journey.

As we turned onto North Creek Road, I pointed out the barn, drove a little further, and turned into the parking lot.

Both Madison and Logan were eager to get out of the car and start running around.

I took a couple of photographs of the barn from the opposite direction trying to capture all of the yellow flowers that were carpeting the fields.

We crossed over the bridge and started down the long path that was in front of us.

To the left of us were steep hills blanketed in yellow and to the right some marshland that led to additional fields.

As we walked, I was amazed to see all the various birds flying around and was busy trying to point them out to the kids, including listening to the unique calls such as the red-winged blackbird.

110501 Stroud Preserve 075 tm of yellow flowers
Stroud Preserve – Fields of yellow flowers

While I was setting up another shot with my tripod, a fellow photographer was walking by and we started to chat.

During our conversation, we exchanged information about the preserve, and started to talk about the Flickr and Facebook groups, and finally realized that we both knew each other from the Chester County Flickr group!

Turns out that, Kelly Colgan Azar, is a long time visitor to the preserve and does a lot of ornithological photography in the area.

110501 Stroud Preserve 104 tm - Research Center
Stroud Preserve – Research Center

After a few more minutes of talking, and the kids being very patient while Kelly and I talked, we said our goodbyes and continue down the path.

As we got closer to the split in the path, it was amazing to see that even with all the rain that we have been having, the pond was missing several feet of water which was exposing the pond bottom.

We continued up the small little head towards the barn and once we got to the top we took notice of the sign saying that the area was off-limits because it was a private residence. To the people who live in the house, I am very envious!

Heading back down the hill, both kids wanted to find a path down to the pond to see what they could find, but I had to explain to them, that it was nothing but mud and we would probably get very dirty if not stuck, and it would be very hard for mommy to find us, let alone get us out!

Thankfully, they agreed and we started down the other branch of the path heading south.

Shortly into the trail, we decided to head up the steep path to the top of the hill, and once at the top, we stopped and rested while we drank some water and recovered from the climb.

After arrest, we walked the path along the ridge, and eventually reached the tree line and started down the wooded path.

At first Madison was very scared to go down the path because she feared rolling down through the woods, but her brother happily skipped along the path, causing me to tell him to slow down.

110501 Stroud Preserve 145 tm - Wooded Trail
Stroud Preserve – Wooded Trail

I stood with Madison near the top for a second and pointed out the switch-back nature of the path, and how it would help us get down the trail without injuring ourselves. Finally she agreed and we continued on.

It was really surprising to see how lush the trees were so early in the spring, and the flooring of the woods was covered in Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) that were still young and had not even developed flowers yet to bear fruit.

Finally we got to the bottom, turned right and followed the path along the Brandywine Creek, heading once again in the southerly direction. Eventually we had to turn around because of the “no trespassing” signs that marked the edge of the preserve.

We continued along the Creek path, exiting the woods and finding our way back to the main path, taking a right and heading back towards the bridge where the kids wanted to do some more exploring.

Once the exploring was done we headed back to the car, climbed in and headed towards the Highlands Orchard the to get some fresh apples and maybe something else, but that is another story for another time.

- Andrew
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June 3, 2011 – Madison published her First Blog post based on this walk!

By Andrew

A Father, Photographer and Computer Geek living in Chester County (PA).

My Photo Journal of images taken in Chester and Lancaster Counties, including Covered Bridges, Barns, Nature, Fine Art and Events. Images can also be found on and