“Eee –o-lay” is the throaty flute like song of the Wood Thrush, a cinnamon-backed songbird that sings from the branches of the Beech trees, Tulip Poplars and Sugar Maples make up the centuries’ old northern hardwood forest called Camp Woods – a tract remarkable for its primitive appeal and towering trees (some nearly 100 feet tall!). Arriving from South America in early May, the Wood Thrush is at home on the 36-acre preserve, which is perhaps the largest remnant of northern deciduous forest in the region. Birdlife abounds, with the Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Red Eyed Vireo and Red Shouldered Hawk living here last spring.
Other species easily found on the Preserve and representative of the herpterofauna and insect worlds include the Red backed salamander, Woodland skippers, brown and four spotted lacewings, meadow fritillaries, and brushfoots. Comma butterflies are also frequent visitors from May through September.
The Camp Woods Preserve is not only significant for its natural beauty, but also for its history; it earned its name during the Revolutionary War, after the Continental Army encamped nearby following the loss of the Battle of Germantown. Elements of the Revolutionary Army tended their wounded and buried the dead in the vicinity of Camp Woods near Boehm’s Church. Washington and his officers stayed at the Dawesfield manor house. Because of its history, Camp Woods had not been lumbered since the Revolutionary War.
In a wonderful act of generosity and civic-mindedness, a local resident, Phoebe Wetzel, donated 30 acres of prime real estate to WVWA so that the historic nature of this hallowed ground would be forever protected. Another family, the Chestons donated their 5-acre parcel to WVWA, contributing significantly to the ecological integrity of the entire tract. Finally, the Carey family, owners of the present day Dawesfield, also donated land to this now 68-acre preserve.
Today, the symbol of ecological restoration at Camp Woods is a 60 x 100 foot exclosure, a sanctuary for returning dozens of species of native flowers, shrubs, trees and grasses. Here, the native vegetation will be restored to mimic a healthy forest where deer do not over browse the herbaceous plant layer and regenerating trees. The increased variety of plants will help attract native, beneficial insects and wildlife that may have been absent in recent years. Click here for details about the deer exclosure.
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Access: (1) From Armentrout Preserve, follow the trail nearest Morris Road as it crosses a private driveway and enters Camp Woods. (2) Lewis Lane to Miles Drive to Mason Drive in Whitpain Township. Access to the Preserve is marked by a sign at the edge of the woods. From the end of Mason Drive, walk straight back to the sign. The property owner has granted an easement for the purpose of public access to Camp Woods. Please be mindful that you are walking on private property.
Parking: On Mason Drive or Harrow Lane
Size: 36 acres
Habitat: Mature forest
Trails: Natural, unpaved trails, shared by walkers and equestrians. Some wet spots, hilly terrain. Trails within the woods and in adjacent meadows total 1.4 miles. Connects with Armentrout Preserve trails (see above).
Dogs must be kept on leashes.