Crossways Preserve is a landscape of beautiful natural features; meadows with native grasses and wildflowers, stands of towering hardwood trees, wetlands with cattails, bulrushes and moisture loving plants and small rivulets that emerge from the ground with cold, clear water. All of this diversity accounts for why the Crossways Preserve has the highest number of native plant species of all of the WVWA Preserves.
Formerly called the Harris Family’s Crossway Farm, it was acquired by the WVWA in 1997, owing in part to the generosity and leadership of Saly Glassman, who owns the neighboring Kindle Hill Farm. Together this land offers an opportunity for the birdwatcher, butterfly enthusiast, hiker and equestrian to explore the well maintained trails and paths.
Because of its diversity, Crossways was chosen as the template preserve for how we manage our land, and the first preserve for which we have created a Conservation Management Plan to be implemented over a ten-year period. It is also the site of our summer bird banding station, established in 2015.
The banding station operates as part of the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program, created by the Institute for Bird Populations – a nonprofit based in Point Reyes, California, dedicated to research on the abundance, distribution, and ecology of birds, in response to bird population declines. The project seeks to understand the factors that influence their survival and productivity (the main drivers of population change) over time. The data we collect is not only contributed to this continent-wide project, but is also used in our management decisions.
Throughout the year, the preserve acts as a haven for many species of plants and wildlife, each of which serves an important role in maintaining the biological integrity of the site. During the spring and fall, thousands of migratory birds pass through, stopping over to rest and refuel along their long journey.
In 2015, WVWA installed nesting boxes to be monitored by staff and Trail Stewards (to learn more about our Trail Stewards program, click here). Many species have used the boxes and succefully fledged young, including tree swallows and eastern bluebirds. All nestlings are banded, allowing us to collect data on their populations over time.
The restored meadows provide food for countless pollinator species which need particular plants to thrive, like the Monarch butterfly and the juniper hairstreak, a 'Species of Greatest Conservation Need' in Pennsylvania, along with many bee and dragonfly species.
In 2015, an exclosure was erected to create an area where deer cannot browse the vegetation, allowing for the restoration of native species, and the re-establishment of a healthy landscape where deer are prevented from over browsing – and therefore, negatively impacting – the plant community. The increased variety of plants that will grow under the protection of the exclosure will help attract native, beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife to Crossways Preserve and give WVWA staff and the public a learning opportunity. Please read the more about the project here.
We hope you'll visit, and enjoy all that Crossways Preserve has to offer!
View Crossways Preserve in a larger map
Access: On Cathcart Road between Morris Road and Township Line Road in Whitpain Township.
Parking: There is a small parking lot about mid-way on Cathcart Road.
Habitat: Meadows, Woodland. Several acres are being allowed to progress through natural succession.
Trails: A 1.5 mile walking and riding trail begins from a parking space off Cathcart Road. In some places, the equestrian and pedestrian trails diverge. Please remember you are sharing the trails, and do not approach the corrals.
Dogs must be kept on leashes.