Four Mills Nature Reserve is the 52.75-acre site of woods that stretches from Butler Pike on the north to the woods across Morris Road, towards Germantown Academy. WVWA purchased Four Mills from the Natural Lands Trust (NLT). It includes WVWA's Headquarters in the Four Mills Barn. This land and Barn were once part of the Bergner, and later McLean, estates. Prominent architect Horace Trumbauer designed the Four Mills Barn in 1891 that now serves as WVWA offices with the McLean Loft (1982) on the second floor.
In 2008 the long anticipated Ambler Rotary pedestrian bridge over the Wissahickon Creek to WVWA officially opened. The bridge crosses the Wissahickon below Butler Pike, creating an important connecting link from the Borough of Ambler to Four Mills. This project was over seven years in the making and represents a wonderful collaboration for community benefit. The bridge was a project of the Ambler Rotary Club and honors Rotary International’s Centennial.
In 2011 the Rose Rubenstein Stepping Stone Crossing was added connecting this Reserve to Germantown Academy and continuing the Green Ribbon Trail.
This preserve lies within the Wissahickon Creek’s beautiful floodplain, and consists largely of wooded areas, rich with red maple, box elder, sycamore, bitternut hickory and American elm in the canopy, with Wild leek, white snakeroot, mayapple, and jack-in-the-pulpit intermingling on the forest floor.
While the preserve is mostly forested, there is also a notably large wetland located on its southeastern portion, near Morris Road. This area consists of native species such as skunk-cabbage, tussock sedge, floating manna grass, and sharp-fruited rush.
Prophecy Creek, Stuart Farm Creek, and Spring Run all join the Wissahickon Creek on this preserve; the varied waterways, riparian areas, and wetlands of this preserve make it a haven for a gorgeous array of dragonflies and damselflies, who are reliant on those habitats for much of their life cycles. These fast-flying insects often like to rest in sunny patches, especially along footpaths.
Herpterofauna (reptiles and amphibians) abounds here; a trip around the preserve yields sightings of two-lined and red-backed salamanders, Northern Ring-necked and Northern water snakes, and of course, green and pickerel frogs and American toads are often seen hopping along the creek and trail sides. Eastern Box turtles have been documented here as well, so keep your eyes out!
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Access: From the parking lot of WVWA at 12 Morris Road.
Parking: WVWA parking lot
Habitat: Woods with stream; some wet areas.
Trails: Two loop trails, each about 0.5 miles in length, take you along the Creek and into the woods. Two steel bridges with steep steps cross the Wissahickon from WVWA headquarters barn. Interpretive signs help you understand what you are observing.
Amenities: Headquarters building is open Monday – Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm with access to restrooms and information. Interpretive signs along loop trails. Picnic tables at headquarters building.
Dogs must be kept on leashes.