14 Scenic Lehigh Valley Area Nature Preserves & Sanctuaries

14 Scenic Lehigh Valley Area Nature Preserves & Sanctuaries

Sometimes with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, all you really need is a little fresh air and a glimpse of nature to lower your stress levels. The Lehigh Valley is home to so many beautiful creatures and stunning nature preserves and sanctuaries. Add these natural settings to your list of must-see outdoor attractions right here in our own backyard.

Trexler Nature Preserve

With humble beginnings as a refuge for bison, elk, and white-tailed deer, the Trexler Nature Preserve now encompasses 18 trails for active outdoor adventures in mountain biking, hiking, walking, horseback riding, birdwatching, and observing other wildlife. The Jordan Creek offers fishing and picnic opportunities while the ADA trail accommodates those with disabilities. The Trexler Nature Preserve is a place anyone can enjoy.

Within the central range of the Trexler Nature Preserve is the Lehigh Valley Zoo, which is home to more than 275 animals spread across 70 species. Zoo admission directly pays for the food and care for these animals. 


Lehigh Gap Nature Center

At the foot of the Kittatinny Ridge, the Lehigh Gap Nature Center promotes conservation of local wildlife and habitats within the Lehigh River Watershed. The center’s mission encourages education, research, and outdoor leisure for all ages. The Lehigh Gap Nature Center comprises wetlands, ponds, forest, cliffs, slopes, and savanna. Be sure to check out the “green building,” the Osprey House, while taking in the sights of the 756-acre refuge. Many volunteer opportunities and special events make it easy to experience this wildlife sanctuary in your own way.


Wildlands Conservancy

The Lehigh Valley has no shortage of sanctuaries and nature preserves. Take the Wildlands Conservancy, for instance, which comprises nine different natural areas (although some locations require prior permission or scheduled visits).


Buehler Memorial Park

40 acres of protected woodlands offer study opportunities outside Emmaus; permission/appointments required.

Burkhart Preserve

34 acres of wooded trails are ideal for hiking and biking in Emmaus.

Dorothy Rider Pool Wildlife Sanctuary

77 acres with 7 trails and 2.6 miles of hiking in Emmaus offer active experiences. Responsible pet owners are also welcome.

Freemans Island

11+ acre wooded river island in Freemansburg features picturesque remnants of flooding such as loose silt and ravines.

HammondsKeeley Preserve

10 acres of riverfront and woodland ecosystems nurture nesting birds and evening owl flights in nearby Lackawanna County; access by River Road is not permanent.

Maple Tract Preserve

While not easy to access, Long Pond’s glacial wetlands are home to various plants and wildlife—such as snowshoe hare, beavers, and bears—amid 680 acres of forest, thickets, and marsh; a trail is in progress.

Reimert Memorial Bird Haven

11 acres of mature woodlands surround a two-mile walking trail flanked by Macungie Mountain, home to a diverse native bird habitat. Use off-street parking on Mountain Road in Macungie.

South Mountain Preserve

An impressive 350 acres of natural topography provides 9 different trails and 9 miles of hiking and single-use biking trails enjoyable to runners, responsible pet owners, bicyclists, and others seeking outdoor adventures.

Thomas Darling Preserve

Just north of Blakeslee within one of Pennsylvania’s largest spruce forests and glacial wetlands lie plentiful birdwatching, hiking, and hunting grounds. The vast 1,300 acres include trails as well as educational opportunities with the environment.

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hike Hawk Mountain for a chance to see stunning raptors like golden eagles, hawks, falcons, and other birds of prey. Mid-August through mid-December months provide ample opportunities to see hawks migrating, generally between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Modest trail fees support the conservation of raptors at this natural preserve.


Natural Lands Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary

Easton’s Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary boasts 200 acres of unpaved trail systems, particularly the River Lookout Trail that peers down on the Delaware Canal and the Delaware River below. Home to wildlife and bedecked with wildflowers, the sanctuary nurtures deer, red fox, eastern chipmunk, many species of birds, butterflies, turtles, and hummingbirds, to name a few. Sprawling views of the Delaware River create immortal memories of how we hope our natural surroundings will always be.


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