Todd Nature Reserve is gaining traction with hikers around Western Pennsylvania. Over 180 species of birds can be spotted along 5-miles of hiking trails. The nature reserve has been in operation since 1942, when noted ornithologist W.E. Clyde Todd, generously donated the land to the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania (ASWP). The first of three ASWP nature reserves, Todd Nature Reserve is the oldest reserve in Western Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest in the state.
As a young child, Todd studied the area’s bird life while visiting his grandparents nearby farmhouse. Eventually, Todd went on to become Curator of Birds at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Although the directions are posted on the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania’s website, finding the nature reserve for the first time can present a challenge. Look for a yellow gate and small parking lot on the right hand side of the road.
In recent years, a bear family has been sighted within the reserve. At the trailhead, you will find a sheet with instructions detailing how bear encounters should be handled.
Borrow one of the walking sticks at the trailhead, and descend the short flight of steps into the ravine (Ravine Trail). Immediately you will be struck with a sense of isolation as the hemlocks envelop around you. This effect was intensified during our visit by light snowfall.
Waterpoof hiking boots are a necessity for all of Todd’s trails, which are notoriously muddy. The trails are laden with rocks and fallen trees. Expect to climb over several!
Turn left and cross the bridge to reach the cabin and hiking trails. In warmer months, there is a trail register in the cabin.
We hiked the Loop Trail, a 2-mile loop that meanders through forest, stream, and pond. The longest trail in the reserve, it is also one of the most difficult. Be prepared to climb some steep hills, hop over fallen trees, and cross a small stream.
The deciduous forest was eerie as the snowfall turned to rain.
Odds are you’ll find evidence of the birds in residence.
As the trail winds past the meadow, mud becomes inevitable.
The trail’s pond is man-made.
Crossing the stream wasn’t much of a challenge.
After the Loop Trail, we continued on the Ravine Trail to Watson’s Run Falls. Watson’s Run is a tributary of the Buffalo Creek watershed.
The Ravine Trail’s reputation is based off of its water crossings, many of which require wading. Since the temperature was below freezing, we ended our hike without completing this trail. Despite it’s difficult rating, Ravine Trail is less than a mile long and comes to a dead end; although, there is an option to connect to Loop Trail.
If you are planning a visit to Todd Nature Reserve, please be aware that dogs and bicycles are not permitted.