P'unk Ave

Spring Mill Road Preserve

Riverbend’s 30-acre preserve in Gladwyne, PA is an island of green surrounded by a bustling, densely populated suburban community not far from Philadelphia.

Located at the very end of Spring Mill Road, Riverbend's site is a mutli-faceted gem. The preserve is named for the bend in the Schuylkill River which defines the preserve's farthest border. Welcoming visitors near the entrance is a lovely tributary known as Saw Mill Run, a creek that entices young explorers and provides a refreshing respite during the hot summer months. Dotting Saw Mill Run is metamorphised schist, consisting of gneiss stones and boulders. Steep topography throughout Riverbend add to the site’s beauty. Its diverse habitat includes meadow, woodland and ponds inviting a wide range of nature study and exploration.

Open to the public daily from dawn to dusk, Riverbend invites visitors to walk the trails and explore the grounds. An important function of the preserve is its use as an outdoor classroom for a wide range of on-site education programs. For a self-directed tour, you may wish to print Riverbend's trail map. For guided programming, contact Riverbend at 610-527-3367. 

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Amenities

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Snider Barn

The iconic 1923 Sears Roebuck Catalog barn building serves as the hub of Riverbend’s operations. Its public spaces host educational programs and include a small animal collection, a children’s library and rest rooms.

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Aquaponics Greenhouse

An addition to the Snider Barn in 2015, this educational lab supports nature-based STEM and sustainable agiculture programs.

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Charles Lieberman Outdoor Classroom  

A popular destination for education programs and community events, the area features tiered seating and a covered outdoor learning area overlooking the Alec Williamson Bird Observation Area.

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Nick & Dee Adams Pavilion

Set near the top of our 30-acre preserve, Riverbend’s 400-square-foot pavilion features scenic views and eco-friendly elements including solar panels, a composting toilet and a surrounding native plant garden.

The pavilion provides valuable program space where Riverbend campers and school children fill water bottles and have a sheltered space for activities, protected from weather elements. New learning opportunities and an enhanced visitor experience, including pavilion use for family and signature events are other benefits.

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Stone Story Circle 

This area features large native boulders set into the hillside surrounding a large fire pit and views of the valley.

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Farmhouse

Built between the Revolutionary War and Civil War, this original tenant cottage is being restored for programmatic use and housing for an on-site caretaker.

Explore Natural Areas


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Before & After Shot of the Woodland Restoration Area

Woodland Restoration

How can we ensure our native SE PA animal species have the food and shelter they evolved to depend on? We can restore our native habitat. Over many years, Riverbend's preserve was degraded by white-tailed deer feasting on plant habitat. This encouraged a blanket of exotic species to proliferate. In late 2008, Riverbend installed a deer exclosure fence and began to carry out an extensive woodland restoration project using TreeVitalize funding and hundreds of volunteers each year.  Since 2008, more than 5,000 native species have been planted on Riverbend's site. A Riparian Forest Buffer Zone adjacent to Saw Mill Run is the focus of our ecological watershed restoration efforts. The buffer helps Riverbend reduce erosion and pollution in respect to the stream; it improves the ecology of the site and provides a demonstration area to explore successful integrated pest management strategies in a controlled location. 

Each year Riverbend selects a new area of the property that is dominated by invasive vines to be replaced by native trees and shrubs as well as herbaceous plants. 

Alec Williamson Bird Observation Area

Tucked into an area near the Snider Barn, the Alec Williamson Bird Observation Area is a garden-like sanctuary of more than 120 native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants and a pond. It was designed to provide ample food, shelter and water for birds. With meandering trails and logs for resting, it is nice spot for bird watching and quiet reflection. For school and camp education programs, it is a popular hub of activity.

Did you know Riverbend is a birding hot spot, with 107 species reported to date on e-bird? This is four times the number reported prior to our habitat restoration efforts!

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American Chestnut Grove

Established in 2016, guided by the American Chestnut Foundation, Riverbend plays an active role in the restoration of the American chestnut tree. The American chestnut (Castanea dentate) is a large, monecious deciduous tree of the beech family. It is native to eastern North America and was once considered by many to be the most important species in the forests of the Eastern United States. In the early 1900s, a fungal blight caused the rapid, widespread destruction of an estimated four billion American chestnut trees. By 1940, most mature American chestnut trees had been wiped out.

The main approach to restoration is introducing genes for resistance to the fungus. This is accomplished by crossbreeding and backcrossing American chestnuts with the resistant Chinese species (Castenea mollissima) to produce a tree that is 15/16ths American. 

Through this method, the American Chestnut Foundation has a created what is known as the restoration chestnut tree (B3F3).  Growing new trees from the seeds of specimens that survived the epidemic is another element of the restoration process, important because it keeps the genetic stock of native trees alive for future research.

Both blight-resistant American chestnut trees and restoration chestnut trees have been planted on site.