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1.26.2020

Hiking at Butler County's Todd Nature Reserve of the Audobon Society of Western PA

We recently had the chance to check out the Todd Nature Reserve of the Audobon Society of Western Pennsylvania, in Buffalo Township near Sarver and Freeport in Butler County. It is a wonderful place to do some hiking. There are 6 miles of trails spread out over the 334 acre property, which has a beautifully varied landscape. Small, hemlock and rhododendron filled gorges contain three streams with little cascades throughout. There is a small pond with a bench to sit and reflect. In the middle of the property, there is a mini rock city, with large boulders and small caves. Fallen tree limbs and rocks are covered with bright green moss and ferns. 
The care taken to preserve the natural integrity of this property has ensured that it remains a great habitat for bird species.
W. E. Clyde Todd was a pioneering ornithologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and held the position of Curator of Birds at the museum from 1899 to 1945 and then was Curator Emeritus until he died in 1969. This property was owned by his grandfather and operated as a farm. In 1942, Mr. Todd approached the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania with an offer of the land to be preserved as a nature sanctuary. As a child, Mr. Todd gained an appreciation for birding off of his grandfather's farm and wanted to ensure that this could be achieved for future generations as well.
A typical scene within the small gorges at the reserve. Beautiful hemlocks fill the gorges.
This is one of the many bucolic spots throughout the reserve. The wooden footbridge leads to a deck from an old cottage where information is posted, and a nice table and chairs are set up to relax, possibly have a picnic lunch, and just take in the sounds of the babbling creek and the birds. 
The concrete walls of the cottage remain, though the rest seems to have gone away with the passage of time. A lovely covered wooden deck remains off of what was the front of the cottage.
Looking back down towards the footbridge. The other trail crossings of the creek go right through the creek.
The hillsides are filled with lovely second growth hemlocks.
The trails are all marked nicely at intersection and termini.
I love the designs that Mother Nature makes when water freezes.
The pond is just lovely. In the summer you will certainly see and hear frogs, see salamanders, and lots of birds in this spot. In this time of the year, it is just lovely with how quiet and serene it is. It had just a light layer of ice on it, and fog was hanging out near the surface.
Scenes like this are one reason why I actually prefer hiking in the winter. Even with no snow on the ground in this location on this day, the green moss, ferns, and conifers make a lovely contrast to the brown leaves on the ground. There is also nothing quite as invigorating as hiking in the crisp air.
Now we are approaching Polypody Rocks. This little rock city is just awesome.
I love the green contrast of moss in the winter.
Polypody Rocks. 


I would rate the trails from easy to moderate. All of the trails are rigorous enough (with elevation change) that they would not be handicap accessible. Most of the trails are gentle enough to hike with small children. I rate the Ravine Trail with its in creek crossings, and the Polypody Trail, which has a decent amount of elevation change through a small rock city as moderate hikes.

Overall, this is a fantastic place for some short hikes and taking in nature.

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