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Places We Protect

Chrome Barrens

Pennsylvania

Misty view of an open field scattered with trees at varying stages of height and growth. A tree covered mountain rises in the distance.
Chrome Barrens Chrome Barrens of Pennsylvania, part of the largest Serpentine Barrens in the United States. © The Nature Conservancy

The Chrome Barrens are part of the largest occurrence of serpentine barrens in the eastern U.S.

Overview

Description

Chrome Barrens Preserve is made up of two, non-contiguous tracts—Upper and Lower Chrome. Upper Chrome is owned by Elk Township; TNC holds a management agreement on the Weaver Tracts on the east side of Barren Road. The smaller 63-acre Lower Chrome is owned by TNC. Chrome Barrens is part of the State Line Serpentine Barrens, the largest occurrence of serpentine barrens—extremely rare areas characterized by thin soil and bare, light green rock—in the eastern United States. 

Chrome Barrens was formerly known as the State Line Mining district due to the chromium, feldspar and magnesite mining that took place at various sites in the 19th century.  The sun-baked conditions on bare serpentine rock and gravel create desert-like habitat for rare and unusual plant species that are especially adapted to withstand heat and drought. Despite lacking nutrients, this habitat supports numerous species—many rare or endangered—that have adapted to the harsh environment over thousands of years.

Special thanks to Elk Township and the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens for their ongoing efforts and assistance in updating, maintaining and managing this site.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Dogs are not allowed at this preserve.

Hours

Dawn to dusk

Highlights

Contact the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens for information about workdays and guided hikes, 717-352-7936.

Size

340 acres

Explore our work in Pennsylvania

Visit

  • What to Expect

    There is one parking lot at Chrome Barrens but no restroom facilities. Hiking these trails can be strenuous if unaccustomed to varied terrain and uneven walking surfaces. 

    Be prepared for ticks and other biting and stinging insects during warmer months. Bring plenty of drinking water, as temperatures in the barrens can be as much as 10-15 degrees hotter than the surrounding forests.

  • What to See: Plants and Animals

    Chrome Barrens is a wonderful place to visit any time of the year.  In the spring, catch glimpses of migrant birds and wildflowers. Late summer marks the peak of butterfly season. The fall offers colorful foliage. 

    The serpentine aster, one of the many rare plants found at Chrome, lives on the serpentine barrens in Pennsylvania and Maryland. It can be found nowhere else in the world. Its nearly leafless red-colored flower stalks and ground-hugging rosette help it to withstand heat and drought. The round-leaved fameflower grows on isolated rock exposures scattered across the southeastern United States. Like a cactus, it is a true succulent, tolerating heat and drought by storing water in stems and pads.

    Chrome is also home to about 15 species of butterflies and moths, plus various birds such as whip-poor-wills, bobwhite quail and several species of owl. 

  • Community Science: iNaturalist

    We are creating a science database of all kinds of life—from lichens to ants, mushrooms to plants, birds to mammals and everything in between for our preserves in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

    TNC's roots began with local citizens and scientists concerned about special places and species. That legacy continues today. Across our lands, we are utilizing iNaturalist—a digital platform that gives users an opportunity to share and discuss their findings.

    Of the 14 preserve projects in iNaturalist, 9 have observations recorded; help us increase that number and our understanding of the species—good and bad, native as well as invasive—that can be found on TNC lands across the state. This information can also help guide and inform our conservation staff's management and monitoring decisions.

  • Preserve Guidelines

    When visiting Chrome Barrens Preserve please DO:

    • Take precautions against ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers and sunburn.
    • Wear sturdy footwear.
    • Pants are recommended, even during warmer months, when ticks are active and poison ivy is present.
    • Apply insect repellent and sun protection.
    • Bring drinking water.
    • Stay on marked trails.
    • Remove all litter. This is a “carry-in, carry-out” preserve. Please take your trash with you.
    • Enjoy nature!

    Please DO NOT:

    • Feed or disturb wildlife.
    • No trapping or removing any other artifacts from the preserve.
    • Bring motorized vehicles, ATVs, bikes or horses.
    • Bring alcohol or firearms.
    • Camp (NO fires allowed!).

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Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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