Open to the Public
Why You Should Visit
Goat Hill 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. Even the most casual visitor to the Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens will notice the striking difference between the serpentine communities and the surrounding deciduous forests. You can literally step from one plant community to another and find very few species common to both areas.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Botanists believe that Goat Hill contains the greatest diversity of plant species of all the Chester County barrens sites. Goat Hill was once mined for its magnetite and chromium. In 1979, neighbors of the barrens learned that an excavating company was interested in quarrying the serpentine rock. They organized to form the "Concerned Citizens of West Nottingham Township" and opposed not only the quarry, but all further damage to the barrens wilderness surrounding it.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Because of these efforts by local citizens, a large portion of this unique example of our natural heritage now belongs to the Bureau of Forestry and The Nature Conservancy.
What to See: Plants
Among the rare plants found at Goat Hill are the long-hairy barrens chickweed, the serpentine aster, prairie dropseed, and round-leaved fameflower. Goat Hill also hosts a diverse fern community, including marginal shield, hay scented, Christmas, interrupted and maidenhair. In addition, a wide variety of southern plants all reach their northernmost extremes here.
What to See: Animals
Vast acres of wildflower meadows, cliff outcroppings and pitch pine forests are prime habitat for the many rare species of moths and butterflies found here, including the cobweb skipper, barrens buckmoth, and mottled duskywing. An unusual assemblage of birds nest at Goat Hill, including the declining whippoorwill, the bobwhite quail and barred owl, along with seventeen species of warblers.
Visit the Goat Hill Barrens to pursue a variety of nature-based and recreational activities.
Although accessible for all to visit from February through September, the Nature Conservancy’s Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens preserve is closed to the public from October through January, with the exception of the Rose Trail. This trail traverses a portion of the Nature Conservancy preserve, as well as the adjacent, publicly-accessible Goat Hill Barrens area of William Penn State Forest. Click here to download a brochure that explains the history of this natural area, and includes a map showing the Rose Trail and the state forest boundary. If you will be on the trail during hunting season, please wear blaze orange or other high-visibility clothing, as the William Penn State Forest is open to public hunting at this time. Should you have additional questions about accessibility, please call our office at 717-232-6001.
If you would like to lend a hand at this site or another Pennsylvania preserve, check out our volunteer workdays for currently scheduled activities.
Contact information for the Goat Hill Barrens at the William Penn State Forest:
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
Bureau of Forestry
Valley Forge State Forest
845 Park Road
From U.S. Route 1 south: