The McKaig Nature Center, A Wooded Oasis In The Middle Of Montgomery County

The McKaig Nature Center, A Wooded Oasis In The Middle Of Montgomery County

McKaig Nature Center (7 of 50)
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Last Friday I was  in Montgomery County for the  annual meeting of  a trust I serve on.   I was staying overnight in King of Prussia  to visit my niece Cassidy.  After my meeting I was looking for a place to hike  in the area.  My research led me to  the McKaig Nature Center  a small nature preserve located in the middle of  a highly congested residential Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County. This 91 acre tract of  woodland is located on King of Prussia Road.

I parked at the southeast entrance located on Brower Road  and began my hike on the Cadet Trail. It was an overcast,  cool and dreary February day as I followed the trail down to the McKaig Creek.  The woodlands were mostly oak, beech and tulip trees. The trees were bare now and it was bleak and  lifeless, as it is everywhere in our long northern Pennsylvanian Winters.

The nature preserve was  donated by  the McKaig family, descendants of the original  settlers on the property in 1704, the French family. It was a peaceful and quiet hike under some  ancient  oak,  beech,

and towering tulip tree

The trail took me down to  a rock formation know as the “monkey rocks”.

The name comes from the monkey faces some people see in the rocks, but I looked and didn’t see them.

The trail crossed  a wooden bridge  over McKaig Creek,

and followed the creek up a ridge. There was no bird activity or other wildlife on the trail on the cool February afternoon, although I  did hear Canada geese honking in the distance.   I later learned they were on a nearby pond.

There were large patches of Christmas ferns and a few scattered intermediate wood ferns adding some green color to the otherwise drab Winter scenery.


And  some more green colors, signs of the approaching Spring were seen ,  a few lesser celandine and

water forget-me-nots in the creek,

 and large arears of Japanese pachysandra or carpet box were growing along the trail.. All of these are invasive species. 

The Cadet  Trail intersected with the Laurel and Petty Trails after about a 1/2 mile, where the  Wayne Woods Creek flowed into the McKaig  Creek. It was a little muddy on this part of the trail.

I continued my hike upward  on the Cadet Trail,

 finding more beach trees mixed in with the oak and tulip trees.

The trail took me past ruins of an an old stone structure, it looked like an  old chimney.  I am  trying to research  what it was.

After about another 1/4 mile the trail   ended at the trailhead on busy Croton Road.

Here I saw another sure sign of Spring, snow drop flowers just about to bloom. It was now late afternoon and there were a lot of folks walking there dogs  on the trail.

I walked back down the Cadet  Trail and decided to hike back on the Petty Trail.

This trail took me up another ridge where there were some fir  trees mixed in with the oak, beech and tulip trees.

And were there are fir trees there are  cones.

Some of the trees were dead and here I finally saw some bird activity. There were quite a few pileated woodpeckers rapping on the trunks of the trees overhead,

I love seeing this large woodpeckers on my hikes. . There were also  downy , hairy  and red-bellied woodpeckers in the treetops  but  I didn’t have time to wait and try and get photos. It  was getting late in the afternoon and I had to get back to my hotel. I was meeting  my niece for diner a 6 p.m.  I only was able to get a photo of a hairy woodpecker.

I did see one more critter  on my hike , a gray squirrel who watched me walk past.

There were also some old mushrooms growing along the trail, these were puffballs,

and this an old  chicken of the woods mushroom.

I walked briskly up the Petty Trail which took me to  to the backyards of some beautiful homes. This would  be where I would want to live if I had to live in Montgomery County.

There were a lot more folks walking there dogs as I  approached the Southwest  entrance on Brower Street. I hiked  down the Old Wood Trail which took me back to the Cadet Trail.

I decided to walk up the Laurel Trail,

where I, of course, I found  mountain laurel growing along the trail.

I was still walking quickly  since it was after 5 p.m. now. I walked back to the Cadet Trail near the “monkey rocks” and finished my quick, but enjoyable three mile   hike on this hidden,  wonderful trail.  I recommend it to anyone living in, or visiting the area. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos  from my three mile hike in the hidden woods in Montgomery County. McKaig Nature Preserve,February 23 2024.

I drove back to my hotel,  the Courtyard by Marriot, in King of Prussia,  quickly changed,  showered and drove to the Forever Chinese restaurant where I met my niece Cassidy. We enjoyed a delicious meal and wonderful conversation restaurant. I had  the traditional whole fish with black bean sauce. It was a nice evening and a great way to end a busy and productive day. I was back in my room and in bed early, looking forward to exploring more of southeastern Pennsylvania in the morning. 

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.
~John Muir


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