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Chester County Press

Public invited to opening of walking trails in Serpentine Barrens

09/04/2013 01:50PM ● By Acl

The community is invited to the opening of a new trail system in Chester County’s State Line Serpentine Barrens region on Sept. 8 at 1 p.m., hosted by the non-profit group Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens (FSLSB).

The new trails access the “Chrome Barrens,” a desert-like ecosystem that is host to rare plants and flowers. The opening ceremony will be followed by a reception with refreshments at the trail head parking area on Barren Road, just south of Media Road, three miles south of Oxford.

“We welcome everyone to learn about and enjoy this ecological treasure in our area,” said Henry Whitesel, FSLSB president.

The Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens worked with Elk Township, the Nature Conservancy and 10-member AmeriCorps team on the barrens restoration and trail creation initiative. A new 1.5 mile trail was created by Elk Township, and newly relocated loop trails provide better access to the serpentine habitat.

“The trails open these beautiful woods and meadows to the families of our area. This is public green space that will be preserved for the enjoyment of all future generations.” said Elk Township Commissioner Pal Durborow.

FSLSB representatives will provide trail directions, information about upcoming guided hikes and opportunities to help preserve the grasslands and trails at the Sept. 8 event. Naturalists and geologists familiar with the unique plant community and serpentine geology of the area will be attending.

The FSLSB is a non-profit, grassroots organization of dedicated volunteers who support the State Line Serpentine Barrens through preservation and maintenance of the serpentine grasslands, preservation of historical documents, and education about this resource. For more information, visit

The Chrome Barrens are approximately 200 acres in size and are owned by Elk Township and The Nature Conservancy. They are open to the public and contain many hiking trails. Located along a 20-mile stretch of the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, the State Line Serpentine Barrens contains some of the last major remnants of serpentine grassland and savanna in eastern North America. In stark contrast to the surrounding forest and wildflower filled meadows, the sun-baked conditions on bare serpentine rock and surrounding inhospitable soils create a desert-like habitat to which only certain plant species, including some rare and endangered, have adapted. 

Preservation efforts are under way at a several additional sites in Southern Lancaster and Chester Counties in Pennsylvania and Cecil County in Maryland. The two sites open to the public are

Nottingham County Park and Goat Hill Public Wild Plant Sanctuary.