Happy Trails

Wonder and wildlife sculpted Awbury’s historic trails

Sledding at Cope Estate, 1895. Photo credit: Awbury Arboretum

Awbury Arboretum was donated by the Cope Family in 1916 to be preserved green space free for the public. The Cope family felt their home and the landscape surrounding it should remain open as an Arboretum for the “quiet enjoyment of nature” and for educational purposes. If you are wondering what to do on the grounds in the winter, it helps to reflect on the family’s time here.

During the late 1800s, time in nature was a part of the Cope family’s everyday life. Some of their activities in the winter included birdwatching, taking trails to the train, walking with family members, and even sledding down the rolling hills. The family’s use of the land for those activities resulted in a series of both planned and unintentional paths, which are the same paths that act as the basis for accessing and enjoying the landscape today.

Some trails which formed unintentionally were from children and family members following daily routes to neighboring houses, the train, or favorite parts of the landscape. Trails were even influenced by deer passages like the more recent path linking the three areas of the AdventureWoods Nature Playground in the Secret Garden. Today these pathways, loops, and trails throughout the historic landscape add up to three miles.

In order to ease visitor experience, Awbury is preparing to place temporary test signage throughout the landscape starting in late winter.

We welcome everyone to navigate the fifty-five acres using these provisional signs and to help make sure these paths continue to serve our community’s access to nature as the Cope Family intended.

About Awbury

Awbury Arboretum (the former Cope family estate) transports visitors from city streets into a country retreat that is the largest remaining oasis of open space in Germantown. Trails weave through 55 acres landscaped in the English romantic style, with open meadows, ponds, woods and rolling hills. The Copes lent their
Quaker sense of aesthetics to this world-class arboretum; in 1870, they hired William Saunders, designer of the Capitol grounds in Washington, D.C., to bring their vision to fruition. Today, Awbury’s mission is to preserve and interpret their historic house and landscape, in order to connect the community with nature and history. Awbury is free and open to the public every day (dawn til dusk). More info at www.awbury.org.

About Karen Flick 10 Articles
Karen is Awbury's Landscape Manager. She is a former intern at the arboretum and a Temple University graduate with degrees in psychology and horticulture.

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