Piper visits Newlin Grist Mill

Regal Piper Pup

As you might expect, Piper’s arrival has had a big impact on our daily routine.  Matt and I are waking up earlier on work days, stopping home 2-3 times to let her out during the day, and (still!) taking turns setting an alarm for a middle-of-the-night potty break.  We are also making sure to do at least one mentally and/or physically stimulating activity with Piper every day to tire her out.  On weekdays it’s practically dark when we get home from work which limits us to activities around the house like wobble-disc practice in the kitchen or epic games of fetch in the back yard. (Fetch is, of course, frequently interrupted when Piper gets distracted and tries to eat deer poop, but I digress!)  Weekends, however, are a whole different story… daylight means that we can go hiking!

Hike hike hike

Since Piper is still very young, meandering hikes in the woods are a great way to tire her out without causing too much stress on her joints.  To keep things interesting, we’ve been visiting a different local park or trail each weekend.  This has been a fun way to re-explore some of our old favorite hiking spots that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while.  One such local gem is Newlin Grist Mill.

Newlin Grist Mill is a 160 acre park and historical site in Glen Mills, PA.  You can read more about the park’s history, working grist mill and educational programs on their web site.  I’m sure that all of that historical stuff is cool (convincing plug, right?) but WE visit the park for its miles of secluded nature trails that wind along an abandoned rail line and a beautiful stream.  Here are some photos from our hike a few weekends ago…

Newlin Grist Mill’s trails are well maintained and clearly marked, but I have not been able to find an actual detailed trail map of the park.  There’s a basic map at the parking lot showing park boundaries and general right-of-ways, but it’s missing most of the side trails that we actually hiked on.  Luckily, the park is relatively small and most of the major trails tend to be oriented east-west along the old rail line and stream.  This makes it hard to get lost and fun to explore… perfect for hiking with a 10-week-old puppy!

Oh Hi!

If you’re in the western Philadelphia suburbs and are looking for a low-key, relaxed hike with lots of stream views and history, I’d definitely recommend spending an afternoon at Newlin Grist Mill!

Newlin Grist Mill
219 South Cheyney Road
Glen Mills, PA 19342  (map)
www.newlingristmill.org

The Darlington Trail (Middletown Trails)

As the weather gets cooler I find myself getting the urge to go hiking in the woods with Matt and Bailey.  We took a nice 2 mile walk at Okehocking Preserve last week but, since that’s already been featured on my blog, I thought I’d write about another one of our favorite hiking spots: Darlington Trail in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.

The Darlington Trail is part of the wonderful “Middletown Trails” network that is owned and maintained by Middletown Township.  You can view a map showing the rough location of each of the six trails in my Linvill Trail post from last March.

One of my favorite parts about the Darlington Trail is that it crisscrosses an old rail line.  These tracks used to carry passenger trains from Media to West Chester (an extension of the current-day Septa R3 Media/Elwyn line) but now they are only used by the occasional freight train traveling at night towards Philadelphia from a nearby quarry.  We’ve never seen a train on this stretch of tracks during the daytime so we always feel very safe walking along (or on!) the tracks.

The train tracks cross high over the Chester Creek in two spots.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk across the rail bridges on foot because the space between each of the railroad cross ties is completely open to the creek 30 or so feet below.  Seeing the water rush by below your feet is pretty disconcerting when you are standing on a bridge that’s only a couple of feet wide with no handrails or guardrails!

The first time we hiked the Darlington Trail we were exploring the tracks and somehow ended up on the wrong side of one of the bridges.  Bailey definitely would have fallen right through the holes between the ties if we had tried to walk on the bridge so Matt concluded that the only way to get her to the other side was to carry her.  Luckily she was very calm and stayed perfectly still while Matt tiptoed from tie to tie across the bridge!  (Note: you do not have to cross the bridges in order to hike the trail!)

The bridge doesn’t look very intimidating from here, but when you get closer and realize that there’s nothing but air between the rail ties it might make you feel a bit unnerved when walking over it!

The terrain is quite varied on the Darlington Trail.  At some points you snake along the wide bank of Chester Creek (great for dogs who like the water!) and in other spots you hike through rolling farmlands and are rewarded with a great view of the surrounding area and the trail as it continues on in the distance.

According to the trail map, the entire loop is about 2.75 miles long.  The trail is well maintained and is clearly marked with yellow diamond-shaped trail signs.  We usually park in the lot located on Darlington Road just north of the road’s intersection with Route 1 / Baltimore Pike in Glen Mills, PA.  You can also park near the original Wawa dairy (yes, THE Wawa!) on Valley Road just north of Route 1.

If you live in the Delaware County/Chester County area and ever decide to hike the Darlington Trail I would love to hear what you think of it!  Do you have a favorite section of trail (or does your dog have a favorite section of the creek?)  🙂  Please share!