Conservation Atlas Spotlight – Hopewell Big Woods

Pennsylvania Highlands Conservation Atlas Story Map Spotlight – Hopewell Big Woods

To access the full Story Map, click HERE.

The AMC Mid-Atlantic office has updated and expanded the 2006 PA Highlands Conservation Atlas into 12 interactive Story Maps which include updated conserved lands, conservation areas, and historic and recreational resources, such as the PA Highlands Trail.

This atlas was developed to build awareness about the importance of the Pennsylvania Highlands region by portraying the special places and resources found there. It is also a call for action to help protect this incredible and threatened region.


Conservation Area: Hopewell Big Woods 

Located in the heart of the Pennsylvania Highlands, our next conservation area spotlight is Hopewell Big Woods. This resource-rich region encompasses roughly 71,000 acres, with 66 square miles of forest. Due to this conservation areas high quality waters, rich cultural and historical resources, and significant recreational opportunities, we find many critical treasures throughout Hopewell Big Woods.

Natural Resources: There are nine state-designated Exceptional Value streams that flow through Hopewell Big Woods, such as Hays Creek, which provides clean drinking water to the residents of Birdsboro Borough. These streams are significant in supporting reproducing native brook trout as well as a variety of wetlands.

Hopewell Big Woods conservation area consists of rocky terrain and unique wetlands that provide habitat for dozens of plants and animals, including the bog turtle – a federally threatened species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Endangered Species List. Also found here are bog bluegrass, a globally vulnerable plant species that is also endangered in Pennsylvania.

Due to these diverse and special natural resources, the Pennsylvania Biological Survey has designated the Hopewell Big Woods as an Important Mammal Area.

Historical/Cultural Resources: Hopewell Big Woods is not only home to diverse and abundant wildlife – numerous iron furnaces, forges, and mills are located here, too! Coventry Forge, the first forge in Chester County and second in Pennsylvania, once had a large community built around it. Today, it’s known as the Coventryville Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other sites within this conservation area that interpret the history of the iron-making industry include Joanna Furnace and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.

Recreational Resources: Hopewell Furnace is surrounded by French Creek State Park, which provides outdoor recreation and tourism. The Thun Trail, Horse-Shoe Trail, State Gamelands No. 43, and Warwick County Park offer recreation opportunities such as fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and canoeing/kayaking.

Interactive Map:  Follow this link to explore the Hopewell Big Woods conservation area through an interactive map that shows climbing sites, critical treasures, fishing and boating access, park and recreation areas, cultural resources, Audubon Important Bird Areas, and more! Hopewell Big Woods (


Local Organizations:

Follow the links below to learn more about some organizations in the region that focus on conservation and land protection.

French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust 

Green Valleys Watershed Association 

Hay Creek Watershed Association 

Natural Lands 

Schuylkill Highlands