Conservation Atlas Spotlight – Oley Hills

Pennsylvania Highlands Conservation Atlas Story Map Spotlight – Oley Hills

To access the full Oley Hills 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: Oley Hills

Shaping the character of the rural communities of eastern Berks County, we’ll be focusing on Oley Hills for out third installment of the PA Highlands Conservation Atlas spotlight. This region provides sweeping scenic vistas from the verdant Oley Valley as well as supplying remarkable water and forest resources.

Oley Hills Conservation Area within the PA Highlands
Oley Hills Conservation Area within the PA Highlands

Natural Resources: The Oley Hills is full of natural resources that help make it such a special place to visit or call home, including four state-designated Exceptional Value Streams – Pine, Oysterville, West Branch of the Perkiomen, and the West Branch of Pine Creeks. Not only are these streams important for their designations, they also provide habitat for false hop sedge, twisted yellow-eyed grass, and Virginia bunchflower – all of which are identified as plant Species of Special Concern by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. Protecting lands within the Oley Hills will further benefit these important streams and the species that call them home.

Currently, about 70 percent of the land within this conservation area is forested. This means it’s also home to other critical species, such as rock cap fern, maidenhair fern, log fern, swamp lousewort, and cranefly orchids.

Historical/Cultural Resources: Like much of this region, the historical background of Oley Hills dates back to the Lenapehoking (Lenni Lenape). The Lenni Lenape referred to the Oley Valley as the “Olink”, meaning hollow or kettle, suggesting the valley’s shape. By the 1700’s, however, this region was settled by early European immigrants. Today, the Oley Hills is known for the Pennsylvania Dutch agriculture and architectural styles found throughout.

A unique fact about Oley Hills is that it is just one of three other townships in the United States listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The stonework site in Oley Hills is also of significance. The complex snaking dry-stone walls, carefully shaped rock piles or cairns, perched boulders, and unusually shaped natural boulders found here are believed to have been built by indigenous people over 2,500 years ago. The exact purpose or who built them is unknown.

Recreational Resources: Gordan Park and State Game Lands 315 provide the Oley Hills conservation area with plentiful recreation opportunities from hiking and camping to bicycling and hunting.

Interactive Map:  Follow this link to explore the Oley Hills 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! Oley Hills (


Local Organizations: Be sure to check out some local organizations who work in Oley Hills!

Berks County Department of Agriculture 

Berks County Planning Commission 

Berks Nature 

District Township 

Pike Township 

Pine Creek Watershed 

Rockland Township 

Schuylkill Highlands