Photo credit: Jacob Kratz

Natural Lands announced the addition of just nearly 15 acres of land to Pennsylvania Game Lands in Haycock Township, Bucks County. The property includes Haycock Mountain, the highest point in the region, and is now forever protected from development.

“This land is just stunning,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands, the region’s oldest and largest land conservation organization. “In addition to everything this wooded property offers us all—flood control, cleaner drinking water, fresh air to breathe, and climate cooling power—it’s also just plain beautiful. I’m so thrilled we could ensure its permanent protection.”

Haycock Mountain is located on the property’s northern corner. The local landmark, with its two peaks separated by a saddle, rises 961 feet above sea level. The summit can be reached via Top Rock Trail, which winds up the wooded, rocky terrain. Hikers and boulder climbing enthusiasts have long used the trail, enjoying the challenging ascent marked by massive diabase outcrops. The transfer of land to the PA Game Commission means this popular hiking destination and its scenic views are now officially open to the public.

Photo credit: Jacob Kratz

“I’ve been coming up here from the city for about 50 years,” said Earl Ross, the former landowner. “My dad brought me here when he first bought the land. Then I brought my kids, and other neighborhood kids from the city that had never experienced anything like this. The boulders, the huge trees… it’s a pretty amazing place. I’m glad it will continue to be that way forever.”

The property is entirely forested and was an in-holding within the 2,011-acre State Game Lands No. 157. It is part of the Nockamixon-Haycock Conservation Landscape, the largest block of remaining forest in Bucks County. The property provides refuge for songbirds like Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush, and several species of warblers that spend winters in warmer climes but use large, connected forests in our region as their breeding grounds. Many of these migrant species have declined because the woods they rely on are disappearing or being subdivided. Forests that are fragmented into smaller plots by roads and developments favor predators that thrive along the edge of the woods, such as raccoons, snakes, Blue Jays, domestic cats, and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

“We are grateful for partners like Natural Lands that do the heavy lifting to help bring tracts like this to the Game Commission to conserve for wildlife and the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said Dave Gustafson, Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management director. “By adding this tract, we are able to better protect the integrity of the game lands and the habitat conservation efforts we are undertaking. Natural Lands continues to be an invaluable partner to the Game Commission’s conservation efforts, and we thank them for this.”

Natural Lands has added more than 500 acres of land to date to the PA Game Commission’s holdings.

The federal Highlands Conservation Act—a fund established to protect an almost unbroken band of forested hills running through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—provided funding for this preservation project. Additional support came from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnership Program.