Hiking and History at French Creek State Park
August 14, 2013

French Creek State Park is one of my favorite local hiking destinations. I hiked and played disc golf there often as a teenager, and I now enjoy taking my children to hike there as well. The park spans more than 7,500 acres and lies in both Chester and Berks Counties. French Creek State Park is also home to two lakes: Hopewell Lake and Scotts Run Lake.

Recreational activities at French Creek State Park include hiking, fishing, boating (there are boat rentals available on both lakes) disc golf, swimming, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The park’s swimming pool is located off the shore of Hopewell Lake and is staffed by certified lifeguards. Camping at French Creek State Park is available year round and a wide variety of camping options are offered. You can choose to stay in a camping cottage, a yurt, a cabin, or you can rough it in your own tent.

There are 35 miles of trails to choose from for hiking at French Creek State Park. Most offer fairly challenging portions and trails range from 1 mile to 8 miles long and often intersect, giving you plenty of options to create the perfect route for your family. Given the terrain, though, these trails are most appropriate for grade-school-aged children and preteens who are experienced hikers. Younger children should stay on the flat paths around the lakes and picnic areas.

Next to Hopewell Lake is Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site, which features a restored cold-blast furnace, complete with bellows. From 1771 to 1883 Hopewell Furnace produced iron cannon, shot, and shells used during the Revolutionary War. If you stop to visit this historical site, you will see an anthracite furnace, a water wheel, a blacksmith shop, and more. The barn houses two very friendly horses to pet and chickens run freely through the grounds. Hopewell Furnace runs daily demonstrations and living history programs from June through August and opens its apple orchard for public picking in September and December.

Plan to take a picnic meal with you, as there are limited places to eat in the area. For more information about French Creek State Park, go to www.PAparks.com To learn more about Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site or the upcoming events, check out www.nps.gov/hof

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