Valley Forge National Historical Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA
Hours:Grounds open 7 a.m. to dusk; visitor center open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fee: Free
Contact:
Bathrooms: At visitor center (when open), main parking lot, and Washington’s Headquarters; portable toilets at northside (Betzwood) parking area
Water/Snacks: Water fountain in visitor center (when open)
Map:

At visitor center; nps.gov/vafo (click on Plan Your Visit)


Experience history outdoors in this huge park with hike and bike trails.

Valley Forge National Historical Park
Photo by: Wally G.

Valley Forge National Historical Park, with its wide variety of popular hiking and biking trails, is a great place for kids. While it can be enjoyed for its natural beauty alone, its history gives the experience a special charge.

The park commemorates the harsh winter encampment of 1776-77 that transformed George Washington’s ragtag soldiers into a disciplined fighting force. The visitor center has excellent exhibits that describe this turning point of the American Revolution. More exhibits are at Washington’s Headquarters and in re-created soldiers’ huts. The park also offers guided walking tours, a cell phone tour, and occasional re-created encampments.

Valley Forge has a diverse landscape on both sides of the Schuylkill River. South of the visitor center the park spreads over hilltop grassy fields. Closer to the river the terrain is more steep and wooded. Two high hills, Mount Misery and Mount Joy, flank Valley Creek between the Covered Bridge and the river. North of the river is a level, forested floodplain. More than 28 miles of trails, 19.5 of which are designated for hiking, traverse the park. The 1.5-mile Valley Creek Trail, with an easy, flat, gravel surface good for hiking or biking, runs along the tree-shaded creek; pick it up across PA 23 from Washington’s Headquarters and continue to the Covered Bridge. The trail connects at both ends to trails over Mount Misery that, while rocky and steep in parts, are suitable for kids used to hiking. Across PA 252 are similar trails that go over Mount Joy. On the north side (Betzwood trailhead), the 3-mile, level, gravel-surface River Trail, open to hiking and biking, parallels the Schuylkill under huge old trees, ending at the Pawlings Road trailhead.

Bicycles can be rented at the visitor center parking lot, and 21 miles of trail are open to bikes. The paved Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, reached from the visitor center, has a 5-mile loop that parallels roads and drives, offering a good way to see the park’s historic sites. The path has some hills but they are not steep.

Valley Creek is trout-stocked; many good fishing spots are along its wide banks south of the Covered Bridge (catch-and-release only). For paddlers with experience, a tranquil 3-mile stretch of the Schuylkill River can be accessed from boat launches at Betzwood and Pawlings.

Remember: Dogs must be leashed. Fishing is not permitted in Valley Creek south of PA 23.

Plan B:

At the Pawlings Road trailhead, gain access to the multiuse, 21-mile Perkiomen Trail or Schuylkill River Trail.

Where to Eat Nearby:

King of Prussia Mall is close by (take US 422 East).



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