Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:2 Mark Bird Lane, Elverson, PA
Hours:Grounds and historical buildings open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from June through August, and Wednesday through Sunday, September through May; orchard open September and October, varying days; in May and September, buildings may be open additional days; call ahead
Fee: Free

nps.gov/hofu, 610-582-8773

Bathrooms: Outside the park office
Water/Snacks: Water fountain outside the park office; snack vending machine inside the office

nps.gov/hofu (click on Plan Your Visit)

Experience a vanished way of life at a restored iron-making village in a huge forested park.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
Photo by: Susan Charkes

Southeastern Pennsylvania looks the way it does today in large part because of the iron forges of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Iron making affected where people lived, where roads were laid out, where dams and towns were built. Hopewell Furnace, a restored iron-making plantation (village), re-creates the life of an iron-making community, including a charcoal furnace, a mammoth waterwheel, and a livestock farm. Set in a lovely 848-acre park, with many walking trails, the site is a great place for families to enjoy the outdoors and experience history at the same time.

Begin at the visitor center next to the main parking lot, where you can pick up a guide to the site, view exhibits, and watch a short film. A paved path leads downhill to the village below. You can take a self-guided tour of the site, and enter the restored buildings whenever the park is open. Throughout the year, visitors can attend special events such as sheepshearing; check the website for a schedule. In September and October, you can pick apples in the orchard.

The wide, gravel village paths are suitable for children of all ages (though not stroller-friendly). In addition, 12 miles of dirt trails suitable for schoolage children lead through the site, connecting to trails in several adjacent parks and preserves that make up a huge forested area called the Hopewell Big Woods. These footpaths explore woods and follow small streams. You can walk a short section of the yellow-blazed, long-distance Horse-Shoe Trail by following the main village path south to PA 345, where the Horse-Shoe Trail follows Green Lane to Harmonyville Road. For longer woods hikes, take the Horse-Shoe Trail in the opposite direction, starting near the Charcoal Pits; it’s about 0.25 mile to French Creek State Park, where you can connect to trails (some un-blazed) that follow the tree-lined shores of Hopewell Lake, or to the moderately difficult blue-blazed Boone Trail. Another option is to follow the green-blazed Lenape Trail along Hopewell Road, across PA 345, and to the Baptism Creek Trail, which passes by the historical Bethesda Church and connects to the Hopewell Trail in the quiet, forested Crow’s Nest Preserve.

Remember: Pets are allowed in all outdoor areas of the park open to the public.

Plan B:

French Creek State Park is adjacent to the site, offering hiking and biking trails, playgrounds, a lake for boating and fishing, and numerous campsites.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Bring a picnic to enjoy in the picnic area next to the parking lot, or in the apple orchard.


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