Marsh Creek State Park
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Philadelphia (AMC Books)
Address:675 Park Road, Downingtown, PA
Hours:Park open sunrise to sunset daily (fishing/boating permitted 24 hours)
Fee: Ground free; fee charged for pool and boat rental
Contact:, 610-458-5119; boat rental:, 610-458-5040; horseback riding:


Bathrooms: At boat launch parking lots and pool lot
Water/Snacks: Snack bar (seasonal) at boat rental
Map: (click on Find a Park)

A large lake is great for paddling and fishing, and is surrounded by rolling hills with easy hiking paths.

Marsh Creek State Park
Photo by: Susan Charkes

Tucked into populous north–central Chester County, Marsh Creek State Park is a beautiful forested gem that spreads over 1,727 acres, including a 535-acre lake that offers great family boating and fishing, and hiking and biking trails in the surrounding fields and woods.

The lake is superb for families to build their boating expertise. The wide lake can get quite breezy, which is ideal for learning to sail or windsurf, but you’re always within sight of the shore. There are also several long, peaceful arms off the main lake, excellent for fishing or exploring by paddling. Young anglers can also fish from the dock or in shallows around the shoreline. Sailboats, canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, paddleboards, and electric motorboats are available for rent at the boat rental building, as are fishing rods.

Trails meander through the woods and fields surrounding the lake. About 6 miles are open to mountain bikes; horses are permitted on part of this section. Hope Springs Horse Farm, in the park on North Reeds Road, offers horseback riding lessons for all ages.

The remainder of the trails are pedestrian-only. All trails are natural footpaths. On the west side, they wind down to the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek; other than this steep section, they’re generally level or gently sloped. Kids will enjoy playing in the creek or along the lakeshore.

The forested lake attracts waterfowl and many other birds and wildlife. Turtles are not only here in profusion, basking on logs or artificial platforms, but they’re remarkably tolerant of (quiet) boaters. Bald eagles are not uncommon.

No swimming is allowed in the lake, but a swimming pool is near the east boat launch, and a playground is located nearby. Picnic tables are scattered around the parking areas, or you can spread a blanket on the grass and take in the beautiful views.

In winter, the lake is open for skating or ice fishing. Winter hikes in the woods offer great views of the lake; just be prepared for wind chill close to the water.

Remember: Hunting is permitted in about 900 acres of the park. During hunting season, wear blaze orange on the trails. On summer weekends, the main parking lots get crowded. The east boat launch is an alternative parking area; for hiking or biking, use the lots on Chalfont Road or Milford Road.

Plan B:

In Downingtown, on Norwood Road, the Struble Trail is a paved creekside trail for walking or biking.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Shops and restaurants are in the village of Eagle on PA 100.


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