Contributed by Katie Levy, Adventure-Inspired
Eastern Pennsylvania’s 7, 700 acre French Creek State Park is one of my favorite places to visit, no matter the time of year. Between the hiking trails, beautiful lakes and variety of activities available, it’s the perfect destination for a day or weekend trip. But on a visit earlier this month, I was reminded of just how incredible French Creek is during the autumn season, and I can’t wait to make another trip soon.
French Creek State Park is located an hour west of Philadelphia, which makes it a particularly appealing quick trip for city dwellers like me. In addition to the available activities for human visitors, the park is a happening place for many animal species. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR), French Creek is designated as an Important Bird Area and Important Mammal Area by the National Audubon Society.
The park is home to two beautiful lakes: 22-acre Scotts Lake and 68-acre Hopewell Lake. Visitors can swim in a swimming pool by Hopewell Lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and can paddle both lakes year round. There’s also a boat launch available at both lakes, and boats can be rented during the park’s busy season. You can also bring inflatable watercraft like I did on a visit last summer, but it has to meet specific park standards. Both lakes are accessible via a variety of hiking and mountain biking trails. Take a Hike
French Creek is one of my favorite local hiking spots, due both to trail accessibility and the variety of terrain. There are over 35 miles of trails available, but the blue blazed Boone Trail (6 miles) and yellow blazed Horseshoe Trail (8 miles) are among my favorites. I spent time on both trails last weekend and found some pretty spectacular fall foliage. Be sure to stop at the visitor center near Hopewell Lake for a trail map when you arrive, or use your Pocket Ranger® app to download maps before you arrive.
Take a Mountain Bike Ride
On one of my first trips to French Creek, a few friends and I navigated around parts of Scotts Lake via the Boone Trail on our mountain bikes to train for an adventure race. It’s a great way to see the same terrain a good bit faster! Twenty miles of French Creek’s trails are open to mountain bikers, most of which are beginner and intermediate cyclist-friendly.
Hunting, Camping and More
If you’re not a hiker or a mountain biker, you can get around the park on horseback on one of the trails, and over 6,000 acres of the park are available for hunting. If more than one of these activities appeal to you and you can’t imagine fitting it all into one day, there are plenty of overnight camping options at French Creek. I’ve stayed in the 200-site campground in the fall before and hope to make it back for a winter overnight. Cross country skiing, sledding, ice fishing and ice skating are popular winter activities. There are also camping cottages, yurts and modern cabins if you’d prefer a real roof over your head when you stay at French Creek. If you’re ever planning a visit to eastern Pennsylvania and need to add a beautiful state park to your itinerary, French Creek State Park really does have something for everyone!
Have you been to French Creek? What’s your favorite part of the park? Don’t forget to use your Pocket Ranger® app to find out everything you need to know before you go!