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French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania - OutdoorPlaces.Com

 French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

 French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania, Introduction

At 7,474 acres, French Creek State Park is internationally known.  Considered the orienteering capital of North America, every year thousands of visitors come to French Creek State Park to visit it's hiking trails, lakes, campgrounds and enjoy a wide variety of activities.  Located about one hour west of Philadelphia, French Creek State Park's facilities include hiking, hunting, canoeing, fishing, swimming, orienteering, and practically surrounds Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site.

 French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania, Summary

Address:  843 Park Road, Elverson, Pennsylvania  19520-9523

Phone:  610-582-9680, for general information (800) 637-2757
E-Mail:  frenchcreek@dcnr.state.pa.us
Size: 
7,474 acres
Season:  Year round, reduced services from mid-December to mid-April
Camping:  Yes, 201 sites, 60 with electrical hookups, modern facilities
Hiking:  Nine trails, none are easy and require some prior experience, range from one mile to eight miles
Access Fee:  No, general access and use is free
Special Activities:  Considered the best place in the country to learn orienteering, disc golf course, fishing, mountain biking, canoeing (rentals available), backcountry style hiking, surrounds Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, mature eastern forest, some sections in the eastern part of the park are almost fully recovered old growth forest

 French Creek State Park, Hiking & Orienteering

People come from all over North America to the Dutch Country of Pennsylvania to hone their orienteering skills in the relative safety of French Creek State Park.  These are not your average hiking trails.  None of the trails within the park are considered easy and after exploring the park we have to agree.  An ability to read a map and find your location by dead reckoning or compass is required here.

Hiking Trails, French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania, United States, Copyright 1999 OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights ReservedThe trails are very well marked in the sense of being able to stay on the trail, but most trails are unmarked as far as their names and there are no trail junction markers that spell out trail names.  If you have never hiked in your life, this is probably not the best park to explore taking up the hobby, although the rustic trails are quiet and beautiful, and we hope the picture tempts you to sharpen your skills to enjoy French Creek.

When hiking in French Creek State Park you will notice that almost everyone on the trails has a daypack and a light jacket.  In the case of the six mile Mill Creek Trail, it is strongly recommended to go in boots with full hiking gear, it is a rugged experience to be savored in the eastern part of the park.

The trails are marked by blazes or colored markers.  The free park map refers to the nine hiking trails that span about 40 miles by their colors, and although they have names, don't expect to see them out on the trail.  A single line indicates that the trail continues to advance straight ahead.  A double line pointing in a different (see below) direction indicates a trailhead, with the double mark indicating where the new trail or trail fork is headed.

Trail Blaze Marker, French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania, United States, Copyright 1999 OutdoorPlaces.Com, All Rights ReservedThe picture to the left is the trail marker for the junction in the picture above.  The yellow trail goes to the left, while the white trail goes straight, or in the above example actually goes right.  If this all seems confusing it can be.  Although there are numerous blazes and markers, this is not the place to be if a thick fog or sudden snow squall descended upon the area.

At first glance 7,339 acres covered by only 40 miles of trails may create the impression that most of the park is not accessible.  This is not the case.  French Creek State Park hiking trails are wonderfully laid out.  The western half of the park is very well covered with a spider web network of trails that stretch out to the park boundaries to the north and south.  The eastern part of the park is well covered but more remote.  The trails have been strategically laid out not to be so close to each other that you could see or even hear another hiking party, unless you approach a junction or trailhead.  Only the northern most section of the park is not covered and for the relative remoteness of the area, the trails are very well maintained.
 

 

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