The urge to escape the house and head somewhere else, anywhere else, became overwhelming yesterday. So we packed up the dog and a bite to eat and drove north for well over an hour. We were heading for a hike at French Creek, a state park in Chester County, PA.
The weather had finally quieted down after days of high winds and bursts of rain.
We parked at the entrance to Hopewell Lake and began the walk that skirts the edge of the water.
There’s camping galore at this state park, and there are boats for rent as well. There's also a huge swimming pool, so it’s a pretty hopping place in the summertime. We prefer the fall and the early spring.
I’ve always marveled at how prolific the picnic tables are down by the water. And this is nothing. We’re going to pass many more. I’ll spare you the details, however.
Evidence of beaver along the water’s edge. My husband spied their watery home, right along the shoreline and completely covered with sticks.
It’s milder than it’s been for the past 4-5 days and the air has a swirling mist, not quite rain but substantial enough to want to keep the camera covered.
We cross a little bridge of wood planks and continue down the path, which turns into a cart road that’s dotted with the yellow blaze of the Horseshoe Trail. The Horseshoe, a 140-mile hiking and equestrian trail, runs all the way from Valley Forge to the Appalachian Trail in southeastern PA, just north of Harrisburg.
The history of the trail goes back to the iron industry in the 18th & 19th centuries. Many of the furnaces were connected by this trail, as well as others, and it’s amazing that this one still survives today.
The signs above are welcoming us to Hopewell Furnace, established in the late 1700’s and which played a key role in supplying the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. One of the reasons that General Washington had the troops camped at Valley Forge was to protect the supply lines for the products of the iron furnaces along the route.
If I had my macro lens, you’d be able to see all the water droplets laying on the leaves of this beautifully colored bush. I really love walking this trail. It’s not too terribly long or rough, and it leads to one of my favorite places.
The trail brings us to the very edge of the village and as we look to the right we can see the old tenant houses where ironworkers and their families dwelled. They are all open for viewing. Across the road from the tenant worker homes is a boarding house where the young unmarried men dwelled.
Looking to the left a the edge of the trail is Hopewell Village, with the cast house on the left, the blacksmith’s shop (behind the tree), the barn, which at the height of production in the 1800’s housed as many as 38 draft horses, and the springhouse in the background.
I’ve been hiking here for nearly 30 years, not all the time but every now and then. It never ceases to amaze me when I come out of the woods on the Horseshoe Trail, that this beautifully preserved village awaits.
More on the village tomorrow. I know you can’t wait to hear all about it.