Sunday, November 15, 2009

A walk at French Creek State Park

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.

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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.

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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.

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Evidence of beaver along the water’s edge. My husband spied their watery home, right along the shoreline and completely covered with sticks.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Respectfully submitted,

36 comments:

Jo said...

Kate, your photos are so beautiful, I feel as if I could walk right into them. And where you live looks very much like where I live. I could almost smell the damp, fall air, looking at these photos.

Cheers!

Sugar Creek Beads said...

Oh Kate, what a wonderful hike, I have never been there but it is the kind of place I like to visit. I will make it a point to check it out. Thanks for the great pics and I look forward to the rest of them soon. Jeanne

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your day with us...i love hiking with my dogs or riding down trails like the one in your pictures. a good portion of alberta and british columbia are national parks and the scenery is breathtaking. you have actually inspired me to start taking photos...usually that is my husbands job.
karen

Gail said...

Such a wonderful walk and beautiful photos.

Snappy Di said...

Such a great looking little village. Oh, gosh, and how busy those little beavers have been! Takes a log gnawing to do that to a tree.

Di

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Your photos and commentary are so real I feel like I need to stop and take a water break.

Can't wait to see where we go next.

DesertHen said...

Thank you for taking us along on your hike. What a fascinating journey...full of history! The fall colors are lovely. I look forward to reading more about the village.

tj said...

...I seriously can't wait 'til tomorrow! I love it when you take us along on your lil' trips! I'm so enjoying this I wantcha to kno'... :o)

...Blessings...

becky up the hill said...

I look forward to hearing about the village. I love history, photography and a good story teller! Go Get'em! Until tomorrow.

Farmchick said...

Really a lovely hike. I would love to see the village. Beautiful photos as always.

Country Girl said...

Hey, all. Thanks!! There is a sneak peak of tomorrrow's post over at my PictureADay blog where I've done a mosaic.
http://katespictureaday.blogspot.com/2009/11/mosaic-monday-historic-hopewell-village.html

Deb said...

I marvel at how you can be so descriptive. I could feel the autumn chill.

alphabet soup said...

Great photos and the history tour told me lots - I can't wait until tomorrow. Well, I can, but you know what I mean....
Ms Soup

Leslie: said...

I really loved going on this stroll with you, albeit vicariously. I love those old places where they've preserved the history. As Jo says, the weather is similar here, but today it's raining buckets. Really really gorgeous photos!

Leenie said...

Glad you have healed from your surgery so you can get out in the outdoors again. I enjoyed learning about the iron forges and your photos of the soft light and autumn colors were super.

Rileigh's Lolli said...

It was such a nice walk today. I think I will settle into my comfy chair with my freshly brewed cup of Lady Earl Grey, my soft baked oatmeal raisin cookie and the newspaper and relax awhile as I listen to Michael Buble sing me love songs. Have to rest up for the continuation of my walk tomorrow!

Thanks for the memories.....
Jeanne

JC said...

Looks like a very nice place to go for a walk ...

Angelena said...

beautiful photos. I took some pictures from our weekend ride in the mountains of WV. Fall has to be my favorite season. Of course I say the same thing when it comes to spring and summer as well lol

Char said...

looks like a beautiful walk!! and i'm always obsessed with anything washington visited. i've been that way since i visited mount vernon.

great shots

Wendy said...

It was lovely to read your entry today and the photos are refreshingly cool with a scorcher of a day here in Australia. I could just imagine the crunchy leaves and the walk in the brisk air. I'd like some please!

Scriptor Senex said...

A beautiful walk, thank you. I wish we had Beavers here in the UK. (Actually we do - they have recently been re-introduced to a small area of Scotland after many centuries. I'd love to visit the area and see them and their handiwork.)

Kerri said...

Oh, I want to go there and walk around! What a gorgeous place!!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a beautiful, beautiful place - those woods look glorious! The autumn is such a special time, with a wonderful atmosphere.

(I've received your lovely shell picture - thank you so much!! We're deciding on the best place to hang it - will feature it in a post!)

Russell said...

I really enjoyed this walk! Wow!

I will be checking back later today or tomorrow to see more about this area.

Take care!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Well that looks like a beautiful place to visit, thanks for the lovely photographs.

CJ xx

Inty swetha said...

woww!!
lovely pictures... the place looks heavenly..

Daryl said...

Oh that was especially walking in the leaves .. my parents visited Hopewell Junction many times before they retired to Florida .. mom loves antique shopping in that area

Dessa Wolf said...

What a treasure. I can't wait to hear more about this picturesque place.

The Japanese Redneck said...

It's hard to imagine an animal gnawing a tree of that size into.

Great shots.

JFKlaver said...

You do Hopewell Junction proud!

Jill of All Trades said...

Love the pictures. Love fall too. Too bad the trees are all naked now. :)

Loving Life in Southern California! said...

Looks like a perfect autumn weekend! What a lovely post! I love your blog header - very elegant. Following you now!

noble pig said...

What a beautiful spot, love all the fallen leaves and that tree...I've never seen that before.

TSannie said...

What a glorious place!

Donna Henderson said...

Nice work. I am inspired.

Oliag said...

...finally taking this hike with you and enjoying it thoroughly!