Once an industrial complex for the fledgling United State of America, today French Creek State Park is an oasis for people and wildlife. Straddling the Schuylkill Highlands, the 7,730-acre park is the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington D.C. and New York City. The forests, lakes, wetlands and fields are a destination for the people of southeast Pennsylvania to hike, fish, camp and bike.
This was the worst trail I've ever been on. The graffiti made me so sad. Not only were there penises and boobs drawn at least a dozen times, there were also racial quotes. It was appalling. Made me pretty upset. I wish people respected nature more. People respect nature more in rural South Carolina where I'm from. There aren't even racial slurs on trees there believe it or not.
I hiked this trail on a Fall Saturday late morning. It was very peaceful and quiet, only saw one other person on the section that merges with the Horse Shoe trail. Would definitely recommend wearing sturdy shoes, especially after leaves have fallen. Parts of the trail are very rocky and it was hard to see with all the leaf covering. This trail can be easily accessed from the campground by the connector trail - I just walked down the back of my campsite and I came right to it!
This was a fun trail in the fall. The parking lot for this trail is on Saint Peters Road, across from the West Hanover Winery (coordinates approximately 40.180170, -75.731318). The trail head from here is a small concrete foot bridge. Honestly, the hardest thing about this trail is figuring out where the heck it is - it's hard to sort legitimate blazes from graffiti, and there are several appealing trails that appear unmarked (I kinda think the actual Saint Pete's trail might be one of them). The yellow trail is actually Horseshoe Trail, I think, which is an out and back trail.
If you enter the trail at the footbridge and go left, you'll be heading south over rocks. Be careful as you move through these, and if you're uncomfortable with the rocky scramble, look uphill to your right and you'll find some easier terrain. Keep going south until you see yellow blazes - you want to follow them generally northwest or west (if you keep going south, you'll hit Ridge Road and probably want to double back). After about a third of a mile, the trail becomes quite easy and beautiful. I stopped to have breakfast on boulders at the meeting point of three trails, then continued on. You'll encounter a long, straight stretch that will eventually take you to Tryhall Road, where things will get confusing. This is at roughly the 1.75 mile mark, where the Alltrails map will tell you to hike a short ways down Tryhall Road to find a trail leading back the way you came. I couldn't find it, and I'm not sure it exists. The yellow blazes continue across the road - that's Horseshoe trail, which as I've said, is an out and back. However, following that trail a short distance across the road will take you to a lovely little pond.
From this point, I doubled back until I found an unmarked trail off to the left that followed a stream back to French Creek. This was a really lovely hike through some beautiful woods. It will feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, until you begin to spy the houses to your right. From there, just follow your nose back to French Creek and the parking lot.
If you'd like to hike with your dog, just stay off the rocks and proceed northwest from the parking lot instead of going south. If you have a skittish dog, try parking on the pull-off on Tryhall Road and taking the trail from there (I saw two people with dogs on that portion of the trail, and they were the only people I saw the whole time).