As we bid farewell to summer, packing away our swimsuits, sunglasses and fond memories, it’s time to turn our attention to fall and all of its outdoorsy potential. We are so lucky to be in Pennsylvania, more specifically Chester County, as there are breathtaking hiking spots only a stone’s throw from campus. Grab your friends, pack a sandwich, hop in the car and let’s hit the trails.
Stroud Preserve is just eight minutes from campus. Nestled along the east branch of the Brandywine Creek, Stroud is a little oasis with rolling hills, functioning farmland and wide open pastures. With five trails of varying difficulty, there is an aggregate nine miles for you to hike, run, stroll with your love or walk your pup; ideal during sunset.
Marsh Creek State Park is 25 minutes from campus. Right off Route 100, Marsh Creek’s man-made lake is great for kayaking or canoeing (rentals available 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, weather permitting through the month of September). There are 18 miles of trail to choose, but the lakeside trail is accessible throughout the park with gravel or grass terrain and some more challenging dirt/rocky parts. It meanders alongside the shore, cuts into the woods and passes over the dam which provides a quaint view of the lake, especially during the fall foliage!
Valley Forge National Historical Park is 25 minutes from campus. While you might be brought back to the elementary school field trip days at the mention of Valley Forge, do not discount this local gem! Valley Forge is beautiful during the fall and is a favorite place for cyclists, runners and history buffs alike. The five mile Joseph Plumb Martin (JPM) loop path is ideal, winding through Revolutionary War era cannons and cabins, wide open fields and areas of tree cover. If you are a runner and need to log some miles, run the JPM!
If you have a full day to spare, here are two spots you can’t pass up:
Ricketts Glen State Park is two and a half hours from campus. One of the most quintessential spots in all of Pennsylvania, the waterfall hike is a must-do! The Falls Trail is a 7.2 mile loop that passes 21 breathtaking waterfalls. One could also do an out-and-back as the trail is mostly steps and inclines. Sturdy footwear is necessary. Take in the fresh air of the Appalachians, walk through mist from the falls and do not attempt if there is a Frost Advisory in effect (mist will freeze over on the trail).
Hickory Run State Park is just under a two hour drive. Hickory Run is another standout amongst Pennsylvania’s 121 State Parks. Be sure to climb around the boulder field- a literal field of boulders- or grab your frisbee and hit the 19-hole disc golf course near the Sand Spring Day Use Area. The popular Hawk Falls Trail is a fabulous one-mile loop to, as the name suggests, Hawk Falls.
Amanda Mills is a fourth-year political science major with minors in communication studies and Spanish. She can be reached at AM836938@wcupa.edu.