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Valley Forge National Historical Park


Valley Forge National Historic Park sign

If you're a fan of history and nature, Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania is a must-visit. It's not just a huge, beautiful park, but it's also a piece of American history, about 25 miles from Philadelphia. This is where General George Washington and his army spent a tough winter during the Revolutionary War. Despite the freezing weather, lack of supplies, and illness, this place was where they toughed it out and came out stronger.

Here’s what you can check out:

Washington's Headquarters: It's not every day you get to see where a famous general lived. The Isaac Potts House is exactly that, and it’s pretty cool.

Muhlenberg Brigade Huts: These are replicas of the cabins the soldiers stayed in. They’re super rustic and really give you a feel for what life was like back then.

National Memorial Arch: This big stone arch is pretty awe-inspiring. It was built to remember the soldiers who hung in there at Valley Forge.

Visitor Center: This is the perfect starting point. They've got displays, a film, and rangers who know everything about the place.

Trails and Recreation:

Valley Forge National Historical Park is a real treat for anyone who loves the outdoors and a bit of adventure. With over 30 miles of trails weaving through the park, it’s a paradise for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the top trails you’ll want to check out:

  • Mount Misery Trail: Don’t let the name scare you off! This 2.6-mile trail is a bit of a workout, leading you to the park's highest point. It starts with a steep climb and takes you through some rocky spots, but it's a fun trek.

  • Mount Joy Trail: This one’s a cousin to Mount Misery, stretching 2.5 miles to the summit of Mount Joy. It offers lovely scenery and a moderate challenge, perfect for a day out in nature.

  • Joseph Plumb Martin Trail: Named after a young soldier with some incredible stories, this 6.6-mile loop hits all the park's hotspots, like Washington's Headquarters and the National Memorial Arch. It’s like a walking history tour.

  • Schuylkill River Trail: Ideal for a leisurely stroll, run, or bike ride, this 2.2-mile paved path runs along the scenic Schuylkill River. It’s part of a much bigger trail network, so there’s always more to explore.

But that's not all. Valley Forge isn’t just about hitting the trails. It's a place where you can picnic, spot birds, see wildlife, and dive into some really cool ranger-led programs and living history demos. They've got events year-round that bring the park's history to life. So, whether you’re a history buff or just love being outside, Valley Forge has something special for you.

Mt Misery map
It is very common to do a loop of the Mt Misery trail, Horseshoe Trail and Valley Creek trail. Doing this will allow to see some of the fun things like the Colonial Springs Bottling Plant on the Horseshoe Trail and the century old dam on the Valley Creek trail.

Mt Misery Trailhead Sign

Colonial Springs Bottling Plant

The Colonial Springs Bottling Plant is an abandoned facility located near the eastern end of the Horse-Shoe Trail in Valley Forge Park. It's believed that commercial bottling of the spring water began after General Benjamin Franklin Fisher purchased the property in 1895. Fisher was a Civil War hero and later practiced as a lawyer. He and his brother assembled a large tract of land on Mount Misery, including the Colonial Springs plot. 
In 1908, Fisher granted a lease to the Colonial Springs Company to use the waters of Cold Spring. After Fisher's death in 1915, his heirs sold the tract to Charles Hires, known for Hires Root Beer. However, there is no evidence that Hires Company made root beer at the Springs. The bottling of the spring water ceased when the land was purchased by Valley Forge State Park in the 1930s (this was of course before becoming a National Historic Park).

Today you can hike the Horseshoe Trail and see the ruins!

Remains of the old Colonial Springs Bottling Plant

Colonial Spring Bottling Plant remains
Part of the stream running through the building remains!

Colonial Spring Bottling Plant remains with stream
Part of the stream running through the building remains! (again)

Frog on grates
Little dude blends in a little too well. Almost stepped on him!

Beautiful dam waters! Found on the Valley Creek trail portion of the Mt Misery loop

Polluted Water No Swimming
That sounds about right. However, it's not polluted because of the park, its 
polluted due to activities outside the park. 

Valley Creek, an Exceptional Value tributary within the Schuylkill River watershed, faces challenges from urbanization, agricultural practices, and industrial discharges that impact water quality. Despite its protective designation, the creek is affected by PCB contamination, sedimentation, nutrient pollution, and flow alteration due to impervious surfaces, stormwater runoff, and increased development in the area.

I had to snap this picturesque (well it is a picture) view before we left the park. A very nice day!


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