Time Required: approx. 1 to 3 hours
Parking: multiple lots in park (free)
Valley Forge National Historic park is a historic park 60 miles outside of Philadelphia, PA, where American history is weaved into the pride and personality of the city. The park commemorates a winter encampment of the Contintental Army, and is set up to let your imagine what life was like for those soldiers in 1777-78.
But it’s not only a great historical site, it’s a great place to hike and stand in awe of the Great Outdoors as well.
I’d been curious about Valley Forge for some time before we finally went to visit. The park honors an important element of being an American, and we wanted to pay it its due. Additionally, we love hiking and have recently learned how to better appreciate historical landmarks, and Valley Forge has both. And, to make the visit even better, it’s free!
Chris, our friend Christine, and I drove out to Valley Forge one Saturday morning, following directions from our GPS (Gerdie Deuce) to… more road. When Gerdie Deuce announced that we had reached our destination, we were on a fairly empty road, surrounded by trees. But soon enough, we saw a sign in the familiar shade of State Park Brown and started looking for a place to park.
That brings me to my main suggestion for people visiting Valley Forge. Decide ahead of time where you should park if you have a specific activity or exhibit in mind. The park is pretty large and not well-marked. If you’re a wanderer, like we are, just make sure to remember the name of the parking lot you choose!
We spent a little bit of time looking for the Mt. Joy trail, then finally gave up and decided to just take the one that looked the most interesting. Another suggestion I have for making the most of your adventure is something I think can apply to all adventures: If your day doesn’t follow your plan precisely, go with it and have fun anyway! Our hike proved to be a mix of the Joseph Plumb Trail and the Valley Forge Historical Trail. It was a lovely, easy hike through the cool woods. And, even though it was nice Saturday, it wasn’t busy.
After enjoying the trail for about a half hour (we stopped an admired our surroundings a few times), we found ourselves at the actual site Washington’s headquarters, where historical exhibits are set up to help visitors understand the significance of where they are standing. While the hike was fun and the woods were very pretty, this was an exceptional part of our visit and is the part that makes me want to go back most.
We also got to see–and go inside!– the huts of Muhlenberg’s brigade, giving us a tiny, tiny look at the lifestyle of a soldier during that time. There were also helpful guides all around, ready to answer questions and share stories about the generals and the soldiers who stayed there.
After exploring the Washington’s Headquarters area, we were ready to hike back and get some coffee and see what else we could use to fill our day. But, after a short morning visit, we definitely agreed we’d all want to come back.
Address: 1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone Number: 610.783.1000
More info: https://www.nps.gov/vafo/index.htm