In Pennsylvania, the once industrious geography of North Coventry and Warwick now serves as home to 7,730 acres of protected wilderness known as French Creek State Park. Right in the heart of the Schuylkill Highlands, the park’s boundaries make up the largest mass of forested space between anywhere in Washington D.C. and New York City. The diverse land consisting of forests, wetlands, marshes, and sleepy bluffs throughout have become a top destination for the people of southeast Pennsylvania to hike, fish, camp, and bike.
At a point long ago, before the industrial revolution, the land was once dominated by ancient forests of American chestnut. Sadly, in 1771 foresters started to clear these trees, in order to create charcoal for the furnace at nearby Hopewell Furnace. However, the forests were still allowed to regrow, with routine clearing scheduled every 25 years thereafter. The furnace was in operation for 112 years until 1883, and its impact on the regional environment was undeniable. The once wooded hillsides, towering trees, and babbling brooks that once existed now appeared as a barren wasteland in many areas. The ecological outlook was looking dim, that is until President Roosevelt started the CCC in 1993 as a response to economic turmoil created by the Great Depression.
During the same time, Governor Gifford Pinchot invited the CCC to assist in reclaiming this special land, and they subsequently worked to clear the forests and streams of brush. To commemorate the work, they began the restoration of the historic Hopewell Furnace as well as the creation of many of the facilities still in use today at the park. Among these facilities are several tent camping areas, two group camps, picnic shelters, two small dams and lakes, and even the extensive network of roads and trails that snake throughout the park.
Today, the second growth has brought with it a rebirth of life and wonder to the region. This massive expansion of protected land is now home to a multitude of rare animals and plants, not commonly found in the region. For example, French Creek State Park is an Important Bird Area as designated by the National Audubon Society, and an Important Mammal Area as designated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Pine Swamp is a State Park Natural Area. The park is now known for its diverse fishing, large abundance of wild game for hunt, and it’s plethora of outdoor recreation activities available within.
Visitors to the park have a few options for overnight accommodations. The campground itself is well suited for both large and small groups, as well as individuals. In total, 201 modern sites accommodate thousands of visitors annually. The campground also boast a range of amenities, including a centrally located shower and toilet facility. Additionally, there are ten cozy cabins with heat and electricity. Finally, there are two historic group camping CCC Cabins available. The facilities include dining halls, central washhouses, and cabins for campers and staff.
We love French Creek, it is a short drive from Philly(about an hour in light traffic), but it feels like you left the city far behind you.Campsites are clean and we'll maintained. Some sites are a bit more private than others, but we've had both and they're perfectly fine. The bathrooms& showers are convenient and clean.Access to boat rentals & a swimming pool(both are a bit more expensive than you might expect-- so we just decide on one to do). Town of Birdsboro is nearby for necessary things(drinks, ice cream, etc). All in all, our family's favorite summer spot.The neighboring Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is also very interesting. During the summer months, the pool(very large) is open to the public for a fee, and there's a lake for boating(but no swimming). I highly recommend this place for a great day trip any time of year.
Had a great getaway here in early September. During the week it was quiet the weekend came and every site filled up. Even picked fresh apples just down the road.
Stayed in B-08 on mid October and had a great trip. The site was non-electric and it seems most of the outer side of this loop is basic camping with the inside of the loop having power. The other loops offer full hookups but opting for this area kept us from being surrounded by massive RV's. Easy back in spot for our car, partially shaded, decent brush cover between sites and able to keep tent about 20 yards from the road on a crushed rock pad. I will say this site has a little bit of slope but nothing that affected our sleep. The fire ring is very high sided and if you're not sitting on a higher camp chairs you kind of miss the fire. Picnic table was sturdy but easy enough to move lnto place to fit our needs. Tons of hike mg within the park including some historic sites at Hopewell Furnace like the blacksmith shop and old residences. Checked in a. It before the stated 3pm time without issues. Very few rangers seen during stay but it is after labor day and most of the seasonal attractions like the pool etc were closed for the season. Very clean bathrooms with easy to use dish sinks on the outside. Overall for a trip that within 75 minutes of Philly you can't go wrong for a quick jaunt out of town.
Campground Review: French Creek State Park Campground is located in Elverson, Pennsylvania and sits adjacent to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. There are 200 individual sites in four loops, some with full hookups for RVs, some with electric only but mostly primitive sites. There are also several cottages, cabins and yurts available as well.
For this trip, my husband and I camped alongside our friends, which included three other couples and their children, so we took up two electric sites for the tent campers and two full hook up sites for our friends with RVs. We stayed in Loop C, which is the only dog friendly loop in the campground, on sites 35, 37, 39,& 40. Thankfully, a short walk to the bathroom facilities for us tent campers.
Normally site 35 would have been way too small for our usual gear– a behemoth 9X15 tent- but it was a perfect fit for the tent I was reviewing on this trip. Our friends, who have the same large tent as us, stayed on site 37 and had plenty of space to pitch it, but many of the sites surrounding ours were very rocky and left little option for a larger than normal sized tent so keep this in mind if you have a large family sized tent. I’ve included a few photos of the surrounding sites for future reference. The bath/shower house in this loop was adequate and includes two dish washing stations outside. The showers had good pressure and hot water. It was cleaned often throughout the weekend, however it is definitely in need of an update.
We also checked out the other loops for future use and found Loop A to have very spacious, less rocky sites, however, there was little shrubbery between each site, making them less private than the sites in Loop C.
There are two lakes in French Creek, Hopewell and Scott's Run and each contain many species of fish. We spent Saturday afternoon fishing but not catching anything at Scott's Run. It’s a beautiful location and it was still a fun way to spend the day with the kids away from the site.
We found several places nearby to purchase wood, besides the supermarket and a nursery in town, there are a few residents that sell it right on their front lawn so be on the look-out en route to the park entrance.
Generally, we camp in the off season, and usually have the whole place to ourselves, so I had some concern prior to arrival that every site in every loop was booked for the whole weekend and expected it to be noisy, however, I was pleasantly surprised. It was quiet and our neighbors were respectful of the quiet hours and our space. It was a wonderfully peaceful weekend for us all and we will definitely visit again soon.
Product Review: Wenzel Ivanhoe 6 Tent
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I am occasionally offered the opportunity to test new outdoor products. For this trip I tested the Wenzel Ivanhoe 6 Tent https://wenzelco.com/ivanhoe-6/.
Generally, my husband and I use a larger ez up tent, but I liked this tent specifically for the design which is reminiscent of the tent my parents used when I was a child and figured it would be a good option for shorter weekend trips, rather than our 9X15 ez-up.
The set up was relatively easy, although one person might have some difficulty. It held up well during an evening thunderstorm, but for a small seam leak near the door. We believe this is a result of the fact that our site was slightly uneven and that particular corner was not as evenly pitched with the other corners of the tent which resulted in a bit of a gap in the roof.
The airflow is great, with the small vent in the rear, two side windows and the full screen door. There are also two smaller vents at the top- though neither seem seem to add that much airflow,- perhaps a design flaw or more likely the uneven ground it was pitched on.
I love the fact that there are awnings over the side windows, but in order for them to be effective one must stake out three guy lines on each side, plus the one on the front and the back. Knowing this I had purchased some small lights to hang on the lines to prevent tripping on them at night and it worked out perfectly.
The front doors are secured closed from wind and rain by velcro strips, rather than the standard ties. There are four side pockets and a handy troubleshooting guide sewn into the interior wall for any issues you experience while in use, such as leaking, condensation, or a faulty zipper.
I am very happy with this tent. For the two of us it was the perfect size for our ten inch high queen size air mattress and some minimal gear. The peak height was just over 6 foot, so we were both able to stand upright without issue.
Our first shakedown of our new Ranger 12 Aliner camper. Reservations were easy through DCNR and check in was smooth. Level site, quiet evenings along with comfortable sleeping. Site was wooded, bathrooms/showers were good but required more attention in maintenance and follow up inspections throughout the day. Park offered hiking for visiting family members, something like 35 miles of trails, lakes, streams and offered fishing and boating opportunities. Enjoyed other local streams like Hay Creek, French Creek, and we are looking forward to fall trout fishing as well. Enjoy this gem.
I've been camping at French Creek since I was a kid. I now take my daughter (6). I usually stay in loop A and enjoy the sites. Bathrooms are clean and easily accessible from any of the sites in the loop. The hiking trails are close by and there are plenty available. Never had a bad time there and will continue camping at French Creek for years to come.
We stayed in loop C. Very nice site. Bathrooms were ok not the cleanest but not the worst I have seen. Love the hiking trails.
French Creek State Park
Loop C Site 36
Hey everyone! Ranger Jen here with my first camping trip of the season for 2019. We have been having a crazy amount of rain here in Pennsylvania so due to weather related issues we haven’t been able to get out there until now. We absolutely love camping at French Creek for several reasons. The first has to be the sites. As long as you don’t stay right across from the bath houses you will find ample shade at your site. There are so many trees and brush in between most sites you can’t even really see your neighbors. Secondly, the price you pay for what you get is extremely cost effective. It cost us $65 for the weekend plus a $6 service fee for using the Reserve America website. We had electric however no water or sewer hookup. There was a spigot for water at the next site over from us, so we didn’t have to walk far to get fresh water. This is a great place to stay for a family or the outdoor enthusiast as there is so much to do. There is a huge lake where you can rent canoes and kayaks. A huge pool that has a beautiful view overlooking the lake. There are trails for mountain biking or hiking, a frisbee golf course, playground at the campground and at the lake, and an amphitheater at the campground where they hold events and Sunday morning church services. Not to mention close by there is Hopewell National Furnace and St. Peter’s Village with shops and restaurants and hiking trails as well. There are also two lakes, Scotts Run Lake and Hopewell Lake that you can fish, kayak, canoe or just relax by. There are several warm water fish in the lakes including northern pike, chain pickerel, bass, walleye, muskellunge and several types of panfish. If RV or tent camping is not your thing there are also two Yurts and one cabin available for rental as well.
We have stayed at French Creek in the past however, we have never stayed in Loop C before. This is the only loop that allows pets. I expected it to be much noisier than it was. All of the dogs were well behaved, and we didn’t have any problems as we took our walks around the loop. At the bath house there are two sinks for washing dishes and a counter to set them on which is nice. They are deep sinks also with HOT water. I was very disappointed in the cleanliness of the women’s bathroom. Let me just say I went one time and didn’t go back. Luckily, we have a cassette toilet in our camper. Normally, I just use that in the middle of the night but not this time. The campground hosts were nice and helpful however I don’t think they are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms. However, someone should look into having it done ASAP.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time and this weekend I was testing Morsel Sporks. We had two sizes which were the XL and the mini. Upon ordering I was thinking the mini would be a good size for our almost 2 year old and my husband, son and I would use the XL’s. I was surprised at the size of the XL when they arrived in the mail. I was originally thinking how am I going to use this gigantic thing but the more I used it the happier I was with the size.
The XL is perfect for getting down to the corner of your bagged meals, scraping the sides of your bowl without the worry of scratching due to the rubber edges which also helps to conform to any hand. I used it to mix my pancake batter. The fork worked great to whisk the eggs and the spoon side was great for getting down into the mix to ensure it was all mixed in. I also made chili and it was great for stirring as you are not to fry with them however you can submerge them in hot water. We also used them to eat our chili. It was funny as my husband was using the spoon side and me the fork side. What do you eat your chili with? Let the great debate begin! P.S. – It was a think chili however I did end up flipping it over at the end to scrape my bowl with the spatula. What was especially nice with the XL was that once I did flip it over to use the other end my hand was able to stay in the same place and not get full of sauce. I can’t stand when I get something on my utensil and then it gets on my fingers. That was always a problem I had with other products like this in the past. The XL is 10.5 inches long and the mini is 7.5 inches long. The mini has been great to travel with for our daughter. She uses it to eat everything from applesauce, hotdogs, mac and cheese, ice cream, Rita’s and yogurt. It is very lightweight (.6 oz mini, .85 oz XL) yet durable, so she can be rough with it and it holds up. Let’s be real, we all know our kids throw stuff. The material which is plastic is very easy to clean as well and doesn’t get greasy. I even use mine at work. #1 it cuts down on plastic wear in the garbage and #2 because the plastic wear is cheap, and it just bends under the pressure of just trying to eat. Seriously, it bends when I try to eat a salad. There is also a hole, so you can clip it to your pack. Plus, this product is made in the USA and they offer a lifetime guarantee as long as it is under normal conditions. There is also just a spoon/spatula that can be purchased along with a combo of the products. The cost is very reasonable and it is a lifetime guarantee so all the more reason to spend for the quality.
I have done some research and have found that some left-handed people have some trouble using the product. Maybe if they angled the bottoms it would help. Also, it would be nice to have the XL handle size with the size of the mini ends. My husband who is a cancer survivor has issues eating due to reconstructive surgery on his jaw. He can only open his mouth so wide. He did okay but after a while it was making his mouth tired to be opening it to get it in his mouth. Maybe if it was a little slimmer it would help. The fork side is really pointy as well so if you have this in your backpack you may want to wrap something around it to ensure you don’t poke a hole in anything you don’t want a hole through. I think it would be cool to have a glow in the dark version of these products as well. There is not a sharp knife so if you are eating meat or something that requires cutting you will most likely need something else. Overall, I was very happy with this product. I will definitely be looking into getting some more.
Thanks for reading and happy camping!
Had a lovely time. Quiet, peaceful, great trails which can be hiked from campground. Pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and it looked crystal clean and huge! Park was very well marked, no question where to go or where we are. Rv spot was level! I would recommend it and will go back!
French Creek is a beautiful park with lots to do like: boating, hiking, swimming, and disk golf. Unfornatlaly the campsites are really close together not allowing for much privacy. That said, the bathrooms were clean and there were sinks right outside them where you could wash your dishes.