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.
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.
This is a nicely laid out campground with 4 loops and many site choices - non-electric, electric and full hookup sites (water, sewer and electricity); a couple yurts; and 3 camping cottages. (There are cabins elsewhere in the park.) We just showed up on a Wednesday in early October but I'm sure you'd need a reservation on a weekend.
See the photo that shows 35 miles of hiking trails. It's an excellent brochure! Some trails are hiking only; others allow mountain biking in addition to hiking, and there are equestrian trails.
Boating and fishing
Swimming pool by Hopewell Lake
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is on your way to the campground.
See photo of the campground map along with typical site photos.
4 loops: no electricity in A and D, mix of electric and non-electric sites in B, and a mix of full hookups, electric and non-electric sites in C. Loop C is the only loop open all year with no guarantee of access in the winter.
Asphalt pads are all supposed to be 45 feet.
The sites looked level but many of the pads in Loop A were just a bit downhill as you back in. That means our heads are downhill for sleeping unless we turn our teardrop trailer, so we just looked until we found a level site. If you're into leveling a camper, it's not a big deal. We can adjust our back end, but we don't mess around with anything else. It is what it is!
There are water spigots around the loops and recycling/trash disposal and a dump station on your way in/out.
Site map shows some ADA accessible sites.
New Restrooms Are Worth Noting
Push button showers. You can't adjust the temperature and you have to keep pushing the button every 30 seconds or so. I guess this saves water.
Two utility sinks outside the restrooms are a good addition.
Pet Owners: Pets are only allowed in loop C.
A Couple Warnings
PA state parks do not allow alcoholic beverages at all. That's what they say.
Hunting is permitted in most of the state park. That would put a real damper on my hiking at certain times of the year because the hiking trails run right through these areas.
Stayed here to experience the parks mountain biking trails. When we got to our site, someone else was there. I went back to the office and they apologized and told us to pick any site we'd like. Very nice staff! We realized that these sites are really set up for roof top tents (as you can see in the pics). But they do have a picnic table and fire pit with grate. It was quite quiet and people were respectful of the peacefulness. The trails are super easy to get to from the campground and some pretty awesome mountain biking! You should definitely check this place out if you like camping and mountain biking. They have trails for all levels.
French creek is my favorite camping destination. plenty of activities and hiking as well as fishing and boating.
Great place to bring the kids. Huge waiding pool.
one of my favorite locations near Philadelphia, Reading and Lancaster. The bathrooms are ok, but the hiking, lake and location with nice sites makes it great for me either for rent or RV
French Creek State Park is a 7,526-acre Pennsylvania state park in North Coventry and Warwick Townships in Chester County and Robeson and Union Townships in Berks County which is approximately 15 miles southeast of Reading. This is a beautiful state park with so many wonderful activities. There really is something for everyone here and if you can’t find it you aren’t looking very hard. We LOVE camping here as the campsites are not right on top of one another. There is a lot of shade and the campground is laid out well. There are three separate loops to camp at, Loop C is the only loop that allows pets, plus an area for large group camping which can accommodate anywhere from 30 to 60 people. All sites do not have a water hook up but there is water available and some sites have electric. For an electric site it was the standard State Park fee of 33.50 per night. Also, since this is a State Park there is no alcohol allowed. The Park Rangers drive by regularly which is nice in case you are having any problems or just have general questions about the park. Another feature about this campground which is nice is that they have campground hosts. These are volunteers who stay at the site long term and help out changing tags at sites, cleaning up trash, helping campers with problems or questions, etc. You get to camp for free by being a host so if you are interested in this there is information available on their website. We had some friends who camped with us so we were able to rent two sites aside of each other which was great. We had sites #32 & #34 in Loop B and the kids had a lot of room to run and play between the two sites. We were able to book our sites online which was also a nice feature. The website is very easy to use and you can also call a phone number and they can help you book your stay at any State Park. All sites have a flat paved area for your camper. If you have a large camper or 5th wheel you may need to double check what sites can accommodate your RV to ensure you have enough room. It was nice to just be able to back up our camper and have it mostly level already. Mostly every site that I saw also had a grassy area which is fantastic when you have young kids. I am not a fan of all gravel sites! Our picnic table was definitely in need of replacement. If you leaned on it the wrong way the whole thing would shift and the benches were coming off. The other table at the other site was sturdier and much newer.
The bathroom at the campground is very nice and new however it is a little on the dirty side. I don’t know if they have anyone who goes around to clean the bath houses but it certainly was in need of cleaning. There are two large showers as well with very warm water. I was able to shower with my infant daughter and had no issues with trying to maneuver around while holding her. There is a very nice playground situated conveniently between the loops of the campground. It had some slides, a bridge, lots of monkey bars, ladders to climb on and the best feature was the zip line. All kids and adults agreed it was the most fun! If you don’t want to hang around the campground there are two lakes, Scotts Run Lake and Hopewell Lake that you can fish at, 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. Ice fishing is also allowed at both lakes and the ice thickness is monitored. There is also a pool and another playground near the park office. Not to mention the many trails for walking, hiking or biking as well! There are a ton of picnic tables too so you can take a lunch and just sit by the lake to relax and have a bite to eat. We have also attending an Orienteering event here which was nation wide and really exciting. People came from all over the country to attend which was really a great experience. There is also a frisbee golf course in the woods to make it even more interesting and competitive. The trees definitely make it harder! I have come to realize that I am not good at golf, frisbee or regular. Oh and don’t forget about the horseback riding! Please bring your own horse - no rentals available. If you are local I would recommend bringing some of your own firewood. There is not a camp store where it is available for purchase. You can find some for sale from the neighboring homes but it’s not always a guarantee. If you can’t find enough to keep you busy at the campground or park there are a few attractions nearby. There is the Reading and Berks County Visitors Bureau and Chester County Visitors Bureau, State Game Lands 43, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and Daniel Boone Homestead.
We really enjoyed camping here again and look forward to our next overnight trip. We like it so much here we take day trips here. It is such a beautiful area with all of the trees and natural beauty. I would give this campground a 4.5 rating since there were a few things that definitely needed some upkeep and cleaning.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This trip I was testing some gear from Matador Packable Adventure Gear. I tested out three products, The large nano towel, the droplet wet bag and the daylite 16 backpack. All products are very small in size. For example, the backpack and towel were not much bigger than a playing card and the droplet bag was about the size of a half dollar. The only issue I had ordering from their website was what product to choose!
Matador Day Light 16 Backpack
- The size is definitely a bonus as you can store this bag inside of another bag, purse, backpack, etc. to have in case you need it for more storage. It is extremely light weight and has a small bag to carry it in when not in use. It really wasn’t much bigger than a water bottle when it was all folded up.
- I was skeptical at the size of the pack and wondering how much could this pack really hold. We went for a small hike around the lake - we were toting three kids, one of which was in a stroller. I was able to fit 5 diapers, a large bottle of suntan lotion, a pack of wipes, snack container, travel changing pad, Matador large NanoDry towel, Matador droplet wet bag and a bottle of milk on the side in the drink pocket. There was still plenty of room to spare.
- I was concerned with the strap size of the backpack as I have learned over the years I don’t like thinner strapped packs as they tend to dig into my armpits and shoulders. The straps were very thin as well as they are designed to be lightweight and breathable.
- The bag is waterproof! The zippers are water resistant and seal keeping the wet out and the dry in. When we were hiking it was very warm and I was definitely sweating. My bag stayed dry and so did everything in it. When we were packing up a severe thunderstorm rolled through. The bag was in the rain and I was surprised that everything inside was dry! The rain just rolled right off!
- It is very portable, light weight, the material is puncture proof, weather resistant and overall a great day pack for hiking, shopping, going to the beach, perfect for an amusement park or extra storage. It is extremely versatile.
- There are two side compartments for water bottles which are deep and stretchy. They definitely keep your bottles in tack and can even handle an umbrella without worry of it falling out.
- I have broader shoulders and since it was a smaller pack it was a little bit of a struggle to get it on. I managed to shuffle myself into it with minimal struggle.
- The material is very slippery. It did make it a little difficult to fold it down and pack back into the pouch. Once you get it so small it would just start slipping around. After a few tries we got it back in with no problem.
- The thinner straps definitely started to dig into my armpits. I liked the breathable straps but think they should be a little wider.
- It would be nice if there was an inside pocket. I guess you could use the pouch it gets stored it when not in use but it would flop all around if your pack wasn’t full.
- There is not a lot of structure to the bag. Since the material is pretty thin whatever you pack in there you will feel sticking you if you don’t pack correctly.
Overall, I was very happy with the bag. It exceeded my expectations and am looking for any excuse to use this bag again!
Matador NanoDry Large Shower Towel
- The size of the silicone travel case is extremely convenient. You could throw this in any bag on your way to the beach, gym, pool or shower. The towel itself folds down very easily and folds back into the silicone case with ease.
- I was absolutely AMAZED at the amount of water this towel can hold! I was able to shower and be completely dry - no damp areas whatsoever - and then I wrapped up my hair to dry. It held every drop of water - no leaks. I couldn’t believe how well it worked and will definitely be looking to purchase more! Plus, it was extremely quick drying! This towel is super duper thin. Once I hung it up it didn’t take long at all to dry!
- I love, love, love that it is antimicrobial too! It will stay fresher longer.
- The size of this towel is comparable to a normal shower towel. It is large enough to wrap around your body. Plus, it is extremely light weight. Once you open up your towel you will be amazed at how much it weighs. It is amazing how something so thin can absorb so much water!
- The carrying case has a carabiner clip to hang up or clip to your gear for convenience and maximum portability. There is a snap loop on the towel to hang up or use to wrap your hair up and clip to hold. Plus it is machine washable.
- Even though the towel is a nice size it could still be a little bigger. My husband is 6’3” and he felt like he was using a dishcloth to dry himself off. It worked very well, but could offer an XXL possibly.
- The carabiner seemed a little cheaply made. I would definitely make an upgrade to a little heavier duty clip.
Honestly, this was the product that I had the most doubts about its performance and it turned out I ended up loving this the most. I love it so much in fact I will be purchasing more in the future. It’s Christmas in July right?
Matador Droplet Wet Bag
- In real estate they say it is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. When you are backpacking I think it is about the SIZE, SIZE, SIZE. Well, your problems have been answered with the droplet bag. This thing is tiny but packs a huge punch. This is small enough to fit on a keychain! It has a silicone pouch the bag fits into that you can carry virtually anywhere!
- The drawstring closure is a nice feature. Some drawstrings have bulky string that gets too bunched up and doesn’t allow the bag to fully close. That was not the case in this situation. The bag closed up tightly and even though the string is thin it seems strong.
- It keeps the wet in or out - depending on your needs. I used the bag to put our daughter’s wet diaper and onesie in after she splashed around in the lake. I then threw the bag into our Matador DL 16 backpack and it didn’t leak or get anything else in the bag wet. We also tried keeping the wet out. We went to an amusement park and went on the Sploosh ride. You know - basically the giant log flume ride but in a boat. So we had our phones and money in the droplet bag and went on the ride. WE WERE SOAKED! It was a lot of fun and our phones and money were safe and dry!
- This is a key chain however the ring is very, very small. I have large hands for a girl - I can palm a basketball - and I had a very hard time trying to attach the ring to my bag. I would definitely recommend a little larger of a ring.
- I had to fold and refold the bag a few times in order to get it back into the droplet shaped case. It took me a couple of tries but I finally succeeded! It doesn’t look as nice as it did when it arrived but it works.
- The drawstring clip is a little small. (Remember, I have large hands for a girl) It kept slipping out of my fingers as I was trying to push the button down so I could draw the bag shut. I think you would have a hard time fitting a larger clip into the droplet bag once it is all folded up.
I definitely love the convenience of this product as you can clip it anywhere and go. You never know when you may need to keep something dry or have a bag for something wet. There is a large bag as well available which looks like it would be great for a family. I am overall extremely impressed with the quality, convenience, compactability and overall everyday use of Matador products. I look forward to expanding my collection for our future adventures! Please also check out my reviews on Macaroni Kid Reading under the Guides Tab / Day Trips and Destinations.
This is a beautiful area with everything you love about camping. The hiking trails are well maintained, there's a swimming area and a boat dock. There's even a disc golf course! It's dog friendly and one of my favorite places.
Nothing too crazy, the trails are kinda boring but it's a chill system all together. Definitely nothing too spectacular but still very fun!
I grew up going to French Creek camping with my family so I'm glad that I have started going back as an adult, as there have been many upgrades. The sites are close together, but there is a lot of greenery between so there is privacy. This is a state park so no alcohol. People always flip out when they get a fine for "quietly drinking a single beer"… Well yeah that's still alcohol. The grounds offer a lot to do between the pool, boating, trails playgrounds. It's safe if you have kids with bikes. Just an overall good time. There are multiple loops to camp in so you have the option of hookups and water and also loops that allow pets. The bathroom was great in our loop, can't speak for the others.