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 camped here this weekend, working on some Scouting requirements. Had a great time! The only downsides: (1) the grass was quite tall in the Organized Group Camp sites (above-ankle grass + scouts in and out of tents after the dew falls = wet feet!); (2) It was fine for us this specific time, but if more/all the Organized Group Campsite spots were being used, there would not have been anywhere near enough toilets (unless the boys just all use the woods). Other than that, was a great time! Parking is just by the Organized Camp sites; there really are toilets, even if only one, non-flush toilet per 5 organized group sites; SO many great trails, etc. The regular campsites were FULLY filled with people too, even after Labor Day! :-)
We also took the Guided Mushroom Hike, and it was great! Around 3-4 miles in 4 hours, with a LOT of observation and collection! Photos included in my comment. Also a great treat for all was that in addition to the great Ranger leading the tour, there were also two members of the Philly Mycology Club on the hike too! So between the three of them, this was an informative group! And VERY patient with my kids who asked probably around a thousand questions.
All in all, a GREAT time!
A great state park with scenic trails and swimming available. Very popular area for children to enjoy with their parents.
I live very much nearby this park, and usually come for hiking. However my daughter and I have camped here several times for the quick local getaway.
Have stayed in A and B loops. Many of the campsites are small, and privacy varies. I recommend doing some reconnaissance while you're there to scope out the best sites for subsequent trips. I'd skip the side of B loop that backs up to C loop, not only do you see your neighbors on either side, but also behind you. The back ends of the loops seem to have better privacy.
Our most recent trip we stayed in B25. The site was huge. Excellent for a large tent or multiple smaller ones. Could barely see our neighbors to either side, and the way the parking pad was, our Jeep blocked anyone across the way from seeing us. Downside: poor cell reception, furthest site from bathrooms. Still, id rent this site again.
A loop has better cell reception. Some of the sites in the 40s have better privacy but the spaces are tiny. Have also stayed in A8, which was large but there were no trees between it and A6.
Bathrooms have been clean every time I've been here, and showers have plenty of hot water.
In case of forgetting something, theres a shopping center with walmart, lowes, and a couple fast food options nearby.
Attached pic is from site B25
We stayed at site 18 in Loop A. There is a connector trail nearby that can get you to most of the hiking trails. Site was nice. Bathrooms okay. This is a pet loop so be aware of dogs. Hiking trails in park were a nice challenge.
Absolutely beautiful. Friendly people and well taken care of facilities.
Stunning but make sure you check in with rangers before you go discrete camping
This state park is close to Philly but has some wonderful tent sites. There are also cabins and yurts but they aren’t dog friendly. Lots of nice trails.
Stayed over for one night in early December. Showers and bathrooms were great! If you’re traveling through, there are many places to eat nearby. I’m a women in my thirties traveling alone and I felt very safe here. The honor system of payment at the office makes it really easy to come in late and leave early, make sure you have cash on you as it was unclear If checks were accepted.
Secure, safe, clean bathroom. Had fire pit where we cooked. 90% of the grounds were full of RVs. We were in tents and 10 other families. But all spots were full. Picturesque, family friendly and maxing. They have a pool which will be a fun for kids in summer. Trails to hike and waterbody to kayak. Just an awesome!!
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.