Once an industrial complex for the fledgling United States of America, today French Creek State Park is an oasis for people and wildlife. Straddling the Schuylkill Highlands, the 7,730-acre park is the largest block of contiguous forest between Washington D.C. and New York City.
The forests, lakes, wetlands, and fields are a destination for the people of southeast Pennsylvania to hike, fish, camp, and bike.
Those same habitats are homes to many animals and plants that are rare in this corner of the commonwealth. 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.
Hiking at French Creek State Park
35 miles of trails
More than 35 miles of well-marked trails cover a large portion of the park’s 7,916 acres. Hikers at French Creek have a wide variety of opportunities for quiet reflection, nature study, and physical challenge. Trailhead parking is located in many convenient areas.
6 miles, blue blazes, more difficult hiking
This loop trail connects all major attractions of French Creek, making it an excellent route to see the park. Start your trip at Hopewell Lake Boat Launch parking lot, Group Tenting Areas 13-18, campground contact station, or Hopewell Furnace Visitor Center (using connector trails). Several portions are steep and rocky, so wear sturdy shoes. It is closed to mountain bikes around Hopewell Lake.
3 miles, yellow blazes with red stripe, more difficult hiking
Branching off of Raccoon and Mill Creek trails, this trail passes through the Baptism Creek drainage area in the eastern portion of the park.
130 miles (8 miles in the park), yellow blazes, more difficult hiking
For hikers and horseback riders, this trail touches highlights of the park including Hopewell Lake and Scotts Run Lake. Horseshoe Trail runs 130 miles from Valley Forge to the Appalachian Trail near Harrisburg. This is the only equestrian trail in the park.
1 mile, purple blazes, more difficult hiking
This mountainside trail provides a pleasant experience through mature forests with scattered mountain laurel. Kalmia is the Latin word for laurel. Mountain biking is prohibited.
5.5 miles, green blazes, more difficult hiking
Begin this hike from the campground contact station, Scotts Run Lake, Hopewell Furnace Visitor Center, or PA 345/Shed Road. Follow the solid green blazes to stay on Lenape Trail or venture off onto one of the many blazed trails that intersect this enjoyable trail.
Mill Creek Trail
6 miles, white blazes with a red stripe, most difficult hiking
Once leaving the trailhead at Shed Road and PA 345, you will not cross another road on this backcountry-type loop trail. Be sure to carry water and wear proper clothing and footwear. Consider using Raccoon and Lenape trails to add some variety for your return trip.
1.7 miles, red blazes, more difficult hiking
This trail serves as the most direct route into and out of the eastern portion of French Creek State Park. It starts 0.25 mile east of Hopewell Furnace’s main gate and ends at Mill Creek.
Six Penny Trail
3 miles, orange blazes, more difficult hiking
This trail offers visitors a glimpse of the historic Six Penny Recreation Area where dam ruins and the park's original picnic grounds can be seen. Use the connector trail (orange blazes with a green stripe) from the intersection of Boone and Lenape trails west of the campground to get to this loop trail. Most of this trail is closed to mountain bikes.
3.6 miles - white blazes - more difficult hiking
Circling through the western portion of French Creek, this trail offers a variety of easy hiking mixed with several challenging sections. Park in the lot along Firetower Road and follow the white blazes in either direction.
Please stay on blazed trails
Double blazes indicate a change of direction in the trail
Camping is only permitted in French Creek's established campgrounds
Horses are permitted on the Horse-shoe Trail, and on the right berm of public roads (except in overnight areas)
Motorized vehicles are prohibited on any park trails
Mountain bikes are permitted on roads and approved trails only
All trails south of Park Road are closed to bikes
Picnicking at French Creek State Park
Picnic tables are located throughout the park with a picnic area and restroom facilities by each lake.
Picnicking near Hopewell Lake offers easy access to a peaceful place for a family picnic.
This activity or structure is ADA accessible.
Stay the Night at French Creek State Park
flush toilets, warm showers, some electric hook-ups
The campsites are within easy access to shower and flush toilet facilities.
Of the campground's 200 sites, camping is available year-round at 47 sites and seasonally at the rest.
More than 60 sites have electric hookups and more may be added in the future.
Some sites have full service hook up, which includes:
Pets are permitted in C Loop only.
Swimming at French Creek State Park
Swimming is offered at the swimming pool by Hopewell Lake, from 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M., from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, unless otherwise posted. The pool is near the shore of the lake and provides a beautiful setting for swimmers and sunbathers.
Wildlife Watching at French Creek State Park
The heavily forested, scenic hills of French Creek State Park provide habitat for plants and animals in the ever-expanding urban environment of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Large oak, poplar, hickory, maple, and beech trees cover much of the park, with a sparse understory of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and other brushy plants. Wetlands and pristine streams flowing through rich, damp creek valleys offer additional habitats for plants and animals.
This large, diverse environment supports many animals that take advantage of the high-quality resources found at French Creek. Observant visitors might see:
Numerous other small animals and birds
The park is an Important Mammal Area as designated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The park sustains good populations of resident birds and animals, but also serves as an important stop for migratory species using the woodlands, streams, lakes, and wetlands for food and cover. The park is an Important Bird Area designated by the National Audubon Society.
Boating at French Creek State Park
Electric motors permitted
Boat launching is provided at the 68-acre Hopewell Lake and the 22-acre Scotts Run Lake.
Seasonal boat mooring spaces are available from April 1 to November 1 at each lake. Contact the park office for mooring information.
Fishing at French Creek State Park
Scotts Run Lake
This 22-acre coldwater lake offers excellent trout and other coldwater species fishing. Hatchery-raised trout are stocked pre-season, during the season, and in the winter.
Sixty-eight acres of prime water presents a challenge for anglers. This lake is designated as a big bass lake and specific regulations apply.
Common species are:
This activity or structure is ADA accessible. A fishing pier for people with disabilities is in the day use area.
A fishing license is required for people age 16 and over.
Ice fishing is permitted at both lakes.
Ice thickness is not monitored.
Hunting at French Creek State Park
The combination of habitats at French Creek offers a variety of hunting opportunities. During established seasons, more than 6,000 acres are open to:
Training of dogs
Common game species are:
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas.
Mountain Biking at French Creek State Park
20 miles of trails
Mountain bike riders enjoy the more than 20 miles of trails that climb hills, cross streams, and pass through forests.
The trails explore most parts of the park and are rated difficult riding due to the rocky terrain.
Mountain bikes are prohibited south of Park Road and in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Horseback Riding at French Creek State Park
Horse-shoe Trail winds through the park and into adjacent lands.
The trail runs 140 miles from Valley Forge National Historic site to the Appalachian Trail near Harrisburg.
Horses are prohibited on other park trails.
Disc Golfing at French Creek State Park
The course winds through the woods by Hopewell Lake. This activity attracts visitors of all ages, year round.
Sometimes referred to as Frisbee golf, disc golf is a favorite sport for individuals and families. The challenge of tossing a flying disc through the woods is unmatched by any other sport.
Friendly, local enthusiasts are always willing to give advice to first-time golfers.
Score cards and maps are available at the course.
Sledding at French Creek State Park
The backside of the dam at Scotts Run Lake is popular for sledding.
Cross-Country Skiing at French Creek State Park
All hiking trails and open areas of the park can be skied with proper snow cover.
Ice Skating at French Creek State Park
The natural ice of the lakes can be skated when conditions permit.