A Hike Along The Scenic And Historic Schuylkill River In Valley Forge

A Hike Along The Scenic And Historic Schuylkill River In Valley Forge

Schuylkill River (23 of 50)
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A doctor visit for a sore shoulder  and a chance to visit my niece took me to King Of Prussia in Montgomery County on Tuesday afternoon.  I was staying at the Springhill Suites By Marriot. It was my first stay in this  town in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I only knew it had a large Shopping Mall  and it was located next to historic Valley Forge National Park.  I chose  this hotel since it was near  the National Park and I planned to drive to the park and do some hiking and exploring  after my 2:30 p.m  doctor visit. 

However, when I checked into my room after my appointment I  looked at the trail maps and noticed that the Schuylkill River  and the Schuylkill River West Trail were located very close to my hotel. So I decided to hike on this trail which would take me into the  National Park.  I walked past a few residences, and    a sewage treatment plant, before reaching the trail.

The trail was paved and continued through disturbed woodlands and  fields with wildflower and small trees.

There were many berries remaining on the invasive bush honeysuckle,

and oriental bittersweet plants. And, there were  a lot of birds in the thickets along the trail feeding on the berries.

There were also large areas where goldenrod  that had grown  along the trail during the Summer.  I thought this would be a great place to see birds in the  Spring and Summer . And I did see  and hear some  bird activity on my walk.

I saw song sparrows, American robins and white-throated sparrows. I only got a photo of this white throated sparrow.  It was late afternoon,  around 4 p.m., and November. I knew the sun would be setting soon so I couldn’t stop to try and photograph the birds.

The trail took me past some   upscale apartment  buildings, If I had to live in the area  this would be my choice . It was secluded  on this remote part of the town.

I soon came   an underpass of a bridge  on busy Highway 422. This wasn’t a quiet hike and the noise  of the traffic was loud and continuous.

Here I saw the Schuylkill River for the first time and the railroad track that runs along it’s banks.

After the underpass  I came to Valley Forge National Park. and the  Sullivan’s Bridge , a pedestrian bridge that spans the Schuylkill River. It is named  after a bridge built by General John Sullivan’s during the Continental Army’s 1777-78 winter encampment at Valley Forge.

I crossed the scenic Schuylkill River, not realizing the role it played during the Revolutionary War.

On the other side of the river was a local park, Beltzwood Park, and a road to the River Trail trailhead.  There were large oak trees growing along the Schuylkill River,

some glowing in  the late afternoon sunshine.

The trail was no longer deserted and I saw a lot of folks biking, hiking, running and walking their dogs on the  trail.

It wasn’t until I had walked about a quarter  mile that the road ended and I came to the actual River Trail. It was a wide dirt road, now covered in fallen leaves and continued under large old oak and sycamore trees. It was a tranquil, beautiful trail.

I no longer heard the roar of  traffic, only the rustling of many gray squirrels, gathering black walnuts and acorns in the leaf liter,

and now, the songs and calls of many birds including American robins, crows, blue jays and a few hairy woodpeckers in the tree tops.

There was an informative sign along the trail telling how this area above the river  the northern defense of General Washington’s troops during the  his stay at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. It was also a major supply route and served as an open warehouse of cattle, supplies and provisions for the troops.

I reflected on troops who served here and whose service led to the birth of our Nation as I watched the sun over the Schuylkill River.

I  continued on the trail and came to some old stone structures. One looked like a house. 

I wondered when they were built and why?

And when where they last occupied?  I wish there was  some information provided at the  structures. 

The  trail was beautiful and I wish I could have continued my hike but the sun was low in the southeastern sky. I had walked out about 1 1/2 miles and, reluctantly, had to return to my hotel.

On the way I saw this hermit thrush near the river.

The rays of the setting sun turned the remaining leaves on the oak, sycamore and beech trees a golden brown.

I watched the setting sun as I crossed over the Schuylkill River and reflected on it’s origins in the Anthracite Coal region where I live.  I never really thought much about the mountain streams and creeks I had hiked would eventually become this beautiful river.

There were still a lot of people on the trail until I crossed the bridge. It again became deserted. I didn’t mind I enjoyed walking alone in the evening twilight,

and I was surprised to find a train was now on the tracks under the Route 422 bridge.

I love trains.

The skies darkened as I finished  my three mile hike.

I returned to my hotel with a desire to learn more about the history of the Schuykill River. now that I had seen how beautiful it is here near Valley Forge. My first memories of the river were seeing it from the Schuylkill Expressway in downtown Philadelphia. It looks a lot different  near Valley Forge. .

I returned to my hotel, quickly showered and changed and had a wonderful evening enjoying dinner and conversation with my niece Cassidy, a promising young attorney. I enjoyed my walk through the streets of King of Prussia and I  hope to return soon. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog webpage with some more photos from my late afternoon  hike. Valley Forge Schuylkill River hike November 14 2023. 

I returned to my room and did some research on the Schuylkill River and it’s role in the Revolutionary War. I also learned how it was the western border of the Lenni Lenape Native Americans and that they roamed the river and it’s tributaries. I soon realized I had hiked on the headwaters of the Little Schuylkill River many times. It originates in streams and creeks  in Kline Township and Ryan Township, the homes of my maternal grandparents.  I felt a connection to this beautiful river and the Native Americans who once  lived here. ( I had just recently discovered, and was listening to, the music of one of them, Jim Beer and The River. Many of his songs are about the Schuylkill River). I hope to learn more about the river and return to finish my hike along it’s banks in Valley Forge.

“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”
― Laura Gilpin





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