Valley Forge: A Much Too Short A Visit To Such A Historic Place

Valley Forge: A Much Too Short A Visit To Such A Historic Place

George Washington on horse
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I was in the Philadelphia suburbs  this past weekend, attending some Christmas shows with family and had a few free hours on Sunday morning.  Looking for someplace to hike, I decided to visit a park which played a crucial role in our Nation’s history.  It was in second or third grade that I first learned about how General George Washington and his troops endured the hardships of Winter at Valley Forge.tree lined visitor center

I have driven to Philadelphia countless times over the years and had always planned to visit this National Park, and I finally had the opportunity on Sunday.  The park is located about 20 miles from  central Philadelphia. It was cloudy and cold when I arrived at the park.  I first stopped at the  visitor center to learn a little about the history and layout of the park. tree lined visitor center at Valley Forge

I learned from the very helpful staff that there were a number of  automobile routes and hiking  trails in the park. I spent about a half hour reviewing the very informative exhibits about  Washington’s encampment in the Winter of 1777/1778. exhibits and displays at visitor center

There were also many displays of historical artifacts from encampment and the Revolutionary War. I could have spent many hours at the visitors center but I only had a few hours  available and so set out for a quick hike through the park grounds. Revolutionary war rifles on display

I left the parking area and followed what I thought was the trail to Washington’s headquarters.  I walked along the road and immediately noticed the large ancient trees, many of them oak that are found throughout the park. tree lined trail at Valley Forge

I love to see old trees and enjoy walking near them. I also found a few critters that also enjoy them, such as this squirrel, squirrel with nut in tree

and this large hawk that I saw flying overhead. I followed him and was able to capture this photograph of it in one of the large trees. hawk in tree

At first I thought I was on the Joseph Plumb Martin trail but didn’t recognize any of the landmarks on the map. It wasn’t until I saw the National Memorial Arch that I realized I was on a different trail,  County Line Road. National memorial arch at valley forge

I wasn’t disappointed since it was a nice walk and I loved the old trees and scenery. old leafless tree on trail in Valley Forge

I knew I would not have enough time to see all of the sights so I decided to turn onto Gulph road head toward the sight of Washington’s permanent headquarters near the Schuylkill River. Tre lined Gulph road in Valley Forge

I was amazed at the size of many of the red oaks trees along this road and imagined that some of them may have towered over the troops stationed here that cold Winter in  Valley Forge at the founding of our Nation. Here is a link to some  photographs fro my hike. Valley Forge hike part onelarge red oak tree

I walked up a trail to an artillery park where the small cannons used in the Revolutionary war were centrally located in anticipation of a British attack. Fortunately the attack never came.Revolutionary war cannon

Washington spent the Winter training the inexperienced young army and, although they endured many hardships, emerged as a much better fighting force in the Spring. There were replicas of the troops cabins scattered about in this area of the Valley Forge park. 

After inspecting some of the huts and cabins I realized i would not have time to visit the permanent headquarters of General Washington. I had to settle for this monument which marks the locations of the temporary tent headquarters when Washington first marched to Valley Forge. 

As I made my way to the Joseph Plumb Martin trail, I encountered many other folks enjoying the history, natural beauty and scenery of the park on this cool December morning. I  can only imagine how beautiful it is in the Spring and Summer. 

Along the way I came upon this old building at the entrance to an old cemetery .

I stopped in to take a quick peek  at the cemetery and I hope to return to explore this ancient burial ground. 

I finally passed the beautiful Washington Memorial Chapel and again was unable to visit for lack of time. 

The trail back to the visitor center parking lot ran along a busy highway but was still lined with ancient trees. I know it was a short visit to such an important place in our Nation’s history , and this post does not do it  justice, but I hope to return soon for a longer, and more intense exploration of this landmark in our history. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Valley Forge part two. tree lined road Valley Forge

“Our Men have all got comfortably covered in their Huts and Better quarters are not in the World…” Tench Tilghman to John Cadwalader, Valley Forge, 18 January 1778wood casbin at Valley Forge