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