5 Secret Spots To Hike, Photograph and Explore
by Amy Johnson, Valley Forge Park Alliance Board President
Valley Forge National Historical Park carries a lot of memories, including those of my family. My husband Kevin and I raised our four children – and countless rescue dogs – in our home on the edge of the park. Our daughter and son-in-law were married in our backyard as hikers on the Mt. Misery Trail shouted congratulations to the newlyweds.
Each trip, each day and each season at Valley Forge brings new vistas. This land has had many lives. Dinosaurs roamed here, Indigenous Peoples from the Lenni Lenape Tribe inhabited this land, our nation was forged here, the Underground Railroad went through here, and industry took hold here.
Now, this sacred land is our gift to preserve and protect. That citizen stewardship is the mission of Valley Forge Park Alliance, a nonprofit, volunteer-led organization dedicated to sharing the park’s past, present and future with the local community and millions of people who visit every year. In 2020, more than 22 million people visited the park.
What are my favorite spots in Valley Forge ? Certainly the new visitors’ center, Washington Memorial Arch and the other places of historical significance. But I also love the more hidden spots. Here are my top five favorites.
Favorite Meditation Spot: A little “hut” is tucked back in the woods just past the Gen. Anthony Wayne Monument. It is peaceful, serene and near the monument dedicated to the Unknown Soldiers who died during the winter encampment. It is a place for me to contemplate the sacrifices that took place here, when our country was in its infancy.
Hidden Gem: Built in 1816, the Maurice Stephens House is a gorgeous, 5-bay farmhouse just off Rte. 23 on the Grand Parade. And, it’s the future home of Valley Forge Park Alliance. We’re in the middle of a fundraising campaign aimed at renovating the house’s dilapidated interior. For now, the interior of the house is closed to visitors, which makes this a lovely and quiet spot.
Best Landscapes: The “golden hour” on the Grand Parade Meadow is my favorite. I like to sit on the wall of the Maurice Stephens House, listen to the bird songs, chapel bells from Washington Memorial Chapel, and watch the setting sun transform the meadow second by second.
Favorite Place For Warm Weather Fun: When my kids were young, we spent hours in Valley Creek looking for fish, splashing around and getting very, very muddy.
Favorite Place for Cold Weather Fun: Snow days were spent under the watchful gaze of General Anthony Wayne (in the form of his monument). As insiders, we knew to get to the sledding hill as soon as was safely possible. The trusty Suburban was full of kids, sleds, snow gear and snacks.
There are many “hidden spots” in the park. I invite you to explore and find your spot. I also invite you to join us at Valley Forge Park Alliance as we continue our mission to preserve and protect our park. As you explore and get to know us, you’ll see that Valley Forge National Historical Park and the Valley Forge Park Alliance are still revolutionary.
Main Line Tonight is a proud supporter of Valley Forge Park Alliance.
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