The Insider’s Guide to French Creek State Park

Expert Eric Brown, park operations manager, dishes on spotting fisher cats, hooking largemouth bass, the historic Hopewell Furnace, and more must-do activities at the Elverson, PA park.

Illustrations by Brad Woodard

Drive time from Center City: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Where to start: Take a tour of Hopewell Furnace, an old iron production site from the Revolutionary era. They have great programming there, with self-guided tours of the mansion. It’s a restored village with animals and some apple-picking in the fall.

Where to eat: For lunch, head to Scotts Run Lake. It’s nice, like something out of the Poconos, with trout and largemouth bass. You can get a fishing license online. It doesn’t get pummeled by people like Hopewell Lake does. If you don’t bring a lunch, we do have a pool concession stand that’s popular. They’ve got hamburgers, hot dogs, cheesesteaks, and nice things for the heat, like drinks and popsicles.

Afternoon activity: If you want to get away from it all, head to Millers Point to hike. It’s a neat area, and you get a good sense of the size of the landscape you’re in; you have some elevation changes.

An easy hike: The trails that surround Hopewell Lake and the main pool area. A little marshy, but flat.

Be on the lookout for: We don’t have bears, but we do have raccoons that are intelligent. They can even open up coolers. We have coyotes, but they’re seldom seen. There are red fox and gray fox and fisher cats, a native weasel. They were endangered, but there’s been some recolonizing, and they’re back. They’re actually really cute. We’ve got lots of endangered bird and plant species, but we don’t tell people where they are because of the collectors. Part of our mission here is to preserve the land.

Best time to visit: During the week, especially if you want to use the pool. We’re often at capacity by 11 a.m. on the weekends.

Must-do: Spend the night. We have 200 camping sites, 10 modern cabins, threes cottages and two yurts.

» See also:
21 Ways to Be One With Nature at a Nearby Park This Summer
The Insider’s Guide to Marsh Creek State Park
The Insider’s Guide to Cape Henlopen State Park

Published as “Park It!” in the June 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.