The Insider’s Guide to Marsh Creek State Park

Expert Lexi Zimbicki, assistant park manager, with the scoop on the 500-plus-acre lake, the White Trail, horseback riding, and more must-do activities at the Downingtown, PA park.

Illustrations by Brad Woodard

Drive time from Center City: 1 hour

Where to start: On the 500-plus-acre lake. There are hundreds of boats to rent — sailboats, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes. There are tours where you go out for an hour on a pontoon boat and get the history of the park — great if it’s your first time here. The lake used to be a farming town called Milford Mills back in the 1950s, but it kept flooding, so in 1974, it was dammed and made into a lake. You can see the foundations of the buildings that existed.

Cool off: The pool opens around 10:30 or 11 — you aren’t allowed to swim in the lake. The pool is huge, about half an acre. There’s a splash area for the kids and two snack stands with things like pizza and ice cream. There’s also a great little deli called Montesano Brothers nearby.

Where to picnic: The Point, right across from the park office, has great views of the lake, and you can watch people fish from the shore.

Afternoon activity: Ride horses on the trails on the west side. Hope Springs Farm runs guided rides.

When to go: Marsh Creek is busy. On Sundays, we hit parking capacity. It’s less busy during the week, but everything is still open. We don’t have camping, but plan to spend the entire day — we open at 8 a.m. You could spend a week here and still not do everything!

My favorite hiking trail: The White Trail. Park near the west-side boat launch. You’ll walk near the shoreline over to the dam, through agricultural fields, and back to the horse farm. It’s a good trail for families, since it’s only two miles and flat. It’s good for wearing the kids out!

Be on the lookout for: Bald eagles. And we have a lot of cool waterfowl, like blue herons. You can borrow binoculars and educational backpacks with information on birds and insects and reptiles at the park office.

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

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