French Creek State Park | Outdoorsy

French Creek State Park
Guide

Introduction

What was once a barren land devastated by years of deforestation is now one of Pennsylvania's largest state parks. Looking at French Creek State Park today, you would never know that it was once home to a charcoal furnace that helped fuel America's industrial revolution. Luckily, in the 1930s the land was bought by the federal government and the furnace has since been deemed a National Historic Site. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the park was built and by 1946 it opened its doors. Ever since then, French Creek has been a recreation hotspot for visitors and locals alike. A modern campground entices visitors to stay for a night, or maybe even a week, to enjoy all that the park has to offer.

At just under 8,000 acres, French Creek State Park is full of lakes, forests, and wetlands surrounded by the Schuylkill Highlands. This creates a perfect habitat for flora and fauna to breed. It also makes for some great outdoor recreation activities. Visitors to the park enjoy hiking along 35 miles of trails, boating in the park's two lakes, and practicing their orienteering in the self-guided course. Kids love the swimming pool, and the whole family can have some fun at the disc golf course located on-site. The park remains open all year, and during the colder months, visitors can take advantage of the snow with cross-country skiing, ice skating, and sledding.

No matter what time of year you visit, you will find some RV- and trailer-friendly sites with full hookups available, along with flush toilets and warm showers. So don't waste any more time, pack up the campervan and head to French Creek State Park for an unforgettable vacation.

RV Rentals in French Creek State Park

Transportation

Driving

Just an hour outside of Philadelphia, French Creek State Park is easily accessible from major routes. I-76, US-422, and I-176 are all well maintained and will get you close to the park without any issues. The park has three entrances: one on the east side off of PA-345, and two on the south side off of PA-345 and Hopewell Road. Those navigating large vehicles or towing a trailer should stick to the east side entrance, as the other two present narrow roads with lots of sharp turns and steep inclines.

Once inside the park, roads remain paved and well maintained. These roads will take you to the campgrounds, lakes, and other main areas of interest inside the park. If you plan on visiting the park in the winter, be sure to call ahead or check online to make sure road conditions are manageable in and around the park.

Parking

If you're not staying overnight, additional parking is available near the south entrance, at Hopewell Lake, and off of Shed Road in the north of the park. If you are camping overnight, RVs under 50 feet should have no trouble parking at their designated campsite

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in French Creek State Park

Campsites in French Creek State Park

Reservations camping

Philadelphia / West Chester KOA

For beautiful scenery and easy access to both big-city attractions and amenities in Philadelphia and rural life (and fantastic food and furniture) in Amish country, visit the Philadelphia/West Chester KOA in the Brandywine Valley. History and architecture buffs alike are sure to enjoy visits to Valley Forge as well as the area’s historically significant mansions and gardens. Get wet with water sports or relax at the shores of the winding river. The Philadelphia/West Chester KOA Campground has everything you need for your stay including a playground and pet park, convenience store and gift shop, game room, lodge, miniature golf, and canoe and bike rentals.

Lancaster / New Holland KOA

Stay in the heart of Lancaster County’s famous Amish Country, and enjoy the campground’s gorgeous 10-mile panoramic view of the relaxing countryside and beautiful atmosphere. Spacious pull-through sites are available to accommodate large rigs, and there are also terraced and wooded sites. Nearby attractions include the American Music Theatre, National Toy Train Museum, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. This park also features a dog park, Wi-Fi, cable television, and propane and firewood on-site for purchase.

French Creek State Park Campground

With nearly 200 sites available for tent and RV campers, you'll have no problem finding a spot to park the pop-up and set up camp at French Creek State Park. The campsites are arranged around four loops; A, B, C, and D. All sites are outfitted with picnic tables and fire rings and have restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers located nearby. Guests will also find additional parking, a dump station, and a playground near the campground.

Loops A and D offer the most basic sites, with no hookups of any kind available. Loops B and C both offer electric hookups and ADA-accessible sites. Only Loop C offers full hookups, so reservations are highly recommended if you wish to stay in this loop. Any sites remaining on the day of arrival are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Loop C remains open all year-round, while the other loops are only available from March to January. Only certain sites in Loops B and C are pet-friendly.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

Any unreserved sites become available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Alternate camping

Modern Cabins

If you prefer the modern conveniences and creature comforts while you camp, consider renting one of the park's ten modern cabins. These cabins are situated in the woods on the south side of the park and can sleep up to six people. The cabins are outfitted with a modern kitchen and restrooms, electric heat, and bunk beds. Guests will need to bring their own bedding, dishes, and cookware. Open year-round, the cabins are a great alternative to camping during the cold winter months. Reservations are available up to 11 months in advance.

Camping Cottages

The park also offers three camping cottages located near the campground on the north end of the park. These cottages can sleep up to five, and are equipped with electricity and bunk beds. Outside, guests will find a porch, a picnic table, and a fire ring. The cottages are close to drinking water and restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers. The cottages are available from March through December, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

Yurts

For a unique camping experience, consider renting one of the park's two yurts. The yurts can accommodate up to four people and come equipped with heat and electricity, a cooking stove, a refrigerator, a microwave oven, and a table with chairs. Outside the yurt, guests will find a wooden deck, a picnic table, and a fire ring. Restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers can be found nearby. The yurts are available from April through October, and reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.

Organized Group Tenting

If you are camping with a large group, French Creek State Park has got you covered. The park offers a total of 17 group camping sites; one site can hold up to 60 people, while the remaining sites can each accommodate up to 30. Sites are equipped with fire rings and picnic tables. These group sites are for tent camping only, and reservations must be made in advance. The group sites are available from April through October.

Seasonal activities in French Creek State Park

Off-Season

Hiking

With 35 miles of trails to offer, you won't want to forget to pack your hiking boots along in the Airstream when you visit French Creek State Park. Whether you're looking to get an intense workout or simply reflect in the tranquil nature of the park, there's a trail for you. If you'd like to get a full tour of the park, check out Boone Trail. This six-mile trek leads past all of the park's main attractions and is only open to hikers. For an especially memorable excursion, visit in the autumn when the fall foliage is at its peak.

Mountain Biking

If you're looking to take the trails at French Creek State Park at a faster pace, be sure to bring the bikes along in the motorhome. Although not all trails are open for mountain biking, you'll have over 20 miles to work with. Only advanced riders are recommended to take to the trails, as the rocky terrain makes for a challenge. Riders should note that only trail riding is allowed, and biking is prohibited on camp roads and anywhere south of Park Road.

Winter Sports

French Creek State Park keeps its gates open year-round, so once the snow hits, don't hesitate to pack the campervan up with gear and come have some fun. Visitors of all ages will love the winter activities available at the park. Kids can enjoy sledding on the slope created by the backside of the dam on Scotts Run Lake, and ice fishing and skating are allowed on both lakes once there's a healthy layer of ice. The hiking trails convert to cross-country skiing trails once the snow sticks, and there's no better way to enjoy the unspoiled nature of the park in the wintertime.

Fishing

With two lakes located on-site, French Creek State Park is an angler's paradise. Scotts Run Lake is the smaller of the two and offers 22 acres of great cold water fishing. Trout are stocked in this lake year-round. The larger Hopewell Lake is known for its big bass, but other common catches include northern pike, walleye, and panfish. If you didn't tow a boat along behind the Class B, you can use the ADA-accessible fishing pier in the day-use area.

Hunting

Hunting is allowed at French Creek State Park in certain areas during established seasons. If fact, over 6,000 acres are available for hunting and trapping. Dog training is also allowed at the park from mid-September through March in designated areas. Take aim at a variety of game, from rabbit and turkey to deer and pheasant. If you exhaust all the land at the park, head just three miles southeast to State Game Land 43 for an additional 1,800 acres of hunting ground.

Wildlife Watching

With a vast ecosystem and high-quality resources, its no wonder so many animals chose to make French Creek their home. The park is a critical natural area, so much so that parts of it have received the titles of an important mammal area, an important bird area, and a state park natural area. If you tread lightly along the trails, you may see deer, raccoons, songbirds, and a variety of other small critters. The area has a number of full-time residents, but it is also an important location for migratory birds flying through on their way to warmer places.

In-Season

Horseback Riding

Even though French Creek State Park only has one horseback riding trail, don't let that stop you from bringing your horses to the park. Horseshoe Trail is properly named and is the only equestrian trail in the park. At eight miles in length, you'll go past some of the park's main attractions, including both of the park's lake. If you'd like to continue riding after you've seen the whole park, Horseshoe Trails extends a further 130 miles all the way to the Appalachian Trail near Harrisburg on one end and Valley Forge National Park on the other.

Swimming

Pennsylvania gets hot during the summer months, and you'll be glad to have a reprieve from the heat during your RV vacation to French Creek State Park. Kids and adults alike will love the swimming pool located on the shore of Hopewell Lake. Open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the pool offers scenic views for both swimmers and sunbathers. If you get hungry, a snack bar and picnic area are also located in the pool area. You can be rest ensured that your kids will swim safely with a lifeguard on duty.

Boating

If you prefer to be on the water rather than in it, both Hopewell Lake and the smaller Scotts Run Lake allow boating access during the summer months. Both lakes are equipped with boat launches, and if you didn't tow your own watercraft behind the Sprinter, French Creek State Park offers rentals. Rentals are available on Hopewell Lake from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Boat mooring spaces also available at each lake from April through November.

Orienteering

Affectionately known as the Orienteering Capital of North America by some, French Creek State Park is a great place to learn all about orienteering or to simply brush up on your skills. The park offers a self-guided course available for visitors of any age. The course can be completed in a group or individually with the help of a map and a compass. Orienteering is a great workout for both the mind and the body, and it's also a great way to get the kids out of the motorhome for a few hours!

Disc Golfing

Disc golf fanatics and newbies alike can enjoy the on-site disc golf course at French Creek State Park. The course is located in the wooded area near Hopewell Lake and is a popular place for both park visitors and locals. Score cards and maps are available at the course, but you'll need to bring your own discs along in the Class A if you hope to enjoy the course during your time at the park.

Hopewell Furnace

The history buffs in your group will love the Hopewell Furnace. Long before French Creek State Park existed, this area was logged to create charcoal for the furnace. The Hopewell Furnace was fundamental for producing iron for the country from the late 1700s through the 1800s, so much so that it has since been dubbed a National Historic Site. Located just across from the park, you can visit the furnace and learn more about its history. During the summer months, historical interpreters can be seen walking around the area, offering their knowledge about the furnace and the forest.

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