|Porcupine Mountains||Horse-Shoe Trail||Loyalsock Trail|
|Black Forest Trail||Knobstone Trail||Turkey Run|
Revised April 25, 2001
Location, History, and General Information
The Horse-Shoe Trail is located in southeastern Pennsylvania, running from Valley Forge National Park in suburban Philadelphia to the Appalachian Trail north of Harrisburg and Hershey. At the Philadelphia end, the trail begins on the south side of PA Route 23 at the bridge crossing Valley Creek, immediately west of the intersection with PA Route 252. Parking is available in Valley Forge National Park, at Washington's Headquarters off Route 23, 0.2 mile east of Route 252. The trail covers a distance of 139.9 miles through five counties, and there are numerous access points. Detailed information about the Horse-Shoe Trail is found in the trail guide, which is the source of the information in the following paragraph. In addition to trail directions including mileage, descriptions, and topo maps, the guide describes road access, points of interest, camping and lodging, stables, and groceries. Additional information is available from: Horse-Shoe Trail Club, Inc., P.O. Box 182, Birchrunville, PA 19421-0182.
The Horse-Shoe Trail is a public trail for hiking and horseback riding. It begins at Valley Forge and continues westward for over 130 miles to its junction with the Appalachian Trail on the crest of Stony Mountain north of Hershey. It is marked by painted yellow blazes. The history of the trail area is closely related to the development of the iron industry in this part of Pennsylvania during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
NOTE: The trail guide described on our pages is the Twentieth Edition, August, 1996, an 80+ page booklet with a yellow paperback cover. The mileages and routes we describe are based on this trail guide, and may not match current information as the trail is rerouted from time to time. The Club described above always has current information. The most recent guide (of which we know) is the 21st edition (1999).
Our Hiking Experiences
encounter with the Horse-Shoe Trail occurred on a visit to Valley Forge
National Park in Spring, 1992. We were participating in a park program
in which a ranger led a short walk in the vicinity of Valley Creek, and
we passed the marker indicating the beginning of the trail and actually
hiked along a short segment of it. Mike had seen the trail indicated on
an official state road map but did not realize this was the actual
where it began. On three other occasions later that year, we hiked
of the trail covering the first four miles in Chester County, as far as
For the next few years, we concentrated on hiking the Loyalsock Trail in north central Pennsylvania. The next time we hiked the Horse-Shoe Trail was as a family of three, with our one-year-old daughter Maria, in October, 1996. After completing the Loyalsock Trail in November, 1996, Aimee bought trail guides for the Black Forest Trail and Horse-Shoe Trail to put in Mike's Christmas stocking that year.
In early 1997, we continued hiking segments of the Horse-Shoe Trail in the vicinity of French Creek State Park, near the border of Chester and Berks Counties, and by the spring of 1998, we had worked our way back through Chester County to Howell Road. This meant we had completed a 40-mile connected segment of the trail in Chester and Berks Counties, and we had completed an additional mile in western Lancaster County as part of another hiking trip.
Unfortunately, from the standpoint of completing the trail, we moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana in July, 1998. Although it is unlikely we will be able to hike many additional segments of the trail in the near future, much less complete it, the 41 miles we did complete are only exceeded by our hiking mileage in Michigan's Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, and on the Loyalsock and Black Forest Trails in north central Pennsylvania and the Knobstone Trail in southeastern Indiana, all of which we have completed. As we complete this site, we will be adding pages to describe our experiences along individual segments of the trail. Please return to follow our progress.
Other Horse-Shoe Trail Information & Resources
A rather complete site by a Horse-Shoe Trail club member including a description of the trail, maps, information on the Horse-Shoe Trail Club and official trail guide, and links to points of interest along the trail.
Not an "official" site but better than many that are!
Horse-Shoe Trail Review -- A review of the trail submitted to thebackpacker.com website
50 Hikes in Eastern Pennsylvania : From the Mason-Dixon Line to the Poconos and North Mountain, by Tom Thwaites -- Includes descriptions and information about several hikes on the Horse-Shoe Trail
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