Valley Forge National Historical Park | RIVER TRAIL

River Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

River Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Length: 3 miles (one way)
Time: 1.5 hours on foot, 30 minutes on bike
Difficulty: Easy

Download the Valley Forge Trail Map (PDF)

The River Trail runs along the north side of the Schuylkill River at Valley Forge National Historical Park (most of the park is south of the river). It is an out-and-back trail with a dirt parking lot on the west side at Pawlings Road and a paved parking lot on the east side at Sullivan’s Lane. The trail is open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. It is gravel and dirt, so don’t try to ride a road bike on it. The River Trail itself is nearly flat, so it is an easy hike or bike ride.

Typical terrain along the River Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Typical terrain along the River Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

While the River Trail follows the Schuylkill River, clear views are rare due to vegetation between the trail and water. There are a few clearings, and in some spots people have made side trails down to the riverbank. However, the trail follows a ridge high above the river, so you’ll have to scurry down a hill to get to the water.

View of the Schuylkill River from the River Trail at Valley Forge

View of the Schuylkill River from the River Trail at Valley Forge

Path down to the Schuylkill River along the River Trail at Valley Forge

Path down to the Schuylkill River along the River Trail at Valley Forge

Two miles into the hike is a stone memorial that marks the site of a bridge built by General John Sullivan’s men during the Continental Army’s 1777-78 winter encampment at Valley Forge. The bridge was destroyed by flood waters the next year. A modern pedestrian bridge over the Schuylkill River on the east side of Valley Forge National Historical Park is named for Sullivan, as is the aforementioned Sullivan’s Lane. If you look behind the marker, you will see a trail heading north that connects to the Schuylkill River Trail.

Stone marker for the location of Sullivan's Bridge from 1777 at Valley Forge

Stone marker for the location of Sullivan’s Bridge from 1777 at Valley Forge

There are a number of side trails that branch off from the River Trail. Three are shown on the Valley Forge National Historical Park trail map: east and west trailheads for the Commissary Trail and the above mentioned connector to the Schuylkill River Trail at the Sullivan’s Bridge marker. However, none are identified with signage, so unless you have a GPS or are very familiar with the area, there’s really no way to know which is which.

Just before coming to the end of the trail at Sullivan’s Lane are the ruins of a stone building. Unfortunately, I have no idea what this used to be.

Building ruins on the River Trail near Sullivan's Lane, Valley Forge National Historical Park

Building ruins on the River Trail near Sullivan’s Lane, Valley Forge National Historical Park

The River Trail ends at Sullivan’s Lane, which is essentially just a long parking lot. Keep on walking or biking for a quarter mile and you’ll come to the Betzwood Picnic Area and a restroom facility near the main highway (Hwy 422).

Sullivan's Lane trailhead for the River Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Sullivan’s Lane trailhead for the River Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

If you want to hike, bike, or even skate a section of the Schuylkill River Trail, there is a trailhead at the Sullivan’s Lane parking lot. The Schuylkill River Trail runs out of Valley Forge National Historical Park, ending 100 miles to the northwest at Frackville and 21 miles to the southeast at Philadelphia.

Start of the Schuylkill River Trail at Valley Forge's Betzwood Picnic Area

Start of the Schuylkill River Trail at Valley Forge’s Betzwood Picnic Area

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Last updated on May 29, 2022
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