Valley Forge National Historical Park | VALLEY CREEK TRAIL

Southern trailhead for the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge

Southern trailhead for the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge

Length: 1 mile
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Download the Valley Forge Trail Map (PDF)

The Valley Creek Trail is located on the southwest side of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The best place to start the hike is at the Yellow Creek Parking Lot on Wilson Road (on the weekends this will be packed with cars by 10 AM). A short, paved path called the Yellow Springs Trail runs from the parking lot to the gravel Valley Creek Trail just .3 mile away. You can also get to the Valley Creek Trail from the northwest side of the park at Washington’s Headquarters by starting out on the Horse-Shoe Trail.

Start of the Yellow Springs Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Start of the Yellow Springs Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

The Valley Creek Trail is an out-and-back trail, so if you don’t want to see the same things twice, it’s best to form some sort of loop hike with other trails in the park. I made a loop with a section of the Horse-Shoe Trail and all of the Mount Misery Trail.

Both hikers and bikers are allowed on the Yellow Springs and Valley Creek trails, but if you plan to do the loop with the Horse-Shoe and Mount Misery trails, you must walk because no bikes are allowed. From the Yellow Springs Parking Lot, take the paved Yellow Springs Trail to the end. It follows Wilson Road back to Yellow Springs Road, then turns northeast. The intersection with the Mount Misery Trail is just a quarter mile from the parking lot. My plan was to hike out on the Valley Creek Trail and return on the Mount Misery Trail, so I skipped past this intersection and continued another 150 yards to where the Yellow Springs Trail ends at the start of the Valley Creek Trail. You can’t miss it because there is a covered bridge at the intersection.

Knox Covered Bridge spans Valley Creek at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Knox Covered Bridge spans Valley Creek at Valley Forge National Historical Park

A covered bridge has spanned Valley Creek at this location since 1851. Since then, bridges have been washed away by floods and damaged by fire. The current bridge was built in 1958. The earliest of the bridges were known as the Valley Forge Dam Bridge, but starting in the early 20th century people started calling it the Knox Bridge. There were two famous Knoxes in this area, but most likely the bridge got its modern name from Senator Philander Knox, the man who bought the property next to the bridge in 1901. Others speculate that the bridge took its name from General Henry Knox, who was stationed in this area during the Valley Forge encampment of 1777-78. There is no relation between the two men.

View of the Knox Covered Bridge from the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

View of the Knox Covered Bridge from the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

From here until the Mount Misery Trail intersection, the Valley Creek Trail sticks closely to the creek. On the other side of the creek is Highway 252, so you are never out of earshot of traffic noise.

Valley Creek Trail follows Valley Creek for most of its length, Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Creek Trail follows Valley Creek for most of its length, Valley Forge National Historical Park

After .4 mile of hiking on the Valley Creek Trail, you will reach the intersection with the Wolfinger Trail. This is a short trail that cuts over to the Mount Misery Trail, so if you want a shorter loop hike, this is the way to go. Just prior to the official Wolfinger Trail (if you are hiking north as I was) is a narrow trail with no identification signage. This is just a shortcut to the Wolfinger Trail. The official trailhead is 50 feet ahead and is identified with a sign. Nearly all official trails at Valley Forge National Historical Park have signs at the trailhead.

Wolfinger Trail at the Valley Creek Trail intersection, Valley Forge National Historical Park

Wolfinger Trail at the Valley Creek Trail intersection, Valley Forge National Historical Park

Just beyond the Wolfinger Trail is an information panel that marks the site of the Upper Iron Forge at Valley Forge. The first iron forge on Valley Creek began operating around 1742. By 1777 there were two forges, the newer Upper Forge and the original Lower Forge, which was located downstream, closer to Washington’s Headquarters. Neither exists today. (Historians have differing opinions as to which was the original forge and which was the new forge, and some argue that the new forge was built after the American Revolution.)

A couple minutes farther down the Valley Creek Trail is a dam. The trail is high above the creek at this point, but there is a side trail that leads down to the water. There were a few dams on Valley Creek when the iron forges and grist mills were in operation, but most have been destroyed over time. In regards to the dam along the Valley Creek Trail, while a dam has most likely been on this spot since the forges were first built, the current structure is a renovation from the late 1800s / early 1900s. I did some research online, but all I found were old postcards for sale that called it the Old Forge Dam. Today it is referred to as the Valley Creek Dam.

The Valley Creek Trail passes above a dam on Valley Creek, Valley Forge National Historical Park

The Valley Creek Trail passes above a dam on Valley Creek, Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Creek Dam at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Creek Dam at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Creek Dam at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Creek Dam at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Being gravel, there’s not much more to report about the Valley Creek Trail other than to say it is easy to hike. While not flat, any hills are nominal, and most come north of the dam.

Typical terrain on the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Typical terrain on the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

It is one mile from the covered bridge to the Horse-Shoe Trail, which is where the Valley Creek Trail ends. The Valley Forge National Historical Park trail map shows the section of trail from here to Valley Forge Road / Highway 23 as colored green. Since the Valley Creek Trail is also green on the map, it makes it look as if it’s the Valley Creek Trail that continues to the road. This is not the case. The segment is green simply to signify that bikes are allowed on it. The trail segment itself is the Horse-Shoe Trail. I hiked to the road, and trail signs confirm this. There is also a stone marker at the road that commemorates the start of the Horse-Shoe Trail. Thus, the Valley Creek Trail is officially 1 mile long, not 1.5 miles as reported on the map.

Stone marker commemorates the start of the Horse-Shoe Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Stone marker commemorates the start of the Horse-Shoe Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

See the Horse-Shoe Trail review here on National Park Planner for information about the short segment of this trail that I hiked.

Horse-Shoe Trail at the intersection with the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

Horse-Shoe Trail at the intersection with the Valley Creek Trail at Valley Forge National Historical Park

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Last updated on August 4, 2022
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