|French Creek State Park's old growth is largest stretch from D.C. to NYC|
|Prepped for a hot summer day on the trail at French Creek State Park|
Enjoy this gentle walk in the woods, as it is a nice way to begin your hike and it only gets more strenuous from here. As you reach a confluence of streams at the bottom of the hill, keep your eyes peeled for the red-blazed Raccoon Trail. Now, get ready for a bit of cardio.
|At the Lenape - Racoon junction near Baptism Creek, Hopewell Furnace|
If you take the original turn off from the Lenape Trail, you will make your way up a sloping hill on the red-blazed Raccoon Trail past some ruins that are part of the Hopewell Furnace Historic Site. (These are the same ruins mentioned in the tip above.) Watch for trail signs and stick with the red blazes as you reach the northern border of the Hopewell Furnace site, where you will notice the Raccoon Trail turns left as the route you're on turns into the Buzzards Trail. You could take the Buzzards trail for a longer hike. Or continue making your way up hill on the Raccoon Trail to follow this recommended route.
|Raccoon Trail cuts the powerline throughway, choked with greenbrier|
|Raccoon's red and Mill Creek's red-and-white blazes join the trails briefly|
As the Raccoon Trail comes to an end you will have finally reached Mill Creek, a great place to sit on a big boulder and have lunch by the babbling brook. Rest a while and enjoy the scenery, for the next half of your hike is more strenuous than the first.
|The author - fit blogger Brian - at Mill Creek|
|The final ascent of Chestnut Hill along the Mill Creek Trail|
|Don't track seeds of invasives home with you - brush those boots!|
Here are all the important stats you'll need to enjoy your day hiking the French Creek State Park, Chestnut Hill - Mill Creek Loop:
Trailhead: You can reach French Creek State Park from the south via Pennsylvania Turnpike Exit 298 (Morgantown) or from the north by taking turning south onto State Road 345 from Federal Highway 422. Find the trailhead on Shed Road near the intersection of Rt. 345 in French Creek State Park, just north of the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Distance: Between 5 and 6 miles (This is an estimate based on the park maps and trail length information. I will update this with a more accurate measure soon.)
Elevation Gain/Loss: 900 feet
Map: Maps are available online from French Creek State Park and Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.
Hiking Time: 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on personal hiking speed and dawdling factor
Best Times to Hike: This is a great year-round hike, but best times are most probably spring and fall, as with any hike in the Pennsylvania woods.