Hopewell Lake Loop Trail perfect easy hike to take in the fall colors [column] | Outside

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Straddling the line separating northern Chester County from southern Berks County, French Creek State Park covers a hair under 8,000 acres.

When you add the adjacent Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, State Game Lands 43 and Natural Lands Crow’s Nest Preserve, you have just over 13,000 acres of public forest land available to explore 50 minutes from downtown Lancaster .

It is the largest contiguous forest between New York and Washington, D.C.

As part of our ongoing and occasional series highlighting local hiking destinations within a short drive of Lancaster, this week we’re focusing on the Hopewell Lake Loop Trail in French Creek State Park.

Normally I highlight strenuous multi-mile hikes that involve elevation gains and losses over several hours.

But let’s be honest.

Sometimes it’s nice to go out for an easy walk to see some great scenery.

That’s what you get with the Hopewell Lake Loop Trail.

It is only 2 miles long.

And it’s all on level ground as it wraps around 68-acre Lake Hopewell.

Right now this trail is absolutely on fire with fall colors.

The State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ annual fall foliage projection currently indicates that the Southeast is still two to three weeks away from peak colors.

But a visit to French Creek State Park last week showed poplars, dogwoods, hickories and maples ablaze in red, yellow and orange.

Really, only the oaks still seemed to hold the green.

If you like fall colors, I wouldn’t wait three weeks. I would head to French Creek sooner rather than later.

As mentioned, the Hopewell Lake Loop Trail takes you all around Lake Hopewell.

Park in the lot at the west end of the lake near Park Road.

Then just start hiking clockwise around the lake or counter clockwise.

The trail doesn’t have constant blazes the whole way, but the path through the forest is pretty clear.

(Just keep the lake to your right if going clockwise, or to your left if going counter-clockwise, and it’s impossible to get lost.)

There are myriad places along the loop trail where you can go to the water’s edge to snap photos of the fall colors reflecting off the lake, or watch the ducks paddling through the receding lily pads or anglers casting lines in search of bass and pike.

If you have a kayak or canoe, bring it. Hopewell Lake is a great place for leisurely paddling.

With over 35 miles of trails criss-crossing the property, there are plenty of hiking options in French Creek State Park if you want something more strenuous than a 2-mile loop around a lake.

But not everyone wants that. If you have young kids, tired knees, or just not much time, this loop trail is great for getting out and looking at the water.

Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist from New York, was quoted in the article “Why being near water could be the key to boosting happiness, according to science”, published by RealSimple.com, saying: “Plans of water have a dreamlike effect. quality for them, just like the clouds.

“Just looking at water allows our mind to be calm and peaceful.”

Add to that some brilliant fall foliage and you have the ingredients for a great day outdoors.

PJ Reilly is NL | Outdoor Writer LancasterOnline. Email him at [email protected]

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