French Creek State Park, Phoenixville, PA

This is the third in my series state park reviews (see entries from June 3, 2017 and June 14, 2018). These are my perspectives on camping:

  • I’m a car/tent camper.
  • I camp with a group, ranging up to 35 people on, say, 10 sites.
  • My group is multigenerational.

Thanks, JM, for selecting French Creek and getting us organized!

I camped at French Creek several times in the past, and I’ve sometimes lauded it as “State Park Heaven”. Yes, it really is THAT GOOD! I first awarded that accolade when my kids were small. Instead of beach swimming, French Creek offers a pool. It’s big and beautifully designed, with lots of shallow water where kids play happily. The pool area is surrounded by grass and then a fence, decreasing the chance of a child wandering off. (Camping with kids poses ALL KINDS of challenges, but is usually worth it.) Because of the pool, those camping trips were the only times I ever brought kids home CLEAN. Wow!

We’ve never used a “group” campsite. They don’t have flush toilets. ‘Nuff said…

This year we were located on a “pet friendly” campsite loop, which made sense. Some years, our group has included dogs, maxing out at SEVEN one time! As it happened, none this year. Many of the sites near us had electrical hookups, which means (for the uninitiated) that campers could power up their huge, giant RV campers and go wild, enjoying all the comforts of home (air conditioning, sound systems, etc.) We felt out of touch with the surrounding culture, which included a light show projected up into the trees, and, on one site, a four by six foot screen showing NATURE SPECIALS. Like WILD PLANET. No kidding.

A camper always worries a little about noise, especially in the morning. Which will it be – children, dogs, rap music, someone who can’t resist chopping wood? No wood chopping this year, and babies/children not a problem. But the dogs! The first morning we heard only the occasional bark. But the second morning ONE DOG disrupted us repeatedly beginning around 6:30. My husband described it as the William Tell Overture of Barking, and began fantasizing about the Lizzie Borden school of conflict resolution. We restrained ourselves. So did everyone else! The third morning, all was quiet.

I offer the following advice to those who camp with dogs: if you can’t quiet your pet in the early hours, put it in the car and GO AWAY. Drive to the nearest Wawa, buy a coffee and CHILL. Come back after 8 am. Or put your dog on a leash and take a long walk. Be a good neighbor! (Goodness, I once resorted to putting my CHILD in the stroller and taking a 6 am walk…)

So what’s good about French Creek in addition to the pool? There are so many miles of well marked trails. And next door is Hopewell Village National Historic Site, both educational and entertaining.

We were thrilled to learn that the Natural Lands Trust has opened a new area near the French Creek called Crow’s Nest Preserve, with MORE trails and abundant natural wonders. Pennsylvania offers so many opportunities to be outdoors that, even on a peak weekend, you generally don’t feel crowded.

The final benefit is that French Creek is only two hours from home, and the trip takes us against the current of shore traffic. Easy!

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