Thursday, September 4, 2014

Peace Valley Park

Date of Hike: Monday, September 1, 2014
Total Distance: 11.97 Miles
Avg speed:  2.29MPH
Avg moving speed:  2.5MPH
Moving Time: 4:46:55
Total Time:  5:13:45
Conditions: Mostly Cloudy, 85 Degrees
Difficulty: Easy

This past weekend was a bit tough on the schedule since it was a holiday and the weather was a bit on the unstable side but I finally managed it make it out on Monday. This time, I went to Peace Valley Park in Doylestown since it was close to home and there was a possibility of bad weather. I didn't want to drive a long distance to get stuck out in a thunderstorm and end up having to turn back home.

I ended up 0.03 miles short of 12. Had I known this, I would have walked around my car a few times or something!

Approximate address:
408 Creek Road
Doylestown, PA 18901
GPS:  40.3189167,-75.1918917

This address is one of several parking lots located throughout the park.

The parking lot I chose was where the boat launch is located. If you're into boating, you can rent one there or if you own one, bring it along. 

My first view of Lake Galena

The primary trail at Peace Valley Park is paved.  If you're looking to find the side trails, be sure to download a copy of the trail map from their website (more on this a little later). Note that it looks small when you look at it through their website but when you print it, it fits nicely on a regular sheet of paper and is legible. You can also obtain another trail map from but it doesn't show any of the unpaved trails.

I took the first opportunity I could find to get off the paved trail. 

These trails are not as commonly used so they're a bit overgrown. It had rained overnight and the greenery was wet so my legs got pretty wet in the process of walking these trails. Be sure to wear long pants. I did note there was poison ivy throughout these trails so be wary if you're wearing shorts and avoid them if you are.

These are the remains of what used to be the end of Old Limekiln Road. From what it looks like on Google Maps, it used to run right up to the lake but has since been blocked off. 

According to the trail map, there are supposed to be a few trail heads off Old Limekiln Road but unfortunately, I was unable to find them. I walked up the road a good distance, looked for trail markers or even a trail head and found nothing. I headed back down Old Limekiln Road back towards the lake and continued east to the next parking lot where there was supposed to be yet another trail head. Much to my frustration, I couldn't find that one either.  According to the map, there were some areas on those trails that I was looking forward to checking out so it was a bit of a bummer. The trails I'm referring to are the Farm Pond Trail, Old Horse Trail, Rosa Lane and Long Lane. I didn't try approaching them from the opposite side (off Limekiln Road) so I don't know if they still exist or if the entrances I was looking for were just overgrown. Perhaps if I return to the park, I'll see if I can find them again.

Just like Old Limekiln Road, the next street heading down towards Lake Galena (Limekiln Road) is also blocked off as you get closer to the lake. Again, in hopes of finding an unpaved trail, I headed up the hill to see what I could find. 

Just alongside the blocked off portion of Limekiln Road, this sign was in the woods about 20 feet in. I checked the area out some but couldn't find the actual trail although bushwhacking would have been easy if I decided to go looking for it.  

View looking down Limekiln Road back towards Lake Galena

Before I got to the above signs, I had passed a trail head so I at least knew I'd be able to get off the pavement for a while. There's supposed to be two trail heads off Limekiln Road which I would assume the second one was there, it was just tough to spot so I doubled back to the one that was more clearly defined. Most of the trails in this area are pretty well kept and easy to traverse. This one is called the Ochre Trail.

One of very few trail markers I saw throughout the park

Walking through the Wetlands Loop, I came across these ruins. I haven't researched them yet but if I do, I'll update this post as I am curious about what they might have been at one time.

Update - May 8, 2015: A reader recently provided me with information on what these remains are from, please see the comments section below. I had done quite a bit of research trying to figure out what they were but was never able to find anything. Thank you for your insight! 

There weren't a lot of trail markers but in this area, there were enough signs to tell you where you were.

As I was approaching Chapman Road, I saw this building in the distance. It turns out it's in one of the parking lots for Peace Valley Park

On my way out of the parking lot on Chapman Road, I saw this poster. I wish the picture would have come out better. It always makes me sad to see someone has lost their pet. I hope they have already found them!

I crossed over Chapman Road and headed down the Morning Bird Walk trail. Again, most of them were in good shape.

Morning Bird Walk and Upper Woods Trail intersecting

Once on the Upper Woods Trail, you could see the North Branch of Neshaminy Creek

I thought this was pretty cool looking. A lot of the roots of this tree were exposed making it look like it was ready to fall over. I'm guessing over time, erosion has exposed them.

Somewhere in this area, the Upper Woods Trail comes to an end but the trail alongside the North Branch Neshaminy Creek keeps going. I followed it for a distance but eventually turned back to keep exploring the park. The boundaries of Peace Valley Park extend beyond Route 313 (Swamp Road) but these trails are not marked.

I circled back on the Upper Woods Trail away from the North Branch Neshaminy Creek. In this area, you can see it was a bit overgrown but it wasn't bad.

Looking at the creek made me wish I had my fishing pole with me. I'm an avid fisherman but this year, I've been hiking a lot more than fishing so that itch has been hitting me recently. I'm looking forward to the next time I head out to spend a day on the water and hopefully catch a few fish too!

Back to the edge of Lake Galena. There's a bridge on the northeastern side of the park that crosses over where the North Branch Neshaminy Creek and Lake Galena meet. This is looking to the side of the creek.

View of Lake Galena from the bridge

I'm happy to see this picture came out clear. It was so bright outside, I couldn't tell from looking at my camera if it had.

Another view of Lake Galena from the bridge

Once I crossed over the bridge, I continued northeast on the trails opposite of the North Branch Neshaminy Creek. This trail is called the Habitat Trail.

I took the Swamp Trail so i could get another view of the North Branch Neshaminy Creek

Small on the Swamp Trail bridge over the Hardiaken Creek

Another very nice spot on the North Branch Neshaminy Creek.

I continued alongside the creek on the Fallen Tree Trail

Crossing over another branch of the Hardiaken Creek

I'm not sure why these tables were out in the middle of the woods but they look and smell relatively new and there were a few of them in the area. Perhaps they'll eventually be picnic tables.

The sun poked itself out now and again throughout the day. I thought the reflection off the leaves looked pretty cool.

The Hawk Walk was the next trail that intersected with the Fallen Tree Trail and was the one I took although it veered away from the creek at this point.

Next was the Far Out Loop which brings you to the northernmost section of these trails.

I turned off the Far Out Loop and on to Wild Woods Way heading southwest back towards Lake Galena.

Glad the Hardiaken Creek wasn't flooded, no bridge to cross over if it was.

This section of the park was my favorite. The yellow flowers were all over the place (once I can figure out what they are, I'll update) and on both sides of the trail(s). This was on the Unami Trail

Monarch Butterfly

This was the thickest section of these flowers. While in the middle of the trail, I stopped walking just to listen for a moment. There were so many bees buzzing around all the flowers that it sounded like a large swarm.

I spotted this Praying Mantis as I was walking through a section of these flowers, I'm sure it had its fill of food for the day! It was under a few flowers so it was tough to get decent pictures of it. I tried to move some of the leaves out of the way and that's when it turned its head to look in my direction. I tried to make it move forward but instead it hid even deeper under the leaves. At least I managed a few shots before it took off.

Off to the side of the Indian Path trail, I found this hutch made of wooden branches. This was the third one I saw throughout my hike and it made me wonder if there's some survival skills training going on inside the park or if this is a work in progress for making a teepee of sorts.

After the Indian Path trail, I crossed back over Chapman Road where the Peace Valley Nature Center is and headed to the trails on the northern side of Lake Galena. This contraption is just outside the nature center.

On to the Lake Walk trail.

Somewhere in this area, I stopped to take a short break and to take the sleeves off my pants because I thought the trails in this area were in as good of condition as I had been on. Now that the sun was popping out a bit more often, it was pretty warm for long pants.

I believe this was part of the Willow Walk trail.

View of Lake Galena from the Lake Walk trail.

Somewhere in here was where I ran into a little bit of a problem. I lost the well maintained trails and ended up in an area I don't think I was supposed to be in. If you look at the trail map, it says "Keep Out". It wasn't intentional by any means but by the time I realized it, I didn't want to turn back so I kept going. There are trails in here but they're obviously not maintained or supposed to be for visitors to be walking through. The further in I went, the more difficult it was to determine what was a trail and what wasn't. Glad I took the sleeves off my pants...just in time to run into thick growth!

In this area however, I ran into about 3 or 4 deer, one of which startled the daylights out of me when it snorted at me. Perhaps I was a little too close to its home. Another deer was no more than about 30 feet from me where I stood completely still until it slowly walked away. Very cool!

I stumbled upon these ruins whatever they were. Perhaps at one time this used to be a home since there was a hole in the middle of the buildup of stones along the perimeter. There was another not too far away from this one but not as well defined so I didn't take any shots of it.

I finally got back to the real trails and one of the many docks around Lake Galena. This was also right about where the trail went to being paved and was this way for the rest of the hike. There aren't any unpaved trails on the northwestern side of the lake other than one that's made of gravel. 

View looking back to Lake Galena and the trail I was walking on

Looking across Lake Galena to the boat launch area where I parked.

Hard to see but the dam at the end of Lake Galena is off in the distance

No idea why but this little piggy was just sitting on a bench just off the trail.

Getting closer to the dam

When I finally made it to the damn, instead of walking alongside it, I decided to take the lower path below. There were a few side trails that I had checked out but they all led to streets.

Gravel trail leading below the dam

Once on the other side of the dam, it circles around to the top of the hill and you have another view of the lake.

On the opposite side of the trail from the lake was this low lying area

My last picture of the day at Peace Valley Park.

That was about it for my adventure at Peace Valley Park. I hiked here back in January before all the crazy winter weather hit but only around the lake. I hadn't taken any of the side trails and this was one of my very first hikes after deciding I wanted to get more serious about it. I had just purchased my first set of hiking boots (which I found out the hard way were too small) and was still carrying my generic Bass Pro Shops backpack that had no back or waist support. How things have changed since then...

I like Peace Valley Park but like Tyler State Park with the paved trails, I won't be breaking the door down to return since I prefer natural terrain over asphalt. At least at Tyler State Park, there are enough unpaved trails where you won't have to walk on the pavement very much if you plan your route properly (stay away from the equestrian trails alongside the creek if you go to Tyler State park!). If I do return however, there were some trails I missed that I'd like to check out.

On my way into Peace Valley Park, I passed another smaller park and decided that on my way out, I was going to stop in to take a look around. According to the sign by the entrance which I forgot to get a picture of, this place is called Covered Bridge Park. There's no real street address for this park but it's located on Old Iron Hill Road in New Britain, PA. 

Part of the reason I stopped was to get a picture of the Pine Valley Covered Bridge, also known as the Iron Hill Covered Bridge. It was built out of native hemlock and pine in 1842 by David Sutton and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 1, 1980.

The creek running below the bridge is called Pine Run

There's a trail that runs alongside Pine Run for a distance but I didn't go too far since I have just finished my hike at Peace Valley Park and was pretty worn out. Perhaps whenever I get back to the area, I'll see how far the trail takes me but giving the location of Pine Run and this park, I don't think I'll be getting more than a mile of hiking in. 

As always, getting a day in hiking is a good day. Despite my frustrations earlier in the day with not being able to locate the trails I was looking for, it turned out to be a decent adventure.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Happy adventures and happy hiking!

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  1. The ruins you reference at Peace Valley Park are the old chicken coop and sheds from the original farm. A 7 bedroom white farmhouse used to be situated overlooking the mammoth black walnut tree, just over from the stone ruins of the barn house. The whole property was taken via eminent domain back in the 70's by the county for the dam project, but also as part of a plan to privately develop much of the outlying areas into a country club with golf course. Today, in addition to the "ruins" you can also see the little spring-house and the barn with fallen silo. Come at the right time and you will find mulberries, pears, apples, and raspberries galore, vestiges of the large farmhouse that existed up until the 90's when the county had it bulldozed.

    1. Thank you for that information, I tried to find out what used to be there but was unable to. I love finding out the history of places such as this, much appreciated! Thanks for stopping in too!

  2. next time you go hiking let us know!! I'll be happy to join.