Big Woods Trail (PA)


3 Reviews

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Big Woods Trail (PA) Facts

States: Pennsylvania
Counties: Berks, Chester
Length: 3 miles
Trail end points: Thun Trail, about 2 miles east of Birdsboro and Route 23 (Main Street) in Elverson
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 9689760

Big Woods Trail (PA) Description

Envisioned as a multi-use trail that will eventually connect the Thun Trail section of the Schuylkill River Trail in Union Township in southeast Berks County to the towns of Elverson and St. Peters in northwest Chester County, three disconnected segments of the Big Woods Trail have been completed and are currently opened to the public.

The northernmost, and longest, completed section of the trail, which will eventually extend 13 miles through the Hopewell Big Woods, connects the Thun Trail with Crusher Road. A meadow-like environment dominates on this 2-mile segment, which gently winds up a hill for most of its length.

The 1-mile middle section connects the historic Hopewell Iron Furnace National Historic site to nearby French Creek State Park. Despite its short length, this section of trail passes the historical buildings of the iron furnace complex, which used charcoal to smelt iron ore from nearby mines in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as scenic French Creek Lake. It also connects to the Horseshoe Trail, a hiking and equestrian trail that extends from the Appalachian Trail northeast of Harrisburg, east through the PA Highlands to Valley Forge, as well as a network of hiking paths in French Creek State Park.

The southernmost segment of trail, which is only 0.3 miles long, is constructed along an old railroad grade in the borough of Elverson in northwest Chester County. This section begins at Route 23 (Main Street) and extends north to Park Ave., with a small branch to a nearby apartment complex. Highlights on this section include an old train station and bank building, and there are several other historical buildings located elsewhere in the town.

These segments will eventually be joined together, connecting the Thun and Horseshoe trails, as well as several parks and historical sites. It might also eventually be extended further south along an abandoned rail line toward Honey Brook and may ultimately link to an extended Struble Trail.


Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available for the northern segment off Center Road, the middle segment in Hopewell Furnace Historical Area and off Park Road in French Creek State Park and the southernmost section in the Hopewell Village Apartments in Elverson.

Big Woods Trail (PA) Reviews

Mixed reviews

We have ridden the section that connects with the Schuylkill River Trail several times and that section is fine. We went to ride the other two sections. First we stopped at the Hopewell Furnace Visitor's Center. there is lots of parking and clean rest rooms, however we could not find the trail. We asked a park ranger and he directed us to the trail. It was down a steep hill covered with large stones (for biking over) followed by an unmarked turn. Finally there was a sign and the trail was wide and paved most of the way to the pool where we turned around although a wide gravel path continued on. Next we drove to Elverson and rode that section of trail. Other than being short, part of the trail was little more than a single track.

I took my family on this trail and with it being 3/4 paved and ending up at Hopewell furnace made for a lovely afternoon¡

I took my family on this trail and with it being 3/4 paved and ending up at Hopewell furnace made for a lovely afternoon¡

Scenic trail coming together

Situated in the rolling hills of southeast Berks and northwest Chester County, the Big Woods Trail will link several parks and historic sites when completed.
A work in progress, the trail will connect the Schuylkill River Trail to the borough of Elverson when completed. As of 2021, three, disconnected segments of the multi-use trail are finished.
The northern segment begins at the Schuylkill River Trail in the village of Monocacy and winds its way up a grassy hillside to Crusher Road. This section is noted for its rolling pasturelands and panoramic views of the valley below.
The middle segment starts a few miles to the south at the Hopewell Iron Furnace National Historic Site off Park Road. The centerpiece of this site is a restored 19th century-era furnace, which was fed by charcoal produced from the trees of the surrounding Big Woods and used to smelt iron from nearby mines. Trail users should check out the grounds before heading southwest on the greenway, which passes through the woods and connects the Historical Site to the adjacent French Creek State Park. This section also connects to the Horseshoe Trail and the State Park's own network of footpaths and follows the south shoreline of Hopewell Lake, ending at the park's main parking lot and recreation complex.
A shorter, southern segment of the trail extends for about a quarter mile along an abandoned rail line in the borough of Elverson. This segment begins at Park Ave. and extends to Route 23 (Main Street), and is noted for several restored historical buildings.
When the trail is eventually completed, it will link the Schuylkill River and Horseshoe trails as well as several other historical sites and open space areas. It may also be extended further south into Chester County via the old Reading to Coatesville rail line.

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