|Length||140 mi (225 km)|
|Location||Southeastern Pennsylvania, United States|
|Trailheads||Valley Forge National Historical Park
|Trail difficulty||Moderate to Strenuous|
The Horse-Shoe Trail is a 140-mile (230 km) trail that runs from the western edge of Valley Forge National Historical Park westward toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It ends about 15 miles (24 km) northeast of Harrisburg at the Appalachian Trail.
The east end of the Horse-Shoe Trail is at the boundary of Montgomery County and Chester County in Valley Forge National Historical Park. The trail connects with other trails in the park, which can be followed to connect with the long-distance Schuylkill River Trail at the northeast corner of the park, although the unsigned route includes three crossings of busy PA Route 23.
West of Valley Forge Park, the original trail has been broken up by suburban development. Some segments of the original trail have been closed off by new housing and lengthy detours are now required to continue on the trail's route. Detours and rerouted portions are sometimes not marked clearly. Further west in Chester County, the trail meets the northern terminus of the Brandywine Trail, a limited-access trail that runs south 35 miles (56 km) roughly along Brandywine Creek to Brandywine Creek State Park near Wilmington, Delaware.
In Dauphin County, after crossing fields and following roads in the Hershey area, the trail crosses Appalachian ridges and valleys in one of its most remote and strenuous sections, before ending at the Appalachian Trail atop Stony Mountain.
Points of interest
- Near the eastern end of the trail are the ruins of an old root beer bottling plant. A spring runs through the ruins.
- The trail traverses the Hopewell Big Woods in western Chester County and eastern Berks County. This area includes Welkinweir, an arboretum and conservation area south of Pottstown. Further west in this area is the National Recreation Trail segment, which goes through Warwick County Park, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, and French Creek State Park.
- Further west the trail goes up and down the Furnace Hills. Midway through this section, in Lancaster County, is Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.
- Many of the wooded areas on the trail are in Pennsylvania State Game Lands. Trail users should wear appropriate reflective clothing during hunting seasons, and there may be trail closures or detours in some of those seasons.
Horse-Shoe Trail Club
The Horse-Shoe Trail Club was founded in 1935 and coordinates volunteer and funding efforts to maintain the trail.
The club prints a guide to the trail that is updated occasionally, which includes a booklet and a set of 10 detailed maps. The guide is available for sale through the club. It is also sold at the visitor's center to Valley Forge Park and other select locations. The 24th edition of the guide was published in February 2011. There is also a newsletter, Blaze, that is published and includes updated information to the guide.
- Backpacking Pennsylvania: 37 Great Hikes, Mitchell, Stackpole Books, 2004, ISBN 0-8117-3180-4
- "Horse-Shoe Trail - Warwick to French Creek State Park, Pennsylvania". American Trails. Retrieved 24 September 2015.