Exploring Valley Forge


Long run at Valley Forge National Historic Park

14.0 miles @ 11:26 per mile
Today I headed out to Valley Forge National Historic Park for a 14 miler in the snow. I was hesitant to run there because I've become so comfortable with the Wissahickon trails, but ultimately decided to challenge myself and run outside my comfort zone. While training for the 2012 NJ marathon, I often ran on the 5 mile bike path at Valley Forge, but had never attempted running the trails. 
Aside from the the hilly bike paths, there are many hiking trails to explore.  Most of them wind their way up, down, and around Mount Misery and Mount Joy. 

Since I had no clue where to start here, I decided to do some online research and found a 7.25 mile guided hike here. This guide was extremely helpful and as a result, I now feel very comfortable with the trail system at Valley Forge. 
I started out at Washington's Headquarters: 
After crossing a road and a bridge, I turned onto the Horse Shoe Trail, which is clearly marked with yellow blazes and sign posts along the trail. 
I climbed the Horse Shoe Trail until it met up with the Mount Misery trail. I'm pretty sure I ran up the "easy" side, because the descent seemed longer and steeper than the ascent. 
Horse Shoe Trail 
Mount Misery Trail
I descended Mount Misery and continued on the Valley Creek trail which ran beside the creek. This was one of my favorite parts of the run. The trail here was snow covered, flat, sunny, and offered some  gorgeous views. 

  Valley Creek Trail 

After about 4.5 miles of running around Mount Misery, I moved onto Mount Joy. Here, I found some tough climbs leading to fun single track trails along a gorgeous ridge. I climbed all the way to the top and then descended to the observatory deck before descending back down to Washington's Headquarters. 
Mount Joy single track
Mount Joy Trail 
 View from Mount Joy Observatory Deck 
After running about 7.25 miles up and down snowy mountains, I decided to give my legs a break and run on hilly bike paths. I ran about a mile from Washington's Headquarters to meet up with the Joseph Plumb Martin trail, the main multi-use path at Valley Forge. The rolling hills are challenging, but keep the run exciting. I unexpectedly ran into my friend Gabi while on the path, about 11 sweaty miles into  my run. 
I ran around the entire 5 mile loop at an easy pace, taking some photos along the way. Then I ran a mile back to my car at Washington's Headquarters. 
Revolutionary cabins along the bike path
Field view from the bike path

I'm really glad I chose to run at Valley Forge today. I explored some fun new trails and revisited some familiar ones. Can't wait to go back soon!

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