Weekend Wheeling in Philadelphia

Valley Forge National Military Park
By Patricia Vance
  |  Gorp.com

In 1777, the Continental Army, consisting of 12,000 troops, spent six months in Valley Forge. During the long, hard winter, nearly 4,000 men died of exposure, starvation, and disease. As spring arrived, so did supplies, food, and reinforcements. With the assistance of the charismatic Baron von Steuben, who served with the elite guard of the King of Prussia, the uneducated troops were trained in modern war strategies. An alliance with France further improved morale. By June 1778, six months after they arrived, the Continental Army was a strong, efficient unit.

The Valley Forge Auto Tour is nine miles long and it also makes an excellent bike route.

Getting There

From Philadelphia, take US Route 202 south from I-76. Follow signs for Valley Forge. At the traffic light on State Route 23, go straight and follow signs for the visitor's center parking lot, where you can leave your car.

The Ride

Start riding on the multi-use path between the parking lot and the visitor's center, going up the short hill. Follow signs for the Auto Tour.

In less than half a mile, you will see the reconstructed huts of the Muhlenberg Brigade; over 1,000 of these huts stood in 1777, each one housing an average of 12 men for six months. Follow the bike path to the National Arch at 1.1 miles. At about 1.5 miles, the bike path swings to the right while the road turns left. Continue to follow the bike path through the woods for less than half a mile until it crosses the road. Follow the driveway through the historic buildings of Knox's headquarters. This will intersect State Route 252. Turn left and follow the signs for the Auto Tour.

At 3.7 miles from the visitor's center, turn right on Route 23. A quarter of a mile farther, turn left toward Washington's Headquarters, still following the Auto Tour signs. At 4.6 miles, you will be in quiet, dense woods, following a narrow winding road. At Varnum's Headquarters, turn right on the bike path that parallels Route 23. Washington Memorial Chapel and the Valley Forge Historical Society Museum are on the left at the 7.6-mile marker, marking the end of the route.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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