50 Hikes 50 States Project–Pennsylvania
We had a few weeks off from out last hiking trip to Wyoming and Montana and a three-day weekend to enjoy. We set our sights to the northeast, grabbing its southern edge to adventure on our next hiking trip in our 50 Hikes 50 States Project. This time, we boarded Southwest Airlines on one of our longer flights. At just over three hours, we jetted out of Denver with our companion pass on an early flight to land in Philadelphia three hours later.
Hiking Tyler State Park
Tyler State Park picked us for our Pennsylvania hike. Why? After traveling for five hours, grabbing lunch at the delicious Moish and Itzy’s Deli where they make the best egg salad sandwich in PA, we didn’t want a long or difficult hike. Plus, when I think of Pennsylvania, I think of covered bridges and the Amish communities. Granted, the Amish communities are not in Philly, but Tyler State Park did have a covered bridge. So off we went.
The drive from Philly to Tyler State Park takes just under an hour. It’s easy. We entered the park and immediately felt like we had arrived at a farm. With sprawling fields and old farm houses along the way, I wondered about the park’s history. The park started as land owned by William Penn. It eventually broke into several farms, and it finally became one large farmstead created by the Tyler family. Eventually the Tyler Estate became the park, and now its old roads that connected the various farms and mills make the trails and access points for the park. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car and explore.
Mill Dairy Trail to the Neshaminy Creek Trail
We parked at the Boathouse, used the restrooms and started our four-mile hike. We found the Mill Dairy Trail, a multi-modal blacktop trail that roughly follows the Neshaminy Creek. It starts at a bridge/dam where locals gather to wade in the water and fish. On this Friday before Labor Day, kids skittered along the bank, kayaks darted between the small ripples, and parents set up barbecues. Norman Rockwell would have enjoyed the scene.
Walking along the blacktop, the maples and oaks shaded us from a too-warm sun. Dog walkers and strolling babies joined us. It seemed the entire community was out getting their last summertime walk in before the turning of the leaves. Bright yellow and orange orchid-looking vines bloomed along the edge of the trail, while fat bees bumbled from stamens to carpels.
Along the way, old stone farm houses stood sentry while boys casts their fishing poles into the shallow creek.
A mile and half passed before we realized we were on the wrong trail.
The red-blazed trail called the Neshaminy Creek Trail that we originally sought, we found out, was the dirt path along the river, not the blacktop where we ambled.
Crossing the Schofield Ford Covered Bridge
No worries. The blacktop went where we wanted to go, the Schofield Ford Covered Bridge. We stayed on the blacktop until we came to the sign that said “covered bridge.” Walking down the hill toward the bridge, a deer and her two fawns jumped in front of us. I wondered if Snow White were right around the corner with a pair of blue birds.
About 1/3 mile down the hill, we arrived at the coveted covered bridge. Spanning the creek, the all-wooden structure just waited to tell us stories. And those stories displayed in interpretative signage on both sides of the creek. Long story short? The bridge connected the two communities, Newtown and Northampton Townships, and people made their livelihood via this bridge.
Then tragedy struck in 1991.
The bridge caught fire and burned the elm and hemlock bridge down to its crossings. The local volunteer fire department did its best to save it.
The community rallied, and in 1997, they rebuilt the post-and-beam bridge to its original splendor, adding in diamond-shaped windows so people could see out the sides of the bridge when crossing. Now, it’s an active bridge for walkers, hikers, and horseback riders alike.
We walked across the bridge, took our pictures, and marveled at the historic construction. And then, as if on queue, Snow White showed up on her horse. Actually, it was three of the local teens out for a ride. One of the teens who was walking her horse even stopped to let some of the smaller girls, gawking on the sidelines, pet her horse. I truly felt like I was on a set waiting for a director to call, “Action!”
Frogs Jump By
After taking a break, we headed back to our trail head. But this time, we found our red blazes marking the trail and stayed in the woods on trail the entire way back. Hundreds of tiny frogs leapt out of our way.
We relaxed into the walk, discussing the world’s problems and finding solutions to world peace. The hike really was a nice way to end a long travel day at the end of summer. Watching the frogs jump out of our path made it all more fun.
Once we finished the hike, we loaded up the car and pointed ourselves to the northeast. Our next hike would be in New York at Harriman State Park, about two hours away. We only could tolerate an hour’s drive after our long day, so we crashed the night at an AirBnB in New Jersey before making our way to our hardest hike yet.
What I Wear and What Gear I Use
I’ve had several people ask me what I wear when I travel and hike. Although I always carry on my bag, I try to make sure that my travel clothes can be hiking clothes if necessary.
So, on the plane I wear a skort. My favorite skort is the Gym Girl model from Skirt Sports. I love that it comes in a bunch of solids and prints. If you want a longer or short skort, they have those too. A skort is the perfect bottom to not only be comfortable in, but it can function as a travel skirt and a hiking short at the same time. Combined, the skirt with a short built in makes the ideal travel to hike combo. (I’m in the Skirt Sport Happy Girl model above.)
On my feet I wear my closed-toe Chacos, which I often hike in although I will change to my boots (Salomon) when the trail requires more solid footing.
On head is my beloved Wallaroo hat, (use my code EATWALKLEARN20 for a discount!) and I carry all my stuff in my favorite carry-on bag, Eagle Creek.
If I think the hike will need poles, I bring my Black Diamonds trekking poles (I prefer the fold up ones as opposed to the telescopic), and I carry all of my hiking gear in my Osprey Hikelite pack.
As for what’s in my pack, you can check out all my suggestions on my gear page.
What You Need to Know about this Hike (click for interactive map)