The Horse-Shoe Trail

There seem to be two theories about how the “Horse-Shoe” trail was named. The boring one (and therefore probably more correct) is that it was used by both horses and people. The more interesting tale is that when people were moving west and a horse threw a shoe, they couldn’t take time to look for the old shoe; they just nailed a new one on. Anyone who found a shoe would hang it on a post along the trail. After a while, every post sported a horseshoe; hence the name.

The Conestoga trail follows, in part, the Conestoga river, so there’s no mystery there. I mention these because they meet about a mile from Speedwell Forge. The Horse-Shoe trail runs 140 miles from Valley Forge to the Appalachian trail; the Conestoga is a hiking-only trail that runs 61 miles through Lancaster County.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the triathlon route that goes past Speedwell Forge was “one of the prettiest rides in all the triathlon world.” I didn’t mention that in addition to swimming, you can also go canoeing at Speedwell Forge Lake; they don’t allow gas-powered boats, so it is very serene.

If that’s not your cup of tea, you can go birding. According to Audubon Pennsylvania, Speedwell Forge Lake hosts Bald Eagles, Osprey, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Green Herons, and Black-crowned Night-Herons. Speedwell Forge Park has Ruffed Grouse, Wood Thrush, Veery, White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Carolina Wren, and Yellow-breasted Chat, among others. A survey in 2003 identified 125 bird species!

And finally, you can engage in my favorite activity: Nothing. Sitting on the porch watching fireflies; reading a book from a deep window well; strolling around the farm; watching the sun set and the moon rise (or vice-versa).

So there you have it: You can stay at Speedwell Forge and go hiking, biking, swimming, canoeing, birding, even compete in a triathalon, all without getting in your car. 🙂

I’ve also read about “inn-to-inn touring” where you bike from one B&B to the next, and the innkeeper transports your luggage for you.