“The sky was gray as he walked through the abandoned summer camp. He felt a chill in the air, and a dampness like death as he passed cabins and bunkhouses. There was a pile of newspapers on the porch of one of the cabins. Yellow with age, he saw they were clippings of ads for Wes Craven films and stories of curiously incautious and oversexed young people getting slashed to death by a demented and deformed former grocery store clerk named Jason Freddie Kroger. Suddenly a twig snapped behind him and he heard scary music playing. He turned just as the blade swung….” – from the novelization of the screenplay “I Know Where You Hiked Last Summer.”
In a different light Coventry Woods is a lovely place to hike. But the days I visited were overcast and chilly. And yes, it is a little creepy to hike through an abandoned summer camp.
North Coventry Township, located south of the Borough of Pottstown, is serious about preserving open space. And the biggest parcel is Coventry Woods, a township park that covers more than six hundred acres. A sizable chunk of that acreage comes from a closed summer camp that the township purchased a few years ago. Fernbrook Trailhead, as its now known, is the main point of access to the park, although there are others. (On a visit in 2012 I parked along a road next to Rock Run and hiked from there, for instance.) The trailhead features a small parking lot, a portable restroom, and a great view of the camp and the ridgeline. The township has plans to convert one of the buildings into a nature and visitor’s center, but for now the camp structures are locked and labeled with No Trespassing signs.
At the trailhead there’s also a trail map showing the extensive network of paths in Coventry Woods. While the trails are short, they interconnect and there are a lot of them, so a person could easily string them together for a day hike of several miles. And while I’ve mentioned the summer camp grounds, most of the park is woodland, so you get a variety of locations on your hike.
The day was gray and overcast when I visited, and I was the only person there I knew of. I couldn’t tell if the weather or the difficulty of reaching the park kept people away. (The park doesn’t show up on Google maps, so enter the address of the trailhead, 1954 St. Peter’s Road, to find it.) The trails I hiked were the Pigeon Creek, which took me on a short loop by the camp’s abandoned swimming pool and into the woods at the creek, and a portion of the Great Oak Trail. In and near the camp the hiking is easy, but as you travel away the surface becomes the usual dirt and rocks. The Great Oak Trail climbs by the marked locations of old charcoal furnaces, but aside from that the view is limited to trees and what rocks are ahead of you. I turned around about a mile in because I kept missing rocks under the leaves and feared a fall or turning an ankle.
The day was largely a bust for photography because of the light, but I found some nice close up shots.
Coventry Woods looks like a nice place to hike, and I know I will be back. But next time I’ll come on a sunny day, and not one that looks like a slasher film.