As I set out on my bike on the Chester Valley Trail, the wind blew over the hills, pushing my bike from one side of the trail to the other. I slid into the aero position on my bars and blinked tears from the cold out of my eyes. Green covers the rolling hills from King of Prussia to Exton along an historic route that is built on the old railroad bed of the Chester Valley Railroad, a branch of the Reading Railroad. The paved trail runs about 14 miles in one direction and will eventually be connected to the Schuylkill River Trail in Norristown.
South of Valley Forge, the trail passes by the Battle of the Clouds Park as well as other historic sites. It parallels and eventually traverses Lincoln Highway, or US Route 30, which is the first highway to go from coast to coast in 1913, encouraging people to see the country by car. The trail crosses the Lincoln Highway in Exton where it’s only two lanes.
I was really excited about seeing the Battle of the Clouds Park because I thought a major battle was fought there, but it’s actually a misnomer since there wasn’t a battle nor was there a great deal of fog that influenced the battle. Basically, the Americans suffered a defeat at the Battle of Brandywine against the British and retreated while the British approached Philadelphia. Bad weather and storms prevented another battle from occurring on the heals of defeat, raising the moral of the Continental Army. Some say the Battle of the Clouds was a turning point in the war, but others disagree. It’s now a park with playgrounds and soccer fields.
I stopped a few times to read the historical markers along the way or to look at the labels for the native trees of Pennsylvania, turning around after I rode over the Lincoln Highway. The temperatures rose, and I refilled my water bottle at a park in Exton. The Chester Valley Trail is easily accessible at various points along the route, and it’s perfect for a short bike ride or a long run since it’s mostly flat for this part of PA and paved the whole way.