America's Best History Spotlight 

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area.  And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find.  You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't.  It'll be fun.  Visit them.

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Trexler Nature Preserve,
Lehigh County, PA

Horseshoe Trail,
Valley Forge to Harrisburg, PA

Valley Forge - Washington's Headquarters Huts
Trexler Nature Preserve - Lehigh Valley Zoo

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What is There Now

Trexler Nature Preserve

What's There

1,108 acres of Nature Preserve.
26 miles of walking trails.  11.8 miles of horseback riding trails.
Bison and Elk Habitat (not in the zoo)
The Lehigh Valley Zoo
An Environmental Center.
Plenty of picnic tables, place to pull over and park, fishing or kayaking on the Jordan River, covered bridges and walkways.

When Did it Open

Trexler Nature Preserve - 1906
Lehigh Valley Zoo - 1974

How Much to Visit

Trexler Nature Preserve - Free, including the bison and elk herds.

Lehigh Valley Zoo
Peak Season (April 1 to October 31)
Adult - $12.00
Senior - $11.00
Child (2-11) - $10.00

Child (Under 2) - Free

Rates are lower during the off-peak season.  The zoo and nature preserve are open all year long.

How to Get There

It's a bit deep in Lehigh County, but not far off Route 22 and Route 78.  From the west, you can get there by taking the Route 100 exit and traveling north.  From the east, take the Rt. 309 north exit, go 7.7 miles and turn left on Mill Creek Road.  Look for signs to the various sections of the Preserve or the Zoo as you go.

How Many People Visit

Over 5 million since its inception in 1906.  Lehigh Valley Zoo saw 135,000 visitors in 2013.


Website:  Trexler Nature Preserve

Website:  Lehigh Valley Zoo

History Along the Way You Might Like
Museum of Indian Culture
Lehigh County Museum
Lock Ridge Furnace Museum

Valley Forge National Historic Park

Horseshoe Trail - Valley Forge to Harrisburg

You begin this trail from the east at Valley Forge National Park, just across from the Washington's Headquarters area, and before you reach the end of your one hundred and forty mile trek to the Appalachian Trail above Harrisburg (not at one time for most), you'll pass by tons of historic sites and lands.  You'll go through the Great Valley Nature Center, Welkenwehr Nature Preserve, St. Peter's Village, Hopewell Furnace National Historic SIte, and French Creek State Park.  Before you reach its western end, you'll be in the vicinity of Cornwall Furnace, traverse parcels of Hershey Farms,  before stepping foot onto the Appalachian Trail.

Location: 140 Miles from Valley Forge to the Appalachian Trail.

Cost: Free to walk the trail, although some individual historic sites near it, such as Hopewell Furnace, have one.

Camping: Various campgrounds are located along the trailway, some private and some public, such as French Creek State Park.  The Conservancy guidebook has a good list of them.

Who maintains the trail and can you help: The Horse-shoe Trail Conservancy and its member have been taking care of the trail since 1935.  They are a completely volunteer organization.  You can become a new member for $15.  They have guidebooks and trail maps, too, to help you to make the trek.

Website:  Horseshoe Trail Conservancy

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About Them

Trexler Nature Preserve

Nature saw a hard winter for the northeast section of the country at the beginning of 2014, but spring is finally here.  It's time to lace up those hiking boots or sneakers and trail along some historic paths in the suburban Philadelphia to Harrisburg, and Allentown region, see nature as it blossoms, plus some creatures or two.  And two unique places to visit, that many forget even amongst local residents, are a preserve and zoo not far outside that's been greeting visitors since 1906, and a trail that reaches from Valley Forge all the way to Harrisburg, tred by colonists going from forge to forge, and some say, long ago Indian tribes on their way to camps in the eastern parts of the state of Pennsylvania before the Trail of Tears took many west to Oklahoma.

Trexler Nature Preserve - Bison

The Trexler Game Preserve has been around since 1906 when businessman Harry C. Trexler, the founder of Pennsylvania Power and Light, thought that the bison, white-tailed deer, and elk herds were heading toward extinction and needed a safe place to roam.  So he bought acreage north of the Allentown area and a group of bison and deer at first and established a preserve.  

Today, you can roam the preserve for free and still see herds of bison, elk, and deer, plus travel fourteen trails covering 26 miles.  There's even a primitive campsite there for scout groups, right next to the buffalo, for them to stay at.  And there's been a lot of improvements to the amenities at the preserve over the last five years, including signage, trailheads, and an Environmental Center.

But for many, particularly your children, there's also a twenty-nine acre zoo built in 1974, for you to visit.  There is a fee for that.  And for others, including children and adults alike, there's a spot on the Jordan River along the preserve road to the bison herd, where you get to drive through the stream.  For some reason, we really liked that.  And there's plenty of places to picnic, with lots of picnic tables along the river and elsewhere.

Trexler Nature Preserve - Covered Bridge

Horseshoe Trail

Fifty miles south and stretching a whole lot more than twenty-six miles, the Horseshoe Trail stretches from Valley Forge to Harrisburg. The trail itself, as a coordinated trail was begun by Henry Woolman in 1926, when he bought a farm near Valley Forge, and inspired by the Appalachain Trail he had recently traversed, thought a similar trail would be a good idea for hikers to get from the Valley Forge region to the Appalachian Trail itself at Manada Gap.  Thus, over the next ten years, using paths previously trod by forge workers, and before that, possible the Indian tribes that went before, plus the 8,000 acres owned by Milton Hershey, the trail became a reality.  The first trip down the trail was started July 20, 1935, and took 8.5 days to walk its over 139 miles.  

Today the trail still continues to walk through the marvelous countryside of five counties for one hundred and forty-miles where it reaches the Appalachian Trail at Stony Mountain.  
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