Well maintained trail with little hazards, though this is a popular trail for dog walking. Be prepared to encounter other visitors!
This trail is part of the "Mount Joy Trail
" cluster. This is the primary path over Mount Joy. The trail is a nice climb/descent with only a few rugged sections. That majority of the trail is crushed gravel surface and is wide enough for two people . The trail starts at the Knox Farm parking area off of Rt 252 in Valley Forge National Park. From the trailhead map in the parking lot, follow the paved Joseph Plumb Martin Trail
Northeast until the unpaved Mount Joy Trail
.42 miles up. This switchback will take you on the east side of two soldier bunkhouses. A path directly up the field on the west side of the bunks is a social trail that cuts the switchback. Please follow the paved path and help prevent erosion along the unofficial path.
The trail then gradually climbs up through two high points on Mt. Joy, but does not summit them. If you're looking to reach the summit, there are side trails to the top where an observatory used to stand. Along the way there are several places to look out into Valley Creek and onto the Valley Forge Farms section of the park. In this section will be General Knox's Quarters (present during encampment), PC Knox Estate (highly modified since encampment), Lord Stirling's Quarters (Modified after encampment) and General LaFayette's Quarters (far to the South-Southwest on the far side of Valley Creek).
The trail then descends into the valley in which George Washington's Headquarters is situated. After running to the headquarter's end of the trail, add a small bypass look on the return trip by turning left on Mount Joy - East Side Alternate Route
A second connector trail, Mount Joy - Joseph Plumb Martin Trail Connector
departs the Mount Joy Trail
to the East to join up with Joseph Plumb Martin Trail
near Artillery Park.
The third option used to be a side loop to an old observatory. The observatory was removed many years ago and part of the trail has recently been abandoned. The Mount Joy - Observatory Loop
connector still summits Mount Joy, but there is no Observatory and no return loop. This trail is less maintained, several large steps required at the Mt Joy end of the trail before entering an open field where the observatory had been. Without the observatory there is no clear view past the trees. The connector then heads Northeast towards Inner Line Drive and Joseph Plumb Martin Trail
. The original loop is no longer maintained and difficult to pick out.