After a little research and Google Maps, we found directions to Ironstone Park in Douglass Township, Berks County. It seemed like it would be fairly close to Municipal Park, which had been our first destination of the day, and, thankfully, it was. We took a left out of the Municipal Park parking lot and then made a right on Grist Mill Road. The road twisted and turned, passing some Pine Forge Athletic Association fields and the Glendale swim club. Just when I thought maybe we had missed the park, we drove under a railroad trestle and over a metal bridge and found this little hidden treasure of a park. According to the township, the actual address of the park is 141 Grist Mill Road, which is helpful to have for the GPS.
One of the things I enjoy most about heading out to a park with my family is getting the chance to “unplug” and just hang out together. Nothing fancy-just a quickly packed picnic lunch and a change of scenery is generally all it takes to get that feeling. This day was no exception. We had made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (and one Nutella sandwich), thrown a few apples and water bottles into a reusable grocery bag after church, and headed out the door.
If you are like me, it’s hard to remove yourself from the demands of home and work and everything that presses in on family time. The phone rings; the laundry is sitting at the top of the steps waiting to be done; the endless “to-do” list sits on the counter just begging to be read. Taking our simple lunch to the park meant leaving all those things behind and just connecting. My husband and older daughter played soccer in the big open space at the front of the car. We all had lunch together-with only a little grumbling about the PB&J. We skipped rocks in the creek and tried out the exercise equipment (with the kids having a little more success than I did when it came to the balance beam, I am a bit mortified to admit). Essentially, we were able to disconnect from the world, and just connect with each other in a way that is much harder to do at home.
The habit of going to the park as a family started naturally for us. When our oldest daughter was born, we lived in an apartment that didn’t offer any usable outside space, so we would pack ourselves and our dinner up and go to our favorite local parks for the evening. Later, when we moved from West Chester to Delaware, I spent hours exploring the beautiful parks our area had to offer. Since then, we have continued the tradition of visiting parks as a family.
Ironstone Park was the perfect spot, then, for our simple Sunday afternoon picnic. There is plenty of open space for kicking a soccer ball around, and there is a simple baseball field that would be great for an impromptu game. The playground is small in scale and may be geared a bit more toward the preschool set rather than older, school-aged kids, but my kids still enjoyed it. The exercise equipment was fun, too, with all of us trying out our strength on the bars and our agility and balance on the beam and the posts.
The covered pavilion was great for getting some shade while we ate; the open (and clean) bathrooms were icing on the cake. It’s unusual to find bathroom facilities at a park and always a welcome amenity when we do. We also followed the path along the creek a ways, and then spent some very important time just chucking pebbles and leaves into the water. Thankfully, none of us fell into the water, or the trip wouldn’t have ended as well.
Put Ironstone Park on your “to-do” list before this fall is over, experience the beautiful setting and the gorgeous fall colors, and re-connect with those close to you.
IRONSTONE PARK (DOUGLASS TOWNSHIP/BERKS COUNTY)
Location: 141 Grist Mill Road, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: 20 acres
Suitability: With shaded pavilions, playground and just plenty of room to enjoy the natural setting, the whole family can appreciate Ironstone Park.
Facilities: Picnic tables, pavilions, playground, exercise stations, basketball, baseball, creek, restrooms
Activities and Tips: Take some time to check out this out-of-the-way park. Pack a lunch (or dinner while it’s still light enough) and enjoy some time in the outdoors with your family.
Hours: Dawn until dusk.
Douglass Township Municipal Building
1068 Douglass Drive
Boyertown, PA. 19512
Office: 610-367-8500 Fax: 610-367-0360
Office Hours: Monday through Friday – 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.