Connie Batdorf Park & Woody’s Woods: Tributes to upstanding citizens

South Coventry Township has started what seems to be a fitting tradition: naming its parks and open space after individuals who cared for the land or were instrumental in the Township acquiring the land for generations to come. Every town needs these kinds of citizens.

Connie Batdorf Park is home to the Norchester Red Knights football program in the fall and the Coventry Youth Lacrosse Association in the spring. In addition to the large playing field, there is an excellent playground with new equipment and a pavilion with tables available for fans or for rent for special occasions.

The beautiful red sign that lets visitors know they’ve arrived at the park also lets them learn a bit about the park’s namesake, Conrad C. Batdorf. He was born in 1925 and was a “Roadmaster” for the Township from 1974-2003, the year he passed away. The sign says, “Connie was a gentle, hardworking man, deserving of all the good life offered him!” I get a little choked up whenever I read that. We can’t ask for much more than that – to be remembered well.

Batdorf Field

When I called the Township to get the scoop on the park, I asked Millie Donnell, a Supervisor and Secretary/Treasureer, about the term “roadmaster” because you don’t hear it very often. It refers to what most of us might call someone in “public works.” Apparently, Mr. Batdorf was in charge of South Coventry’s roads and parkland for all those years.

It was a good thing I had Ms. Donnell on the line or I might not have found out that they also have a 250+ acre tract called Woody’s Woods, which has hiking trails, unique flora and fauna, and is open for bow-hunting season. I’m not sure why Woody’s Woods wasn’t listed in the Penn State study because the Township has owned it for several decades. This wilderness area is named after a former Supervisor, W. Richard Whitlock, Jr., whose nickname was “Woody.” He was instrumental in starting the land acquisition process back in the 1970s.

According to Ms. Donnell, there are steep entrances to Woody’s Woods off of Coventryville Road and Harmonyville Road. The latter entrance is overgrown now, and the Township is going through a master site plan process now to reconfigure the entrance to make it more accessible. Because I didn’t know about this parcel, I didn’t visit it when I was in South Coventry last week, but I will get to it at the end of this week when I’m back in the area. I’ll be sure to let you know what I find and will upload some photos then.

This article was amended on October 29, 2010 with photos of Woody’s Woods and the following note:

Mrs. Peg Batdorf, wife of Conrad Batdorf, commented on October 28, 2010:

I was very excited to see the article written about the C.B.Park.
When the park was pre-dedicated at it’s incept, my husband was living at the time and was very humbled, and surprised to be honored in this way. As time passed and his illness progressed, we visited the Park several times. He would be very proud of the additions and improvements made that have made this Park a great asset to our Community. Thank You so much, Ms. Repko, for writing this article.
Sincerely, Peg

Thank you very much, Mrs. Batdorf, for sharing your story!

Location: 2350 Pottstown Pike, Pottstown, PA 19465 (across from the Plaid Pig and the Shoppes at Pughtown) Pottstown Pike is also known as Route 100.
Size: 2 acres
Suitability: All ages.
Facilities: Football/lacrosse field, pavilion, playground, port-o-potties, ample parking. The pavilion is available for rent; see contact details below.
Activities and tips: Children will enjoy the whirling contraption and seesaw.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.

Location: Main entrance: 3131 Coventryville Rd., Pottstown, PA 19465. There is another access point at 1560 Harmonyville Road.
Size: 250+ acres
Suitability: Hikers capable of making steep climb into wilderness area.
Facilities: Woods, trails, unique flora & fauna. Limited parking at both access points.
Activities and tips: Hunting is allowed. Hikers are not allowed in the park Monday-Saturday during bow-hunting season. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays, so hikers may enter the park then. Hunters & hikers alike should be aware of their surroundings at all times.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.

For pavilion rentals at Batdorf Park, contact:
South Coventry Township
1371 New Philadelphia Road
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 469-0444
(610) 469-0520 FAX
Hours: Mon.-Thurs.: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Friday by appointment.

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Batdorf Park Entrance

Batdorf Park Pavilion

Batdorf pavilion dedication

Batdorf Park playground

Batdorf see-saw

Dizzying contraption

Park is across Route 100 from Plaid Pig!

Photo courtesy of South Coventry Township

Woody's Woods, fall view

Woody's Woods incline

1560 Harmonyville Road entrance

Towpath Park, where canal history comes alive

East Coventry Township has just two parks, but each one packs quite a lot of possibility into its space. Yesterday I told you about my visit to Ellis Woods Park, and today I’d like to share my impressions of Towpath Park, a grassy strip that lies between Route 724 and the Schuylkill River and Schuylkill Canal. To get to Towpath, turn into the park across Route 724 from the old, overgrown Pizza World at the intersection with Peterman Road.

Although you wouldn’t know it unless you are middle-aged or are wasting time on the Internet :-), the entrance to Towpath Park is perhaps best known as the longtime resting place of the former Rosedale Diner of Pottstown. A photo of the diner was featured on the cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ 1973 album, “Abandoned Luncheonette,” which contained the hit “She’s Gone.”

Moving on to more traditional historical matters, just as Ellis Woods Park & the nearby cemetery provided me with a little history lesson, Towpath Park provides some very interesting information about the Schuylkill River canal, the transportation of goods in the 1700s, and what life was like in the area of Frick’s Locks.

As part of his Eagle Scout project, William Dougherty erected a series of four story boards within Towpath Park memorializing the Schuylkill River Navigation canals. (He’s the same young man who made the awesome trail signs in Ellis Woods Park.) It’s best to read the historical markers in order. The first one is located near the children’s playground, which is on your right as you enter Towpath Park. (Except for an oversized, lone metal turtle, the play equipment has been removed, but plans are in the works for replacements.) The first marker is entitled, “Towpath Park Historical Trail.” As you move through the park, parallel with Route 724, you will come upon the other markers: “Life on the Canal,” “Schuylkill Navigation Company,” and “Canal Construction.”

According to the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, between 1816 and 1825, the Schuylkill Canal was built by the Schuylkill Navigation Company to help move anthracite from the coal regions to Philadelphia. If you want to read more, check out their website.

But Towpath Park is not just for budding history buffs. It’s got a wide array of other facilities including a volleyball net, picnic tables, grills, port-o-potties, plenty of parking, a boat launch and mini-dock. The boat launch was upgraded about three years ago when the access road and approach to the boat ramp were paved to improve safety and maintenance. It also provided additional signage to encourage use of the launch. I was there on a gorgeous fall afternoon, and the water looked so inviting. I really wished I had a boat. Why don’t I have a boat? I wondered. I’ve enjoyed kayaking a few times when I’ve visited friends in Canada in the summers. A simple kayak or canoe would suffice in times like these. It’s not such a major investment. This is definitely something to antagonize my husband about as soon as I get home. “Honey, why don’t we have a boat?” On the other hand, an outfitter on High Street could be a really good business. Then I could just rent a kayak there. Oh… I’m actually blogging now…must get back to story…

Towpath Park serves as a gathering spot for children’s summer programs, the annual Township Park Day in June and an annual stream cleanup day. The park pavilion is also available for rentals, just get in touch with the Township at the number below…. And may all your boating dreams come true!


Location: Route 724, Pottstown, PA 19465, at the intersection with Peterman Road, across from Pizza World and the veterinary hospital
Size: 7 acres
Suitability: All ages. Site of several annual Township events.
Facilities: Tables, benches, pavilions, grills, volleyball, boat ramp, dock, port-o-potties, historical markers, contact with nature, water views. Pavilion is available for rental.
Activities and tips: The old playground equipment has been removed and plans are being made for its replacement. Young children through adults will enjoy the four historical markers which give some local history in manageable chunks.
Hours: Dawn to dusk.

For pavilion rentals, contact:

East Coventry Township
855 Ellis Woods Road
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 495-5443
(610) 495-9925 FAX
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. M-F

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Canal Path



TowPath Park Open Space



Tow Path



The End



Table & mini-pavilion



Playground, waiting for new equipment


Ellis Woods: A must-see park in East Coventry

When you go in search of Ellis Woods Park, you should have no trouble finding it. There’s a prominent sign in front of the East Coventry municipal building, and the vibrantly colorful playground equipment is easily visible from the road. Ellis Woods Park should be put on everyone’s list of “must-see parks.” If you do not have such a list after reading this series, we will wait for you now to get a pen and paper or type it into your phone or Blackberry or whatever….

…. Okay, here is what makes Ellis Woods Park so wonderful.

#1 The playground is new and cheery. There are picnic tables and benches right next to it. In the warm weather months, there’s an awning over this area, so you and your family can take breaks from the sun. There’s an indoor restroom in the municipal building; the door to the rest room is right next to the play area. It’s clean and well-lit and has soap and paper towels! Note that it’s only unlocked during municipal hours, but there’s a port-o-potty for other times.

#2 Beyond the play area, there’s a flat gravel loop that would be ideal for seniors, dog-walkers, and parents who need to tire out their young children by assigning them an arbitrary number of laps to walk/run. I used to assume my “coaching” voice in these situations. Issue it as a challenge! Be firm!

#3 The half-mile wooded nature trail is the best I’ve seen yet for budding hikers and naturalists. If you want to get your 6-9-year-olds interested in the outdoors, take them to Ellis Woods Park and let them lead the way. There is a sign and grassy clearing to the left of the gravel loop.

On the right side of the clearing, you will see the trailhead signs. Bob Dougherty, Eagle Scout Project Leader, oversaw this project in 2009, and young children should be able to follow the arrows to lead his/her family for the half-mile hike, which includes lovely water views and will take you back to your starting point. There’s one caveat: there’s a massive downed tree at the halfway point. Don’t panic. Move around it toward your left and you can safely get back on the trail. If it has rained recently, it can be muddy. Before leaving the house, you might want to throw some boots in the car.

#4 I noticed a brick oven-type structure on the other side of the gravel loop, near the playground and municipal building. Upon closer inspection, I found it was a ceremonial flag-retiring incinerator. The plaque there mentioned the Continental Army soldiers who died at Valley Forge and were buried in the Ellis Woods Cemetery. I didn’t know anything about that and was glad to have a mini-history lesson added to my visit.

#5 As I went down Ellis Woods Road, heading back toward Route 724, I noticed a sign that said “Ellis Woods Cemetery 1787-88” and a bunch of continental flags flapping in the autumn breeze. I turned around, pulled into the small parking area and got out to pay my respects. Periodically stopping to make this connection – between the plaque at the park and the cemetery – may give young children a stronger sense of the history of their community and the struggles of a fledgling nation.

Ellis Woods Cemetery


With ample parking and amenities that will appeal to all age groups and physical ability levels, I highly recommend checking out Ellis Woods Park for your next family outing.

* After original publication, I learned that, as part of his Eagle Scout project, Andrew Hoffman researched, developed, and built the flag incinerator dedicated to theRevolutionary War Veterans buried at Ellis Woods Memorial Cemetery.

Location: 855 Ellis Woods road, Pottstown, PA 19465, at the East Coventry municipal building
Size: 15.0 acres
Suitability: All ages.
Facilities: Playground, tables, benches, protective awning during warm weather months, open space, wooded trails, gravel loop, official flag-burning area, indoor restroom & outdoor port-o-potty.
Activities and tips: Nature trail is a wonderful “starter park” for very young hikers. Flat, gravel loop near play area is ideal for seniors and dog walkers. Fabulous rest room during municipal office hours! (Port-o-potty at all other times.) Historical marker and nearby cemetery add cultural interest.
Hours: 8 am to sunset.

Location: Use 600 Ellis Woods Road, Pottstown, PA 19465 with a GPS or mapping program. It’s near the intersection with Buckwalter Road.

East Coventry Township
855 Ellis Woods Road
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 495-5443
(610) 495-9925 FAX
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. M-F

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Amity Township’s sports & recreational areas

In this parks series, we have been striving to encourage people of all ages to get out and explore what’s available in our area and try new things: fly a plane, hike a trail, go down the slide with your kids. It’s all about being active and taking advantage of the varied and free opportunities that await you in the parks! And then there are also the tried-and-true venues where local kids learn and compete in baseball, soccer and football. Youth sports are also an important part of a healthy lifestyle and a happy childhood, no matter where you live.

In Amity Township, there are several parks dedicated to youth sports. The Myron S. Wheeler Recreation area sits just behind the municipal building on Weavertown Road in Douglassville. This modest baseball park is close to the Amity Community Park we reviewed earlier in the series, so be sure to check that out if you are headed to the Wheeler fields for a game.

A little further west are two recreation areas: one for soccer and one for baseball. The Amity Park Road Recreation Area shares an entrance with the private soccer club, Amity AC Soccer’s fields and Amity Pool. Hill Road Recreation Area is close by and offers baseball fields, picnic facilities and a playground. Both of these parks are in very close proximity to the 420-acre Monocacy Hill Recreation Area, where we had so much fun with a scavenger hunt. That would be another great place to enjoy nature and wind down after a game.

Location: Directly behind the municipal building, located at 2004 Weavertown Road, Douglassville, PA 19518
Size: 2 acres
Facilities: 2 baseball fields and some seating
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Location: 55 Amity Park Road, Douglassville, PA 19518, adjacent to the Amity AC Soccer club fields and the Amity Pool complex
Size: 7 acres
Facilities: Soccer fields
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Location: 133 Hill Road, Douglassville, PA 19518, just north of route 422, between Loyalsock and Antietam Drives
Size: 10 acres
Facilities: Baseball fields, playground and picnic areas
Hours: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518

Recreational Facilities webpage

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Amity Park Rd. parking & fall foliage

Amity Park Rd. soccer field

Earlville’s Locust Grove offers playground & water views

If you have ever driven route 562 from Boyertown into Oley and Douglassville in the fall, you know how simply breathtaking the views are. Route 562 winds its way through farms and down into small valleys with new housing developments, only to open up again to vast country views. Just a few minutes’ drive out of Pottstown and you are in a much more rural setting.

When I got directions to the Locust Grove Park areas, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Driving back east on 562 from the Municipal Building at Amity, I was picturing either farm lands or new homes. Instead, as I turned onto Shore Avenue, I found the small neighborhood of Earlville and their parks.

Locus Grove Playground

The Locust Grove Recreation Area is a neighborhood playground, taking up only about the space of two houses, on Third Street between Shore Avenue and Amity Avenue. What this park lacks in size, it more than makes up for in facilities. There is a great playground, a merry-go-round, swings, a basketball court and room for active kids to just run around and have fun. This small pocket park is fenced, which is certainly a convenience and takes away some of the worry when you have several little kids to keep an eye on.

Manatawny Creek at Locus Grove

Locust Grove Open Space follows along the Manatawny Creek and Shore Avenue, and takes up just over an acre of ground in this neighborhood. There are several benches for sitting and enjoying the view. There had been a heavy rain the night before I visited, and the creek was running high and fast. With the morning sun still low in the sky, the view was idyllic – autumn at its finest.


The park has several spots where you can get close to the water, taking the concrete steps to get just to the edge. The railings were precarious and some of the concrete was cracked, but still usable. If you bring your little ones here, there is probably about a 60% chance they will end up getting wet! If you have limited mobility, the benches are the best way to enjoy the view since the concrete steps are steep and a little tough to navigate.

Stairs to creek. Use caution!

Location: In a mapping program or GPS, use 43 3rd St, Douglassville, PA 19518-8910
Size: About a half an acre
Suitability: A great, small, neighborhood park for kids.
Facilities: Playground, basketball court, small open space
Hours: Dawn till dusk

Location: 3rd Street and Shore Avenue, Douglassville, PA 19518
Size: 1.4 acres
Suitability: A good spot to enjoy the beauty of fall. Keep hold of your young children. If you want to get up close and personal with the water, please use caution when venturing down the steps. (See picture.)
Facilities: Benches, water access, open areas
Hours: Dawn till dusk

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518

Recreational Facilities webpage

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Monocacy Hill, where any day is a perfect day to visit

After reading the description of Monocacy Hill Recreation Area in the Penn State study, I was both excited to visit and surprised I had never been there before. I enlisted the help of a friend and her kindergartener to explore this huge place. Before we left, I made up a small scavenger hunt to take to the park, something I have done with my kids before. It’s nothing fancy, just a few simple things for the kids to find on a hike, and now they can find them and take photos with the digital camera, which makes it even more fun.

Our list (geared toward a newly reading kindergartener) included:

Something living
Something dead
Something green
Something orange
An animal
An insect

We stopped for a few minutes to check out the information board that sits at the entrance to the park and to read a little about the park and the types of plants that live there. I definitely learned something at Monocacy Hill, because I had no idea that there were invasive plants threatening our forests. The Conservation Association has, as one of its missions and part of its Forest Stewardship Plan, an initiative to combat invasive non-native plants. From its website:

BASICS: Plants, insects, animals taken out of their natural habitat may not have the natural predators and diseases that previously kept their population under control. So they are able to aggressively compete with native species for space, light, water and nutrients and spread through the forest displacing our native species. In our area, for example, deer will browse on native plants and rarely eat non-native food sources.

This recreation area is like “park meets museum,” because there are informational stops all along the path and many of the trees and shrubs are marked with the species, origin, and more. It certainly makes for more than just a walk in the park when you visit Monocacy Hill.

We set out on our way after a quick stop at the restroom (an outhouse-not fancy, but definitely a convenience especially if you’re taking a long hike.) We saw a sign marked “creek trail” and decided unanimously that we wanted to see the creek, so we started on the path. Our young explorer started immediately on his list and was very selective in what he chose for each of his scavenger hunt items. He didn’t take a photo of the first thing he found for each category; he wanted to be sure about his choice.

The path wound its way downhill and the scenery was breathtaking. I already love fall and all the colors it offers, but there was something special about this particular place and the sheer height of the trees. There was a light wind that would make the canopy sway and leaves of all shapes and colors made their way down to us.

The scavenger hunt was on – a log with moss was selected as something green, living and wood! Next up was a pile of leaves that were obviously dead. A striking orange, red and yellow leaf fit the bill for something orange, and the hunt (and hike) continued. By then point, I was already planning my next trip to Monocacy Hill and wondering how soon I could get back here with my kids and husband.

The path, which to this point had been a mixture of mud, leaves, gravel and some medium-sized rocks (which our scavenger hunter astutely told us meant we were nearing the creek) now turned into carved stumps. We were all thrilled as we forged ahead in pursuit of the creek and the rest of the scavenger hunt. As we passed another hiker with her dog, the path changed again, to boardwalks, and soon we found the creek, followed by shouts of “water!” and a request for the camera to check one more item off the list.

After passing the creek, we walked a bit further and then realized we had made a rookie mistake. In our enthusiasm to see the creek, we hadn’t looked at the map of the park trails! We had to decide whether to keep going and see if our path would circle around (which it didn’t seem to be doing) or to double back and retrace our steps. If we had unlimited time, I think we would have kept going, even not knowing what was ahead, but afternoon kindergarten awaited our scavenger hunter so we turned around.

Amazingly, the two hardest items on the scavenger hunt to find were the animal and the insect. My friend bravely turned over a log to uncover a characteristically gross specimen of insect, and we finally found a chipmunk to satisfy the animal requirement of our list. We followed the creek trail back up the hill and toward the entrance where we (finally) read the map. If we had gone just a bit further, our trail would have merged with another one and wound its way back to the main entrance, but there’s always next time.

Just for fun, we checked the mileage of the creek trail, which is 1 mile, and figured we walked about ¾ mile each direction-which took nearly an hour with several stops for scavenging, photo taking and just general staring at the beautiful setting. The Monocacy Hill Conservation Association has several events coming up in November so there is plenty of autumn left for exploring this beautiful site:

Walks in the woods: Sundays, November 7th and 21st at 1:30 PM
Moonlight Hike: Sunday, November 21st at 8:30 PM

Of course, you absolutely do not have to wait until a scheduled event to visit the Monocacy Hill Recreation Area. Thanks to the well-marked trails and the information spots scattered throughout the park, any day is a great time to have an adventure here.

Location: Geiger Road, between Hill Road and Limekiln Road in Amity Township
Size: 420 acres
Suitability: Anyone can enjoy connecting with nature at this beautiful park. Some of the trails are more challenging and would be tough for people with limited mobility. Check the map before heading out on the trails. Know your own physical limitations when you start the hike.
Facilities: Miles of trails, picnic tables, grills, study spots with information about the foliage and the area
Activities and tips: Check out the trail map before you go so you can choose how long you want to hike. There are short trails of a mile or less; for the more adventurous, hike the entire perimeter! Wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle, especially if you are taking one of the more challenging trails-these paths are natural and include stumps and boardwalks as well as stones and gravel. If you pack a lunch or snack, there are picnic tables near the Geiger Road entrance to the park.
Hours: Dawn until dusk

Monocacy Hill Conservation Association
P.O. Box 3
Douglassville,  PA  19518

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518

Recreational Facilities webpage

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Lake Drive Park & Recreation Area: A well-loved neighborhood park

Amity Township, just west of Pottstown along the 422 corridor, fits in well with the rest of the areas we have visited in this study. It was founded all the way back in 1719, giving it the title of “First in Berks,” and it has seen a tremendous amount of growth in recent years. Ask anyone who has lived there longer than 10 years and they will paint a very different picture of the township in the last millennium. These days, the new businesses, new developments and new schools sit right next to centuries’ old farms as well as houses from the middle of the 20th century.

The Lake Drive Recreation Area is in an established, residential neighborhood, just a few blocks off of 422 where new construction and new retail spaces have cropped up. You can get to the park by making a right off 422 West onto Park Lane. There is a small strip shopping center at that corner.  At Lake Drive, you make a right and follow the road to the park.

On both sides of Lake Drive are baseball fields, but the recreation area is on the right and there is plenty of parking. The park includes a skatepark, which was completely empty when we visited over the summer. We stopped in again over the weekend and found it full of kids on skateboards – some doing tricks and others just hanging out. The skatepark has been the topic of much discussion in the township since its opening in September of 2006. Some residents felt that it brought an unseemly element to the park, while others cited concerns over crime. But the skatepark remains open and was full of activity on the day we visited.

Although neither of my kids wanted to try out the skatepark on a skateboard, we did bring a scooter and a helmet, which they grudgingly wore once they realized the only way I was going to allow them to try out any of the cool ramps was if they wore a helmet. The amount of kids could be intimidating to someone who can’t skate very well, but they were nice enough to my kids and we felt comfortable using the park facilities.

Lake Drive Park is also home to two tennis courts, a nice picnic pavilion that is set back a bit from the rest of the park, and a modern playground, which has enough excitement for preschoolers and older kids as well. This, to me, appears to be a well-loved, well-used neighborhood park, with plenty of activities for the whole family. Its location, basically behind the Redner’s Market in Douglassville, makes it a great place for a fun pit stop when you are running errands. Even better – grab a book at the nearby (and wonderful) Gently Used Books and bring the kids to park for reading time!

Location: 520 Lake Drive, Douglassville, PA 19518, near the intersection with Rosewood Drive
Size: 25 acres
Suitability: The park is easily accessible for people of all ages and mobility levels. The pavilion is accessible by vehicles, so you could drive up there to unload supplies for a picnic or party.  No animals are allowed in the park, with the exception of service animals, so leave your pets at home when visiting.
Facilities: Playground, skatepark, baseball fields, tennis courts, picnic pavilion, basketball
Activities and tips: Bring a skateboard (and helmet) and give the skate park a try for something different.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518

Recreational Facilities webpage

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Amity Community Park: An active family destination

Just when my kids were starting to get antsy about yet another park visit, we turned onto Weavertown Road and Amity Community Park came into view. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my husband had barely gotten the car into park when the kids were already opening their doors and setting out to explore the extensive playgrounds that the park offers.

Set behind the St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, on Weavertown Road, across from the Amity Township Municipal Building and just before the Daniel Boone Middle School is this amazing community park. The Sunday afternoon we visited, the park was in constant motion. Tons of kids were on the playground, filling the space with high-pitched squeals, shouts of “you’re it!” and little voices pleading for just one more turn on the swings. That’s the good stuff of childhood and it was there in abundance in Amity Community Park.

With a perfect fall day as the backdrop-just a slight breeze and the still bright sun-we followed the walking path up to the pavilion where we could get a better view, both down to the playground and beyond to the expanse of ball fields, all full of players on this busy day. Teams from Daniel Boone Youth Sports were on some fields; others were occupied by the Berkshire Baseball Tournament League. And the telltale pop-up chairs and baseball bags all meant the same thing: fall baseball. 

In visiting all the parks in this series, I have noticed the variety of landscape we enjoy in this part of Pennsylvania. When you are in a park in Pottstown, you might notice that the walking path is steep in some places and flat in others. When you are standing in the middle of Amity Community Park, surrounded by the gorgeous fall foliage, you can’t help but notice that the landscape has changed dramatically thanks to the mountains of even this eastern portion of Berks County.

We made our way back to the playground where, as usual, the kids hit every single piece of equipment that spins, while my husband and I took advantage of the gazebo that sits between the two playgrounds for a little rest and some shade. Amity Community Park is a great, active destination for families.

Another thing to note about Amity Community Park, and the other parks in this township, is that they are open early and late – from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. After speaking with township officials, I learned that the township Board of Supervisors voted to extend the park hours for people who want to use the walking trails. While the park is open late, the trails are not lit. If you’re out after dark, or before the sun comes up, bring a flashlight and a friend. The pavilion and parking lot are the only lighted areas. 

Location: On Weavertown Road, just west of the intersection with Route 662 (Old Swede Road), across from the Municipal Building. Use 2004 Weavertown Road, Douglassville, PA 19518
Size: 44.6 acres
Suitability: Plan a family outing to Amity Community Park for the playgrounds and stay to watch a baseball game or have lunch at the covered pavilion. With paved walkways and a gently sloped walking trail, the whole family can enjoy this park.
Facilities: Playgrounds, open space, picnic tables and covered pavilion, seating area with shade, baseball fields, football/soccer/field hockey fields and internal trails
Hours: 6 AM to 11PM If you’re looking for somewhere to get your exercise early in the morning or late in the evening, the Amity parks are the place to go.

Amity Township
2004 Weavertown Road
Douglassville, PA 19518
Recreational Facilities webpage

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Ironstone Park: A place to re-connect

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.

Skipping stones

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.

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.

Douglass Township Parks & Recreation webpage a=1462&Q=454716&douglassNav=|27508|
For park pavilion rentals, see here.

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.


Ironstone Parking

Ironstone Pavilion

Open Field at Ironstone Park

Play equipment

Goose Run Park open for hunting; hikers use caution.

The Penn State Study does not mention Goose Run Park, an 82-acre property owned by Douglass Township. We learned of the park via the Township’s website and a phone call to the Township, but we did not visit the park, which has fairly new hiking trails.

Goose Run Park is open for hunting September through January. Hiking is still allowed in Goose Run during hunting season, and hikers and hunters alike should use caution.The Township website gives plenty of information about the dates of hunting season and the requirements for hunters. Permits are required. The use of rifles is strictly prohibited. Hunting is limited to residents of Douglass Township and one guest. Warnings and recommendations for hikers are posted at the park entrances on Goose Run Road and Levengood Road.

This is a good time to mention that all hikers enjoying Pennsylvania parks should make themselves aware of the hunting rules for any property, should dress accordingly, should stay on clearly-marked trails, and should use their own best judgment about when/whether to hike on any given day or at certain hours.


*We did not visit Goose Run, which was not in the Penn State Study. Information obtained from Township website & Township manager’s office.*

Location: There are two entrances: At the end of Goose Run Road and at approximately 1600 Levengood Road, Boyertown, PA 19512
Size: 82 acres
Suitability: Hunters who are Township residents; adult hikers and children & teens with adult supervision.
Facilities: Wooded trails
Activities and tips: Hunting is allowed for Township residents only. Contact the Township for rules and permit. Hikers should use caution during hunting season which is Sept. 18, 2010 through January 29, 2011.
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.
Douglass Township Parks & Recreation webpage
For park pavilion rentals, see here

Follow the parks series at Mission: Healthy Living, Positively!Pottstown, Twitter (PositivelyPtown), Facebook, and The Mercury.

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