Despite sitting close to downtown Philadelphia, Chester County is surprisingly pastoral. It is also home to a number of historic covered bridges that are set amidst this beautiful landscape.
In fact, 15 different covered bridges still dot the landscape of the county (2 of which sit on the private land of the Brandywine Conservancy). This gives Chester County the fourth-highest number of covered bridges in the state, behind only Lancaster, Washington, and Columbia Counties.
During my travels around Chester County, I’ve had a chance to visit all of these incredible covered bridges. This has led me through some of the most beautiful and historic spots in southeastern PA.
For this article, I’ve divided the county’s bridges into three sections: northern bridges, central bridges, and southern bridges. Each section will continue bridges that are located relatively near to each other, which makes them perfect for a covered bridge road trip!
Northern Chester County Covered Bridges
There are five covered bridges located in the northern part of Chester County. These bridges are fairly close together and offer a great variety for visitors.
In fact, the entire driving time to see all five bridges is only about 40 minutes. Even better, the route starts and ends just a few miles off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, making this an easy side trip for anyone traveling on I-76 west of downtown Philadelphia.
The bridges below are listed east to west, but you could just as easily visit them in reverse order.
Knox Covered Bridge
Of all the bridges on this list, Knox Covered Bridge is probably the most seen by visitors.
Located on the grounds of Valley Forge National Historical Park, Knox Covered Bridge is frequently traversed by visitors to the park. And, while not on the official Encampment Driving Tour of the park, it is located just 100 feet off of the main road and does appear on park maps, making it an easy detour for anyone traveling around Valley Forge.
A covered bridge was originally built on this site in 1851, more than 70 years after George Washington and his troops camped in the area. After being destroyed by a flood in 1865, the bridge was rebuilt and has been rehabbed on several occasions, including in 2012.
The 65-foot long covered bridge spans Valley Creek and the white color really stands out from the surrounding foliage. It is named after both Pennsylvania Senator Philander C. Knox and Henry Knox, a general in the Continental Army, the first US Secretary of Defense, and the namesake of Knoxville, Tennessee.
Getting There: Parking at the bridge is rather tricky and requires a short walk along a reasonably busy road no matter what you do. The coordinates for the bridge are 40.087228, -75.456348.
The best bet is a small gravel area big enough for one car about 100 yards from the bridge on the opposite side from Valley Forge’s Encampment Tour route. Barring that, visitors can park at either Knox’s Quarters of the P.C. Knox Estate.
Just feet from the Chester County/Montgomery County border, this bridge is also a great option for those lamenting the lack of covered bridges in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Rapp’s Covered Bridge
The first of three bridges located along French Creek, Rapp’s Covered Bridge is just over 100 feet long and sits just two miles outside of Phoenixville. It was originally built in 1866 and was named after George Rapp, who owned several mills close to the bridge.
The bridge is located in a nicely landscaped park with a handful of picnic tables and the French Creek Heritage Trail located next to the bridge.
Because of the beautiful setting, Rapp’s Covered Bridge is one of the nicest to visit bridges on this list. However, despite having gone through a $1.5 million restoration in 2011, the bridge was closed when my photos, which were taken in October 2014.
However, even when closed the bridge is still quite beautiful and worth visiting.
Getting There: When visiting the bridge, the marker leads you to the parking area on one side of the bridge. If you are coming from downtown Phoenixville, your GPS may route you over the bridge.
Rapp’s Covered Bridge can be found at the following coordinates: 40.138245, -75.552876.
Kennedy Covered Bridge
Kennedy Covered Bridge is a 100-foot long bridge located in East Vincent Township of Chester County. It is located in a quiet area near a farm and some homes.
The bridge was originally built in 1856 over French Creek, but was refurbished in 1979 and then completely rebuilt after a fire in 1986. However, the bridge is evidently a copy of the original structure, though made with different, less flammable wood.
Getting a good look at this bridge can be difficult.
One side of the bridge features heavy underbrush along the edges of the creek, while the other side has the private property of the very nice-looking Kimberton Waldorf School and no trespassing signs on the other side of the road. Because of this, you might have to get your feet wet in the relatively shallow creek if you want to get a good look at the side of the structure.
Getting There: Parking at the bridge can be tricky because of the private land around the bridge. If you just visited Rapp’s Covered Bridge and are traveling down West Seven Stars Road from Kimberton Road, make a left turn a few hundred yards before the bridge at a stop sign. This is Hares Hill Road.
From here, take your first right onto the pot-hole ridden Mill Lane. At the bottom of the hill, you’ll see the bridge and a small area big enough to park several cars. You can also put the following coordinates into your GPS: 40.140540, -75.576443.
Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge
Also known as Hall’s Covered Bridge, Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge crosses either French Creek or Birch Run, depending on which website you go with. However, the creek is the same as French Creek on the map, so I’m not sure if it changes names (though the exact name of the waterway is probably not super important).
The bridge is the oldest of the 15 still-standing covered bridges in Chester County and was built in 1850. The bridge is 100-feet long and crosses the creek in two spans.
Getting a good view of the bridge can be a bit challenging because it is posted as private property on all four sides. However, the signs do seem to indicate that fishing in the creek is okay as the word “fishing” has been blacked out on the no trespassing signs and there are several signs about the creek being stocked with fish scattered around the bridge.
So, while I would imagine a few people looking at the bridge wouldn’t be a problem, I would definitely consider venturing past the signs as “proceed at your own risk.”
Getting There: Sheeder-Hall Covered Bridge is located in a rather rural area and spans the border between East Vincent Township and West Vincent Township. The bridge can be found at the following coordinates: 40.147743, -75.620624.
On the west side of the bridge, there is a small area big enough for one small car. However, on the east side of the bridge, there are ample places to pull off alongside French Creek Road. This is your best option for parking in my opinion.
Larkin Covered Bridge
While Sheeder-Hall is the most rural of the bridges in this article, Larkin is definitely the least. Located along the very busy Graphite Mine Road in Downingtown in Chester County, the bridge is easy to see, but difficult to access.
The bridge was originally built in 1881 and spanned 60 feet over the nearby March Creek. However, it was moved when Marsh Creek Dam was created in the 1970s. It was again moved in 2006 to a fitness trail adjacent to the road and a large neighborhood. In the amusing words of Wikipedia, “It currently spans nothing.”
The bridge itself is quite beautiful, but its current location certainly detracts from the overall beauty of the bridge.
Getting There: If all you want is a quick peek at the bridge, a drive along Graphite Mine Road will suffice. However, if you want to get a better look at the bridge, you’ll need to park a decent distance from the bridge and walk the paved path.
The bridge itself can be found at the following coordinates: 40.082482, -75.685580.
When school is out, you might be able to park at the nearby Pickering Valley Elementary School. Conversely, Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church may also offer some parking when not holding services, but neither location is ideal as they both require a bit of a walk to get to the bridge.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t a great place to park for visitors to the bridge.
Now that you’ve read about the five most northerly covered bridges in Chester County, check them out on the map below and then make plans to visit them.
Central Chester County Covered Bridges
Central Chester County is home to six historic covered bridges. Of these, two are located on the Laurels Preserve, which is owned by the Brandywine Conservancy. Unfortunately, you have to be a member of their organization to hike on this land.
The other four bridges are open to the public and are all located south of Route 30. All six bridges are listed here from roughly east to west.
Bartram Covered Bridge
Bartram’s Covered Bridge is located near Newtown Square and Ridley Creek State Park. It spans the border from Chester County into Delaware County, making it the only still-standing historic covered bridge in Delaware County, PA (out of the approximately 30 that once stood in the county).
Bartram’s Covered Bridge, which is also known as Goshen Covered Bridge, was built in 1860 and spans Crum Creek. It is either 60 or 80 feet long, depending on the source you go by.
The bridge was bypassed by a modern bridge in 1941 but was fortunately spared from destruction. Today, it sits in the middle of a small, but scenic park. Unfortunately, you can’t go into the bridge as a gate has been placed over the entrance.
Getting There: Bartram’s Covered Bridge is located a few miles west of Newtown, Pennsylvania. It can be found at the following coordinates: 39.989859, -75.437252.
There is room for several cars to pull off the road along Boot Road at the intersection of Boot Road and Goshen Road.
Gibson’s Covered Bridge
Gibson’s Covered Bridge, also known as Harmony Hill Covered Bridge, is the closest covered bridge to the communities of Downingtown and West Chester. That makes this one of the easiest bridges to see while you are exploring Chester County.
Gibson’s Covered Bridge was built in 1872 and is 78 feet long. It spans the East Branch of the Brandywine Creek and is the last covered bridge to cross any part of this important waterway.
The bridge is located in the middle of beautiful parkland but is along a somewhat busy road and near a stoplight, so it’s not the most peaceful location.
Getting There: Gibson’s Covered Bridge is located 7 minutes south of downtown Downingtown and 10 minutes west of downtown West Chester. It can be found at the following coordinates: 39.975968, -75.682935.
There is a parking lot on the northeastern side of the bridge which also serves as an access area for the East Branch Brandywine Trail.
Note that the bridge is only open to one-way traffic heading west towards Route 322.
Hayes Clark Covered Bridge
Hayes Clark Covered Bridge is the first of two covered bridges located on land owned by the Brandywine Conservancy. That means that this bridge should only be visited if you are a member of the organization as it is closed to outside visitors.
Hayes Clark Covered Bridge was originally constructed in 1884. In 1963, the bridge burned down but was rebuilt in 1971 as close to the original bridge as possible.
The bridge is 75 feet long and crosses Buck Run.
Getting There: Hayes Clark Covered Bridge is located on the Laurels Preserve between Coatesville and Kennett Square, PA.
The bridge is an easy walk from the parking area, but because it’s private property, specific directions won’t be listed for this bridge.
If you’d like to see it, please become a member of the Brandywine Conservancy first.
Speakman #2 Covered Bridge
Speakman #2 Covered Bridge, also known as Mary Ann Pyle Covered Bridge, is the second historic covered bridge located on the Laurels Preserve of the Brandywine Conservancy.
This bridge was built in 1881 and is 75 feet long. It crosses Buck Run a short walk from Hayes Clark Covered Bridge.
This is another very beautiful bridge as it is well maintained and went through a full rehabilitation in 2014.
Getting There: Like Hayes Clark Covered Bridge, Speakman #2 Covered Bridge is located on the Laurels Preserve between Coatesville and Kennett Square, PA.
Please only visit if you are a member of the conservancy.
Speakman #1 Covered Bridge
Speakman #1 Covered Bridge is located a short distance from Speakman #2 Covered Bridge and is actually a twin of #2.
Built in 1881 and 75 feet long, this bridge crosses Buck Run upstream of the Laurels Preserve. Unlike its twin, it can be visited by the public.
It’s worth noting that shortly before my visit, the bridge was damaged by a vehicle. It was rehabilitated in 2016 and is in great shape today.
Getting There: Speakman #1 Covered Bridge is located five miles south of Coatesville. It is also the closest publicly-accessible covered bridge to Longwood Gardens.
The bridge can be found at the following coordinates: 39.929385, -75.822568.
There is room for several cars to pull off of the road on Covered Bridge Road on the southwestern end of the bridge.
Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge
Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge is one of two covered bridges that span the border between Chester County and Lancaster County. It is also the most upstream of the four historic covered bridges that cross the Octoraro Creek.
This bridge was originally constructed in 1880 and is 80 feet long. It’s located in a relatively isolated part of the county near Parkesburg, PA.
Getting There: Mercer’s Mill Covered Bridge is located a short drive from Parkesburg, home of a Victory Brewing Company brewery. It is also near Atglen and Christiana.
It can be found at the following coordinates: 39.931468, -75.981625.
There is room to pull off the road on the eastern side of the bridge in Chester County.
Southern Chester County Covered Bridges
Southern Chester County is home to four beautiful covered bridges.
Three of these bridges are clustered together southeast of Oxford, PA near the Maryland border. The first one listed is a few miles west of Oxford.
They are listed here from west to east.
Pine Grove Covered Bridge
Pine Grove Covered Bridge is, in my opinion, one of the most scenic covered bridges in southeastern Pennsylvania. It is also one of the two covered bridges that bridge the border from Chester County into Lancaster County.
At 198 feet in length, Pine Grove Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge in either county. It crosses the Octoraro Creek just downstream of two dams on the waterway. In fact, the smaller of the two dams is located just upstream of the bridge and adds a lot of beauty to this spot.
This covered bridge was constructed in 1884 and is the westernmost of Chester County’s covered bridges.
Getting There: Pine Grove Covered Bridge is located just below Octoraro Lake about five miles west of Oxford, PA. It can be found at the following coordinates: 39.793574, -76.044660.
There is a large parking area on the Lancaster County side of the bridge that is great for those wanting to see the bridge or recreate in the area.
Linton Stevens Covered Bridge
Linton Stevens Covered Bridge is located southeast of Oxford, PA. Built in 1886, it is one of the longest covered bridges in Chester County at 102 feet.
This bridge crosses the Big Elk Creek is a forested part of southern Chester County. This makes the setting for Linton Stevens Covered Bridge, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in the region.
Getting There: Linton Stevens Covered Bridge is located southeast of Oxford, PA near the Maryland border. It can be found at the following coordinates: 39.756538, -75.912432.
There is room for a car to pull off the road on the southern end of the bridge.
Rudolph Arthur Covered Bridge
Rudolph Arthur Covered Bridge, also known as Rudolph and Arthur Covered Bridge and Camp Bonsal Covered Bridge, is the closest of the bridges listed here to the Delaware border.
Built in 1880, it was constructed on the site of a paper company owned by the Rudolph family and the Arthur family. This bridge crosses the Big Elk Creek and is 80 feet long.
Like Linton Stevens Covered Bridge, it is also located in a forested section of the creek’s banks.
Getting There: Rudolph Arthur Covered Bridge is located in southern Chester County at the following coordinates: 39.745907, -75.882232.
While this is a quiet road, there isn’t a great spot to pull off to the side of the road here, so make sure to stay near your car should you opt to exit it briefly while visiting this spot.
Glen Hope Covered Bridge
Glen Hope Covered Bridge is the southernmost covered bridge in Chester County and might be the most southern covered bridge in all of Pennsylvania.
In fact, it’s located less than half a mile north of the Maryland border.
This bridge was originally built in 1889 but was destroyed by fire in 1987. It was rebuilt a few years later and is in great shape and in an incredibly beautiful setting.
Glen Hope Covered Bridge is 65 feet long, making it one of the shortest covered bridges in Chester County, PA. It crosses Elk Creek.
Getting There: Glen Hope Covered Bridge is located just north of the Pennsylvania/Maryland border and southeast of Oxford, PA. It can be found at the following coordinates: 39.726937, -75.907661.
There is a bit of room to pull off on the northern side of the road about 100 yards from the bridge.
Looking for more places to visit nearby? Check out the last covered bridge in Philadelphia, the covered bridges of Bucks County, the Nottingham Serpentine Barrens, and the Brandywine River Museum of Art.
[Click here for information on how to use the coordinates in this article to find your destination.]