Hike a 7 Mile Loop Through Part of Prince William Forest Park

Rate this Adventure 7.4 miles  - Loop Trail

Added by Barry Holloway

Only 30 miles south of downtown Washington, DC, a woodland oasis awaits in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia. With 37 miles of hiking trails, there is a lot to explore.

The entrance to Prince William Forest Park is ¼ mile from Exit 150 off of Interstate 95 south of Washington, DC. Signs lead less than a ½ mile further to the visitor center and Pine Grove picnic area. This review provides a 7.4 mile loop through woods, along streams, past waterfalls, and a high ridge.

Consisting of 15,000 acres, it’s the largest green space in the metropolitan DC area. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, it was used as a model for other parks across the United States where inner-city children and families could explore the great outdoors. Start at the visitor center where park rangers can answer your questions and provide trail maps and brochures.

From the visitor center, walk a short distance to the Pine Grove picnic area parking lot. At the far end is Laurel Trail which leads downhill to a bridge over South Fork Quantico Creek; turn right onto South Valley Trail. This portion of the trail follows the creek and offers many scenic locations to stop and relax.

After crossing Quantico Creek, just above where South Fork Quantico Creek flows into it, the trail name changes to North Valley Trail. Pass by the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine site, an active mining location and community from 1889 to 1920. Remnants are seen along the trail, but reclamation has returned most of the area to a natural state.

Continuing along the creek, you’ll pass several small waterfalls before reaching the Quantico Cascades Trail uphill to the left. Follow it to parking lot E and cross Scenic Drive to continue on Mary Bird Branch trail toward the Turkey Run Education Center. Once there, turn left and walk along the road for a short distance to reach Turkey Run Ridge Trail off to the left. The trail follows the ridge before descending to intersect with South Valley Trail. Turn left and you’ll soon return to the bridge you crossed near the beginning of the hike. Retrace your steps uphill to the parking lot.

Although it’s not a strenuous hike for most, after nearly 7.5 miles of hiking, it felt good to sit at a picnic table to chill and eat some of the remaining snacks before returning home.

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers

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