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Hike the Bull Run Occoquan Trail

Clifton, Virginia



13 miles

Route Type



Added by Alex D

A heavily wooded trail steeped in history with a water feature and ample parking just a few minutes from a bustling suburb of Washington, DC.

The Bull Run Occoquan Trail is located in Fairfax County, Virginia and is 50 miles outside Washington, DC and runs along the Bull Run waterway for 6.5 miles from Bull Run Marina to Fountainhead Regional Park. The blue blazed trail undulates for a total ascent of 1,510 ft and descent of 1,526 ft, although the elevation is only 332 ft. The trail markers are lettered from A to G, and generally a mile apart.

Park across the street from the Bull Run Marina in the large parking area. The trailhead begins at the end of the parking lot on an asphalt trail which quickly becomes dirt. At the sign “Fountain Head Park 6.3 mi”, turn left. The trail is shared by hikers, trail runners, bikers, and horses, and is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. There are several one-track bridges crossing small streams. During the summer months, you’ll see a fern grotto, tall pines surrounded by a “carpet” of small conifers, and a thick green forest which shades the trail well. In places, the trail has muddy patches, broken red bricks, red rocks, many tree roots, and sandy soil. According to the website https://www.novaparks.com/parks/bull-run-occoquan-trail , this area played a vital role at different times in our history from the Revolutionary to the Civil War. There’s a cemetery near the Fountainhead parking area, and a plaque for a 1781 wagon route.

Out and back, the trail is the perfect distance for a half marathon trail run. Bring your own water and sustenance. I didn’t see any facilities. Leave a change of clothes, towel, and extra food and water in your car for when you return. Mobile phone service is spotty. Use bug spray and a hat to ward off the occasional biting deer fly.

The trail can easily be hiked in the reverse direction because there’s also a large parking area at Fountainhead Regional Park. 

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