The Prince William Forest Park established in 1936 has 37 miles of trails on it's 15,000+ acres, and is the largest protected natural area in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. The circuit hike we have mapped here is just one of many possible combinations in it's vast trail system.
In 0.1 miles past the road pass the Taylor Farm Road Trail on your left, then going underneath Scenic Drive in another 0.2 miles. Continue along the white blazed trail following the stream for 0.3 miles where the trail ascends a small hill for the steepest part of the hike. The remaining section of the white blazed South Valley Trail is the busiest portion of the hike as the trail is easily accessible from three parking areas on Scenic Drive.
In 0.7 miles the white blazed trail crosses Scenic Drive again, and in 200 yards, and just before a small wooden footbridge, turn left on the blue blazed trail. There is no concrete trail post here. Immediately turn left uphill on the blue blazed Turkey Run Ridge Trail. In 0.6 miles cross Scenic Drive for the last time and follow the blue blazed trail for the remaining 0.7 miles back to the Turkey Run Education Center and parking area.
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Reviews For The Prince William Forest Hike (5 Most Recent)
This place is great. Me and a buddy completely avoided the main trails and crowds by going to the Chopawamsic back country area. (If you go to the main PWF site and click on the camping link its one of the options towards the bottom) Its a bout a five minute drive from the visitor center out the park and then along a dirt road. Park the car and there is a two mile loop with 8 primitive campsites spread out over the two miles. The hike is not challenging although it does offer some limited elevation changes and switchbacks. Multiple streams converge in the area and you can find some cool places just off the trail.
The campsites all looked pretty great. #3 is closest to the water but also not to off the loop trail. We stayed at #7 which was furthest from the water but you couldnt even see the trail, or any trail for that matter, from the actual site. It was completely private and had enough decently flat ground to set up two tents and another sitting/kitchen area. We chose to hike to #7 the "long" way around the loop (1.5 miles) just to check out the other sites and spend a little time on a trail. Once setting up we finished the loop, walked past the car again, and then headed down to a great spot on a river. Saw no one, heard no one, set up the hammock above the water and took a snooze. Heard tons of animals but didnt see anything but birds. You can at times here gun fire (which is awesome) from Quantico.
I plan to take my girlfriend here in the next coming weeks (she's new to camping/hiking) and think the length of the loop and small challanges it offers would be perfect for a newbie. It is very much a small dirt or undergowth path. Rarely wide enough to walk next to someone so it does feel like your out there in the woods. I highly recommend this to people looking to get away from the city and noise for a night or two.
The sites are considered primitive so you need to bring in your own water/filter/boil. There are streams everywhere that look delicious but I had enough on me already and didnt want to taste iodine tablets. There are no built up camp pads, picnic tables, fire rings, or bathrooms (remember to bring TP). The sites are simple slightly de-brushed areas. AKA perfect.
Almost forgot....its cheap as hell. I think for most people it would cost $5 a head to camp there, which is just the park entrance free. I am active duty so we spent a total of $0 which was a great surprise. Lastly, cant beat the proximity to the city. Took us about an hour to get down there thanks to the wonder that is 95 but coming home (capital hill) took just over 30mins. Much shorter than the hike...
Go and camp. You wont be dissapointed.
Date of Hike: Saturday, January 19, 2013
This is a great hike and the scenery around the streams is fabulous. I wouldn't rate this as a 2 as there are multiple levels to climb and get around. This is a workout.
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 14, 2012
I gave this hike 4 stars because I think it's a decent hike for being only about 45 minutes from DC. If I had driven 2 hours or more to do this hike, I probably would give it 3 stars. There was not a lot of rainfall in the days before the first couple streams we saw were pretty much dry. I liked the 2nd half though because it is next to a larger stream and it's nice and peaceful overall. Definitely a nice little getaway from the city for a day. Would have been really cool to do this hike in the rain though, I would have just worn my waterproof hiking boots and some rain gear and I think that would've been awesome.
Date of Hike: Sunday, November 20, 2011
It's nice that over half the hike is along the stream. Its not at all strenuous, with very little elevation change. There were lots of families and their dogs out for a stroll on a nice day. It felt like a bit of overkill to even have a hiking stick, I didn't need it.