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Prince William Forest Park - Triangle, Virginia


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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
7.1 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
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4 hours plus a half hour for lunch
620 ft
Prince William Forest Park (National Park) $5 per car fee
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Park at the T.R.E.C parking area just past the campground. 38.58248, -77.37336

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.

From the parking area start up Black Top Road (path) for 0.2 miles before turning left on the orange blazed High Meadows Trail. The parks trail junctions are marked by concrete posts similar to the posts used in the Shenandoah National Park.

Follow the High Meadows Trail for 0.2 miles before crossing the first of many small streams over a wooden footbridge. Immediately after crossing the footbridge turn right at the concrete post, and trail junction, continuing along the orange blazed High Meadows Trail. In 0.2 miles cross over the blue blazed Taylor Farm Road (path) staying on the orange blazed trail. In 100 yards pass a very small cemetery on your left.

Follow the orange blazed High Meadows Trail for another 1.0 miles and cross Scenic Drive. From the other side of the road the High Meadows Trail continues for 0.8 miles where it ends the junction of the South Valley Trail and south fork of Quantico Creek. The concrete post trail markings at this junction are confusing, just continue straight on the now white blazed South Valley Trail, shortly turning left up wooden stairs then continuing along the left bank of the creek for 1.7 miles before re-crossing Scenic Drive.

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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Hiker Reviews For The Prince William Forest Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: DC Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 19, 2016
Great hike in close proximity to DC. Got there mid-day and did the full loop in 3.5 hours (15 min. stop for lunch). We didn't see too many other hikers. Helpful route description. Enjoyed it, and decided to do it again in the fall!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 16, 2016
We did this as a trail run on the Saturday of MLK weekend. Even for a holiday weekend, the trail was remarkably empty (except for the small section noted in the description that is near the parking lots). The weather was incredibly warm for January, and, even though it had rained the previous day, the trail was hardly muddy at all. For being so close to the DC area and its suburbs, the Prince William Forest seems both secluded and remote. The forest has some beautiful scenery to look at between the trees, the creeks you must cross, and the little Quantico River. The trail is very well maintained, and thanks for the tip about the confusing signage when switching from the orange to the white trail. We'll definitely be coming back for another run!

By: Mollie Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, January 12, 2016
I did this hike as a trail run beginning at parking lot A. From Parking Lot A the trail climbs steadily until it crosses the paved road. After that it becomes more rolling hills until the The High Meadows Trail again crosses the paved road. The run from parking lot H down high Meadows to the junction with The South Valley Trail and along through parking lot I is one of my favorite segments in the park to run. The trail is challenging, moderately technical, and very scenic. Aside from one large hill before the trail to parking lot C the rest of the trail back to parking lot A is mostly flat and easy. My GPS did say that the trail was closer to 8 miles than 7 FYI. Reception is spotty in the park so some variance could occur.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 14, 2015
Did the variation of this hike found in AMC's "Day Hikes in the Washington, DC Area", where we started the visitor's center and looped back down along Quantico Creek past the Pyrite Mine.  It was roughly the same length (8.0 miles or so), so I would recommend that one too.  Took around 3.5 hours.  I loved PWFP, it was a gorgeous place so close to DC.  It was a great half day in the woods, will definitely be back in other seasons (would also like to do trail running there, the trails seem great for that)

By: 2 Hikers Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 22, 2015
We did this hike today.  Weather was a bit cool, but OK.  This is a very good hike.  Was our first time hiking in PW Forest Park.  Enjoyed it a lot.  Nice change of pace from the typical mountain hikes in Shenandoah.  It's a pretty easy hike, with just a few fairly short steep parts.  The rest is either flat, or gently rolling.  The trails are well maintained, and mostly smooth (rock free).  Saw very few people.

Will do this one again!


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Late January
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