Little Bennett Regional Park has a labyrinth of over 21 miles of trails in its 3,700 acres. There are also 16 historic sites in the park that can be found in the full brochure, with the circuit we have mapped here taking you past the Norwood Tobacco Barn, Wims Meadow, and Wilson's Mill. There is also an extensive wetland area on the Western Piedmont Trail, which is home to the Eastern Bluebird and Timberdoodle.
If you're looking for a great boy scout camping area the hike-in campsite on the Purdum Trail is one of the best we've seen. Open from March through November, the site can be reserved for a nominal fee at 301-528-3430.
The hike outline below is a 6.2 mile circuit that uses many of the multi-use trails on the northern side of Little Bennett Creek. Horses and mountain bikers are likely to be encountered on this circuit. If you're looking to add a little more distance, you can make the hike 10+ miles by adding Bennett Ridge, Whitetail, and the Stoney Brook trails on the south side of Little Bennett Creek.
Mile 0.0 – From the Kingsley parking area the Hard Cider trailhead is located to the right of the kiosk. Follow the Hard Cider Trail as it winds over several small ridges and crosses a footbridge then arrives at the intersection of the Purdum Trail.
Mile 1.0 - Turn left uphill on the Purdum Trail and in a short distance the trail will split. Take the left fork and continue to where the trail joins a gravel service road.
Mile 1.1 - Stay left on the service road for 0.3 miles to the hike-in campground. The campground has several large fire rings, picnic tables, as well as wooden seating. After passing the campground the Purdum Trail passes the intersection of the Loggers Trail in another 0.1 miles. Continue straight on the Purdum Trail to the Browning Run Trail intersection.
Mile 1.6 - Turn left on the Browning Run Trail as is gently climbs a rise. At this point the trail is wide and resembles an old horse and carriage lane. At the top of the rise there is a field to the right, and the trail turns left downward. Follow the trail downhill and cross a creek and wooden walkway. After crossing the walkway the trail enters a field. Stay right and continue on the Browning Run Trail to the top of the rise to the intersection of the Pine Knob Trail.
Mile 3.3 - Turn right downhill on the Tobacco Barn Trail passing another field on the left. The Tobacco Barn Trail will then cross Browning Run. There is no footbridge at this crossing, and after heavier rains this can be a challenge to ford. The Tobacco Barn Trail will climb through another field and pass an unofficial trail on the left, then arrives at the ridge an ruins of the Norwood Tobacco Barn. Jeremiah Norwood owned a 68 acre farm on this site in the late 19th century.
Mile 3.8 - The Tobacco Barn Trail now turns right uphill. Continue straight on the Timber Ridge Trail. Shortly pass another unofficial trail on the right where the Timber Ridge Trail turns left. Cross a wooden walkway, after which the trail steeply climbs a rise. Continue to where the Timber Ridge Trail ends at the intersection of the Pine Grove Trail.
Mile 4.4 - At the junction of the Pine Grove Trail turn left. Pass through a stand of pine, then descend to the intersection of the gravel Western Piedmont Trail.
Mile 5.0 - Stay left on the gravel service road/Western Piedmont Trail and immediately pass the small Earls' Picnic Ground. Follow the gravel road until it crosses Browning Run over a small bridge. Turn right taking a side loop past Wims Meadow. James 'Jim' Wims was a local farmer who purchased the property in 1919. He took the field out of production, and converted it into a recreation area for children to play baseball. Continue on the side trail until it rejoins the Western Piedmont Trail.
Mile 5.4 - Turn right on the gravel Western Piedmont Trail for the remainder of the hike back to Clarksburg Road and parking area. On the way to the parking area pass 2 trail intersections, as well as a wetland area that is home to both the Eastern Bluebird and Timberdoodle.
I hike Little Bennett quite frequently, and very much enjoy the experience over walking around suburban sidewalks that are close by. On this day, I even helped a turtle off of the access road to the hike-in camp on Purdum trail, so there is wildlife in the park!
I believe that a new trail manager was assigned to the park in the last year or so, and they have been aggressively re-routing a LOT of trails in the park, so use the most recent map you can find. The re-routing has been outstanding, fixing lots of long-term problems with erosion and construction of some trails directly along the fall line.
The Tobacco Barn trail, for example, has been re-routed to avoid the wet crossing and the highly eroded climb. It now ends a few hundred feet up Clarksburg Road from the parking area, so there is a short roadwalk back to the nearby parking area where the trails continue.
If you live in the area, it is a real nicety to have such a park close by that you can get a good hike in the woods.
Date of Hike: Sunday, June 28, 2015
I've been to this park twice and hiked just about all of the trails. I started out to do this one the first time but then ended up at the wrong parking area, so I just kinda went with it. Little Bennett has a fire road bisecting it, and there are basically two big loops with interconnecting trails making it possible to do a variety of distances. You can tailor your hike to fit your needs, and maps are posted at most entrances. It's a nice park, and just about any route will take you through forest and some lovely meadows. The park is also home to the endangered Allegheny mound-builder ant. I was too squeamish to venture down the trail that visits a number of their mounds, but you see many on nearby routes. They're sure impressive!
This is a nice half-day hike. It visits one of the prettiest meadows in the area, and winds through peaceful woods. You may encounter deer, black snakes, chipmunks, etc. but for me the highlight was seeing the many birds and butterflies in the meadow. It's hilly enough that you feel like you've done something but not so much that you'll be exhausted. There is a stream crossing that the hike description mentions can be difficult after heavy rain - this is not an exaggeration! I ended up taking off my boots and going through the knee-deep channel barefoot. No big deal, but it's a consideration if you are doing this in winter. It'd be relatively easy to pick another route and go around, though.
Date of Hike: Saturday, March 29, 2014
First, this is a really awesome site. I really appreciate the work that you folks do to provide this information. The pictures, the arrows, the description - all of it is great.
Of course none of that seemed to prevent me from parking at the wrong lot. Note to others: if you park in the wrong spot, none of the directions seem to line up well....
Once it got to the right lot, the directions were great, the pictures spot-on.
The hike was fine. Not challenging at all. The rain made it slippery and you had to walk around some of the really sloppy spots, but a nice day in the woods. Liked the campground. Built a small fire in the rain in one of the pits just to test my skill. Love the vasoline/cotton-balls.