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Wolf Run Shoals - Clifton, VA

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
4.3 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
2.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
541 ft
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Park at the end of Wolf Run Shoals Road. 38.72804, -77.35877

The Wolf Run Shoals hike starts on the upper end of the Occoquan Reservoir, and is one of 4 hikes in the Bull Run and Occoquan trail system  along with Fountainhead Park (7.2 mls), Hemlock Overlook Park (3.8 mls), and Manassas Bull Run (5.3 mls).  This out and back hike passes through several gullies on wide well maintained trails. The highlights include Wolf Run, partially obstructed views of the reservoir, and 2 small loop sections through older forest.

Wolf Run Shoals is also a historic landmark spanning several centuries. The link trail from the parking area is part of the Washington-Rochambeau revolutionary route of 1781. The Continental Army under the command of George Washington and Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau marched from Newport Road, RI, to Yorktown VA along this path. During the American Civil War, both the Confederate and Union Armies considered Wolf Run Shoals a critical crossing point on the Occoquan River through 1863. In January 1863, the Vermont Brigade’s 12th and 13th infantry camped on the north side of the ford, with pickets being posted on the south side of the ford by the confederate troops from December 1861 until March 1862.

  • Mile 0.0 – From the parking area at the end of Wolf Run Shoals Rd continue down the connector trail for 50 yards where the trail arrives at the intersection of the blue blazed Bull Run Occoquan Trail (BROT). Continue downhill on the BROT and the Occoquan Reservoir becomes visible through the trees. Make a hard right down through the gully and cross a bridge over a small creek.
  • Mile 0.19 – After crossing the creek the blue blazed BROT will pass over another rise with views of the reservoir. Just past the high point arrive at a 4-way intersection.
  • Mile 0.37Turn right staying on the blue blazed BROT  where the trail is part of an old park road.  Soon the BROT will make a sharp turn left of the old road downhill. Pass the BROT Mile 3 marker then arrive at a wooden footbridge and Wolf Run.
  • Mile 0.79 – Cross Wolf Run where the trail turns left towards the reservoir through a flat wetland area. The trail will climbs over a ridge and becomes wider. Follow the trail through a small saddle past the Mile 4 marker and gently descend to the intersection of the yellow blazed trail. The yellow blazed trail is an original section of the BROT before it was rerouted to avoid passing close to a residential area.
  • Mile 1.68Continue right on the yellow blazed trail where it shortly descends towards a white residential house. Follow the yellow blazed trail behind a shed and along the left side of a private driveway. You are very close to private property, so be careful to stay on the trail and not trespass. The yellow blazed trail then passes around the back of another private house before turning left off the wider trail and entering the woods. Follow the yellow blazes downhill for 0.2 miles back at the BROT.
  • Mile 2.18Turn left on the blue blazed BROT passing through another small gully then steadily climbing back to the yellow blazed intersection you took earlier.
  • Mile 2.6 – Stay straight on the blue blazed BROT retracing your steps past the Mile 4 marker, along the ridge, and back to the wooden footbridge crossing Wolf Run.
  • Mile 3.64Immediately after crossing Wolf Run turn right on an unblazed trail that initially follows Wolf Run. The trail will climb towards the ridge and arrive at the 4-way intersection that you passed at Mile 0.37.
  • Mile 3.89 – Continue straight at the 4-way intersection back onto the blue blazed BROT, re-crossing first stream, then climb up to the cut and parking area.
  • Mile 4.3 – Arrive back at the parking area in Wolf Run Shoals Road.
Early February
Wolf Run Shoals Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: rloj Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 17, 2017
Was a very nice trail. The markings and directions were right on. One car when we got there. Probably saw close to 20 people. Should be nice in the fall.

By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 26, 2017
Well established trails. Not a great deal of people out, but there were a several on mountain bikes (heads up!). Because of the bikes, I would probably not take a large group on this hike, but ok for a family with older kids. I missed the intersection of the yellow trail as described in the instructions, but was able to get on it at the other intersection. After mile marker 4, you'll about a quarter mile before you'll see a yellow blaze on the left. The intersection is also marked with some rocks near the yellow-blazed tree. Took me about an hour and half at a moderate pace with no stops. Good hike!

By: Sean Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 5, 2016
A pleasant hike. No other cars in the parking area at the start or finish, just saw one other on the trail. On the return I missed the connector to the parking lot but saw the parking lot from the other trail I was on about 200 feet away, and just cut across. (I continued on the blue trail instead of taking a slight right at the intersection to the connector -- no big deal.)

It had been raining, reduced to a drizzle at the time of my hike. The trail was muddy in spots but not too muddy for my trail runners. The trail is generally in good condition and comfortable. A nice hike close in to DC, not too long, not overly challenging in terms of elevation. A few nice streams to look at, but views not as striking as those at the nearby Hemlock Overlook trail. Unlike Hemlock, this is not near a shooting range, so it's much quieter. Many more people at Hemlock, also.

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