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Hiker Comments for the Prince William Forest Hike - 1 to 33 of 33   
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By: Stacey Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 17, 2018
We did this as a two night hike. We did both North and South valley trails. It was a great trail, but very, very muddy. The South valley trail needed some new blazing. It was only blazed good closer to the visitors center. The trails had some good hills. I will definitely be back.

By: JD Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 20, 2018
This is a solid "beginner+" hike. It's more challenging than just a stroll through the woods but not as technically or physically demanding as some of the hikes out in the Shenandoah. We did the whole thing in about 3.5 hours with only brief pauses for water and to enjoy some of the scenery. I would definitely recommend this as a decent training hike for anyone gearing up to tackle some of the more demanding trails in the region.

One quick note regarding the switch from the white to blue blazed trail. It's a little confusing at first glance, because when you make the hard left turn you'll see blue blazes going in two different directions. You want to take the left option heading back up the hill.

By: Bobby Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, October 24, 2017
I really enjoyed this hike! It was a beautiful day and I only wished that the autumn colors were more vibrant instead of brown or dull but that is because the rainfall has been low. It did rain the night before though which made going over some of the rocks quite slippery. I only saw one other hiker and one fly fisherman which made it seem like you were the only ones there, very nice!

By: Jeremy Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 9, 2017
My buddy and I wanted to go on a day hike and we were looking in the Shenandoah because we are very experienced in that area. However, after learning he was on-call this weekend we needed somewhere close to the metro DC area. I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of this hike. It isn't the most challenging hike, but it is a very beautiful area and definitely more than your average stroll in the park. We wound up making a few changes to our hike path due to time concerns, but the map the rangers provide at the visitors center is very helpful once on trail and we were able to navigate without a problem.

I will say this however: it can be a bit confusing finding parking/the beginning of the trail. The signs around the park do not indicate clearly what buildings are which and landmarks can be hard to find. The trails will also occasionally have wooden poles off the trail that are marked orange and can be confusing where the orange blazed path actually leads. Pay no attention to these posts, the blazes on the trees is all you need to pay attention to.

Otherwise, great hike and I will be returning!

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!

By: Donna Adams Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 13, 2015
Great hike with variety, and surprisingly empty. It seemed we had the entire forest to ourselves. The river was a highlight. Not too strenuous but certainly a good workout. Will definitely go back to explore other areas.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Hiked, biked and explored the Prince William Forest Park in 4 hours with a 15 min. lunch. The convenient location in Northern Virginia was a plus. Great tips and images from the day trip experience:

By: Jim H Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 19, 2014
Wife and I decided to do this one as our first hike (as in ever). Thanks to National Park Week, today was free entry. Temps at 9am were in the upper 40s and it was partly cloudy.

Took along a copy of Hiking Upward's map and grabbed an NPS map at the Visitor Center.  I want to say the (HU) map and verbose instructions were great!  Never got lost and no wrong turns.  The extra info about confusing junctions and "busiest portion of the hike" were spot on.  There were some challenging spots climbing over rocks and in one (wet, rocky) spot a couple volunteers were rebuilding the trail (South Valley Trail just south of High Meadows Trail junction).

Even though it took us 5+15 to complete, we both enjoyed the hike.  We may walk this again in the fall, maybe in reverse. We'll certainly attempt it yearly.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, February 17, 2014
The Prince William National Park was free today so I decided I would save a whopping $5.00 and do this hike.  By the amount of cars parked I was not the only one who thought it would be fun to go hiking in 30 degree weather and a half foot of snow.  We all must've went in different directions since I saw no one during the whole 7.1 mile hike.  Which was great.  Overall this was a good hike.  The snow cover ground and the stream were running high.  Saw one wildlife (a deer).   

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 29, 2013
Why go shopping on Black Friday at Potomac Mills when you can hike 13 miles of trails at Prince William Forest.  Started at Visitor's center and followed Laurel Loop to South Valley to North Valley to Quantico Cascade to Mary Bird Branch to Little Run Loop to High Meadow to South Valley returrning to Visitor's Center on Laurel Loopa with a stop for lunch at Turkey Run Education Center.  Everyone in our group of 11 enjoyed this hike, and trails were adequately marked to follow.  Saw signs of beaver and most of this route was along either the Quantico Creek or South Fork of the Quantico Creek. 

By: Joe Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 7, 2013
I really didn't expect much going to Prince William Forest, but the confusing trails really made it worse. It's not a straining hike at all, but there is a path that goes around the entire park (26 miles). I planned out my hike from the park map and the map proved to be very inaccurate. Didn't show all of the paths, didn't show the roads that you cross over. I ended up just turning around after almost four miles and going back to my car. If you have all day to explore, and possibly get lost, then this may be the place for you.

By: Kacy Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 27, 2013
I went with some friends for a nice, leisurely hike. The areas along the stream are very scenic and peaceful and the trails are maintained well. We were a little disappointed in some of the ruins and "falls" we were hoping to see, but it was still a nice hike. It wasn't difficult, but there are definitely a few steeper areas where I felt a little winded. With the tree cover providing nice shad, it's not very tiring overall. I don't know if I'd go back unless someone else suggested it, but I'm glad I checked it out.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 23, 2013
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.

By: Brenda Rating: 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.

By: Francisco Rating: 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.

By: JV Rating: 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. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 14, 2011

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 16, 2011
What a great hike with your dog. We went on a Saturday with me a friend and dog. We did not follow this map because once you get to visitor center and start walking you will just want to get lost in nature. Only seen few other hikers about 10 people max all with dogs off leach. With having my dog unleashed this was a great. We hiked for 6 hours all very easy hike no real hills or climbs most trails are along streams. It's great for a relaxing hike with a dog.

By: Lisa Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 4, 2011
A very nice hike and perfect for my dog Ginger. It was challenging for this backpacking newbie. Did the South Trail and a part of Turkey Run. Overall, will go back however, the training at Quantico was a little strange and eerie.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 6, 2010
I lived nearby I went here almost everyday to walk the dogs. I give it 5 stars because it has everything that I want and it's close. It's an easy walk with plenty of streams for the dogs. I have not done this specific hike though. My favorite dog walking route is to park at parking lot E and follow the paved Lake One Road until I reach the geology trail/ Quantico Cascades Trail. This takes you down to a nice creek that's deep enough for the dogs to swim in. I continue to the right onto the North Valley trail which continues along the creek. You cross over a bridge which takes you past the old pyrite mine and onto a small boardwalk. Crossing back over another bridge, I then veer to the left along the creek on the South Valley Trail until I reach the larger North Orenda Road which takes you to the main road and parking lot D. I then follow the road, which turns into a one way road with biking and walking lanes back to parking lot E. It's flat most of the way but a decently long walk.

The weekends in the spring or summer can get busy, but the winter months are so quiet and peaceful. With the amount of water along this route, my labs are in heaven. I can't recommend this enough for people with water loving dogs.

By: RichmondGrrrls. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 9, 2010
This is a terrific hike, as long as you take it for what it is - a pleasant stroll through a pretty area with a great stream a some interesting historical sites - NOT a trek through the mountains. I appreciate both, and really loved both the convenience of this location.  I really like moderate-to-difficult day hikes on tricky terrain, and was pleased to find a few fun switchbacks and rock scrambles here along with the (admittedly boring) stretches of gravel covered flats and well maintained (and DEFINITELY boring) wooden bridges over streams. City dwellers here in the RIC really cannot beat the convenience factor at 1.5 hours from downtown Richmond.  A few general thoughts: this is not a day hike I'd want to make in the summer, because the lack of elevation means the temperatures and humidity are likely unbearable. I wouldn't do it in the winter months either, because that same elevation issue means that there are no vistas made impressive by the bare trees. You really wouldn't have much to look at. This is perfect for kids and dogs, or new-to-the-outdoors folks. If Three Ridges is your idea of a fun Saturday, do not bother with PWF.  But as a quick spring or autumn trip this is a place that I am definitely going to re-visit.

By: MikeBarb Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 3, 2009
We are middle aged and out of shape. We didn't follow the exact route. I don't think we would have made it. We've been in the park several times and will continue using it to get into shape. It's a beautiful place that's great for kids too. While there we saw all types of people. The most athletic were the two woman using the route as a jogging path. They even said the steep inclines took some doing. Being young and in shape must be great.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 18, 2009
I think this hike gets a little bit of a bad name. I personally enjoyed the hike because of the subtle variations in each one of the segments. I hiked this in a nice spring day in three hours. The beginning of the hike is a nice warmup to the rest of the circuit. It's key to set a comfortable pace now, because when you get to the back side of the loop, if you go too fast, you will hit the wall. The one thing I noticed about this hike immediately was that you need to pace yourself to make it to the end. It may say 7.1 miles but it felt a little longer, about 7.5-7.75 miles (trust me, at the end I noticed). I took into the hike a fanny pack with two 24 oz bottles of Gatorade and some Cliff bars perfect for this. After crossing the road for the 1st time, the 0.8 mile segment has a couple of sneaky hills that can catch you unawares. Once you join the bottom of the loop, which is white blazed, there's a couple of small rock scrambles to get over, and some nice spots to literally dive into the stream. There's a section tho that is switchbacks before crossing the road the second time that could be a struggle. There's plenty of flat sections tho thankfully to catch one's breath. I liked the transitions from crossing the road to the ascent up the hill - this steep section killed me. I normally don't hike with poles, but I could have used them to great effect here there are two stretches where it's probably 20% grade. The decent from this hill can be slippery when wet. The last 2km when you're on the blue trail, is a gradual uphill climb that will test your endurance. I struggle the last kilometer admittedly I was a bit tired. Overall, I think this is a great hike. Yes, not a lot of elevation change, but a trail that has some character, and a certain seclusion from D.C. that is attractive, especially when it's a lot closer than SNP.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 22, 2008
I did a slightly different circuit from the one described above, due to time restrictions. Overall, I'd say this was an okay way to spend an afternoon, but nothing I'd consider a real "hike". It's more of a ramble in the woods, with some hills and streams. If I lived closer I'm sure I would be here often for jogging (although be careful, since some sections have lots of rocks on the trails), but this isn't a place I particularly want to visit again. It was a nice trail to introduce one of my dogs (recently adopted) to walks in nature, though. Good for beginners working on fitness and for those who live nearby who want to get into the woods for awhile.

By: Kris Scofield Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 20, 2008
This is a great hike for beginners and people that feel too out-of-shape to tackle Old Rag or the bigger hikes in the area just yet. It is also an excellent starting hike for children and dog-walkers. The visitor center has maps available that outline different routes for different mile hikes. I did the 10 miler which will take you to some great sights through out the park. The pyrite mine is a must see.

Saturdays seem to the be the busiest day at the park. Children and families stick to the South Valley and Laurel trails. Trail runners and dog walkers will be a common sight on weekends.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, August 4, 2008
It was a quiet and solitude outing.  I only saw one person the whole time.  I guess that's what you get on a Monday afternoon in August.  The good thing about this hike is it's close to the Northern Virginia area, but that is the bad part.  I felt like I was taking a stroll through my local neighborhood park.  It was not very strenuous. I do recommend it for beginners who find the Shenandoah to rocky or hilly.  The park/trails are very clean and maintained. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I enjoy hiking in this area regularly. I usually drive to the parking lot at Malwavi Rd (named for Maryland-MA, Washington-WA, Virginia-VI) and walk down the fire road to the trail. The scenery is beautiful and peaceful.  I usually don't see anyone when I am out there which I prefer. I am definately not an avid hiker, but as a beginner I find it enjoyable and a bit of a challenge when you pick up the pace. I would reccomend these trails to someone who is looking for a less strenuous hike. Also, there are no trash cans in the area so make sure to leave with what you bring. ***The walk back up the Malwavi fire road is somewhat steep. I find it to be the final challenge in my work out***

By: Anonymous Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 22, 2007
The trail has no real terrain, no ascents, and it crosses the road several times - not givng you the feeling of being out in nature. It's more like a stroll through the woods than a hike. It would be good for small children, beginners, etc... but not anyone who expects a hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, January 14, 2006
We combined this one with the Pyrite Mine loop for a 12 mile work out. The additional route follows part of the North branch of Quantico Creek before crossing over the plateau to join up with the rest of the loop. The understory is alive with Dogwoods, Wild Azaleas and Red Buds in April and May. This additional loop seems to have less foot traffic and contains more Industrial History.

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