The Prince William County Department of Parks and Recreation manages 42 miles of trails. Add in trails at the state and federal parks located in the county, and there are more than 100 miles of trails for people to enjoy for hiking, biking and even horseback riding.
Parks and Recreation Trail Planner Ryan Delaney said just about everyone can find a trail in the county that fits their needs. "Everything that we manage in the county is multi-use – bikes, pedestrians, and, if there's room for horse trailers, it's open to equestrians."
Trails open to equestrians, as well as hikers, can be found at James Long Park, Nokesville Park and Silver Lake Park, which has four miles of trails through forested areas and open meadows around a 20-acre lake. The county has several other trails for walking, hiking and biking scattered across the county that range from shorter to longer distances. Some have wooded, hilly terrain, while others run along creeks and rivers.
Delaney said that the trails in Prince William County are the best and easiest way to see the natural side of Prince William County. "You get a real great opportunity to see wildlife and nature and habitats, from the high piedmont at the Bull Run Mountains to wetlands and swamps on the eastern side of the county. They're one of the best recreational and outdoor experiences the county has to offer."
There are no fees to use the Prince William County trails which are open from dawn to dusk. Pets must remain on a leash, and pet owners must properly dispose of pet waste. The trails operate on a leave no trace policy, which means visitors must take all of their trash with them.
Prince William County is also home to a few national and state parks, which charge nominal entrance fees and offer a wide variety of trails.
The Manassas National Battlefield Park has more than 40 miles of hiking trails with interpretive markers that give information about the First and Second Manassas Battlefields. According to the park's website, there are opportunities for short and long hikes and trail maps are available at the visitor center. Equestrian trails also run through the battlefield.
Conway Robinson State Forest's 5.1 miles of hiking, mountain biking and horse riding trails run through pine plantation, mixed pine and old growth forest. The 444-acre park, at Heathcote Boulevard and U.S. 29, serves as a wildlife and wildflower sanctuary.
Prince William Forest Park, with 37 miles of trails on 15,000 acres, is part of the National Park Service and is the largest protected area in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The hiking and biking trails at the park run through high meadows and old-growth forests and cross numerous streams.
Leesylvania State Park, at 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive in Woodbridge, is a 534-acre park with eight miles of trails, many running along the Potomac River.
The future of the trail system in Prince William County calls for most of the trails to be connected to each other via greenways and roadside paths, existing trails and sidewalks across the county, Delaney said. "The overall goal is to have an interconnected network."
The vision for the eastern end of the county is to have trails connect from the Town of Occoquan to the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail as it enters Prince William County from Fairfax County. The trail would continue through the Occoquan Bay Wildlife and Featherstone Wildlife refuges. The connected trail would eventually run through Veteran's Park and the Rippon Landing-Rippon Lodge area down to Leesylvania State Park and then on to Prince William Forest National Park and Locust Shade Park before it leaves the county.
Eventually, the Broad Run Trail in the western end of the county will link up to Rollins Ford Park, as well as the paved trail along Linton Hall Road. James Long and Silver Lake Parks are linked via the Catharpin Greenway Trail System. Nokesville Park is a self-contained trail system.
For more information about trails in the county, visit www.pwcgov.org/trails.