Bordered by Quantico Marine Base, Prince William Forest Park is a national park located 35 miles south of Washington D.C. near Triangle, Virginia. Most people zoom by and never notice the 15,000+ acres of eastern Piedmont forest, 37 miles of hiking trails, and 21 miles of bicycling roads. I’d feel sorry for them if I wasn’t busy enjoying the solitude. So let’s not tell them.
Located near many historical and local attractions Prince William Forest Park offers rustic cabins, RV hookups, and both front and backcountry campground locations. With a $5 park entrance fee and a $15 fee for frontcountry, cabin and RV sites, this is an option for inexpensive lodging. If you’re roughing it, a backcountry camping permit must be obtained free of charge from the visitors center. All sites and permits are available on a first come first serve basis.
The trails at the park are well maintained and easy to navigate. This is a good starter location for young children and new hikers. The rangers at the visitors center can help you find a circuit that right for your group. Leashed pets are also allowed on the trails.
The majority of the South Valley trails will take you along Quantico creek and it is one of our favorites. It has interesting locations to sit and rest or have a picnic. The smallest hikers will appreciate using the many foot bridges for a game of pooh sticks or entertaining Daddy while enjoying some juice. There are plenty of opportunities for “rock climbing” as well.
If you’d like to make your walk in the woods educational be sure to stop at the visitor center to look at the displays and pick up a few brochures. You can also get information about letterboxing and the Junior Rangers. A great stop for adults and children alike is the reclaimed pyrite mine. There are dramatic before and after pictures at the site. It’s also fun to walk along Quantico Creek and see the fairy dust (pyrite compounds) sparkling in the sand.
Food is not sold at the park so you will need to bring your own snacks and drinks. It is also a trash free park so you must leave with everything you came in with. Don’t forget extra trash bags for the leftover drink containers or the little extras left by the family dog.
All Photos by Sherry Roberts