05/10/2008- Chopawamsic Backcountry, VA Backpacking Trip

< Back

I had been wanting to do this for almost 15 years. So, on Saturday, May 10th, 2008, I spent the night in the 400 acre Chopawamsic Backcountry, which is a wilderness area that lies between Prince William Forest and Quantico Marine Base in VA.

I went to Prince William Forest Park to get my free backcountry permit to camp in the backcountry. I was worried about the weather as we were in between rain storms. Also, the ranger informed me that the Marines had replaced the lock at the entrance to the backcountry. So I would have to park my car on Joplin RD across from the American Legion Hall and add an extra mile each way to my hike.

So I started in around 4PM. I made a few wrong turns but finally made it to the trail head. I then hiked about a mile further along the Bobcat Ridge Trail to site number 4. I wasn't sure where exactly that I was supposed to camp. So I dropped my pack by a small stream/brook that ran across my site and started exploring. I found where Chopawamsic Creek was. Then I followed a faint yellow blazed trail up over a small ridge and it led to a sign that said site 5 camp site. So I assumed that I had to camp back by the trail. It looks like, at some point, that they renumbered the site posts on the trail but did not renumber the site markers themselves. Very confusing.

Anyway, I got the tent set up by this small stream/brook that I crossed first as it looked like it was going to rain again. I then ate a meal and, while doing so, the sun came out. So it ended up being a very nice afternoon and evening. I then discovered that the small stream/brook by my tent was really a spring that came right out of the ground about 30 feet from my tent. I lucked out this time! I relaxed, read, then entered my tent around 8PM. The night was a little cool but very quiet.

On Sunday morning, May 11th, 2008, I got up, ate, packed up, pumped some of that nice spring water for the trip home and walked out the loop along the Deer Ridge Trail to the road and then back to my car. So I ended up doing 2 miles yesterday and 3 miles today.

This was a nice trip. I was the only person in the backcountry this weekend. You are isolated but can hear I95 in the distance as well as hear occasional gun shots coming from Quantico Marine Base. Your cell phone also works. This is a nice way to spend a weekend. The only problems encountered on this trip were that I forgot my coffee cup, my candle lantern was stuck from a previous trip and my tent was pitched a little too steeply on the hill and I kept having to pull myself up to the top of the tent. Other than that, the Chopawamsic Backcountry is a great place to get away from it all.

Map of the Chopawamsic Backcountry


Mike C

Please note that there is a new entrance to the Chopawamsic Backcountry on Joplin RD VA619 that is currently in development (as of 10/27/2018) and should open in the near future.

Entrance sign on Joplin RD
Entrance sign on Joplin RD
Entrance sign to the Backcountry
Entrance sign to the Backcountry
Sign at trailhead
Sign at trailhead
Along the Bobcat Ridge Trail
Along the Bobcat Ridge Trail
Chopawamsic Creek
Chopawamsic Creek
My campsite
My campsite



< Back   |