On Sunday, 12/06/2020 Tom O'Brien and I did a 5 mile loop hike around Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, VA
This hike was supposed to occur on Saturday, March 3, 2018. But a massive wind
storm which was later named "Treemagedden" downed thousands of trees in Prince
William Forest Park. That day it was just Tom O'Brien and myself. We were
not sure if PWFP was open or not. So we did a hike at
Andrew Leitch Park that
day instead. The PWFP hike was rescheduled for Saturday, December 5, 2020.
But that day they were expecting strong rain. So that hike was again
postponed until Sunday, December 6, 2020. This time again it was just Tom
O'Brien and myself. And this time we completed this hike.
On Sunday, December 6, 2020, as usual we met at the parking lot of Prince of Peace UMC and left at 1:00 PM for Prince
William Forest Park. I was a bit concerned with the late start, the long
distance and only about 4 hours of remaining daylight. It was not an issue
in the end. We had to drive to the park via VA234->Van Buren RD->
Mine RD->US1->and Joplin RD because the Joplin RD
bridge was still closed and in the process of being repaired.
We arrived at the park at around 1:20 PM. We went to the GPS coordinates of
where I asked people to meet us that were coming directly to the park. There
were none. So we started the hike.
Initially, we had a .5 mile down along a section of the Laurel Loop Trail. It
was an easy down. However, It would be a moderate up at the end of this hike.
We then crossed Quantico Creek South Branch on a bridge and turned left onto
the South Valley Trail. We hiked it for about a quarter mile. This was an
easy stretch. When the South Valley Trail turned left we kept straight on the
North Orenda RD. This was a fire road that was an actual road in this area
before it became a national park. It was a one mile easy to moderate up.
We passed the Johnson Cemetery on the way to the scenic drive. When we got to
the drive we took a short break, turned right, walked about 300 feet and turned
right onto the Pyrite Mine RD.
This was also a road in the area before it became a national park. We traveled
it for about a half mile, then turned left onto the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine
Trail. It was also about a half mile and took us past some of the mine ruins.
We also passed a sealed mine shaft. This trail was easy and mostly downhill.
There was a lot of water on this trail.
At one point we met an oncoming couple. They jumped onto the adjacent old
road for a stretch as did we because the trail was water logged. We walked
over a new bog bridge, then made it to the North Valley trail.
We crossed over Quantico Creek North Branch and walked along a section of
the North Valley Trail that I presently maintain. Unfortionately, I will
be giving up my volunteer activities in this park at the end of this month due
to time constraints among other things. We passed another sealed mine shaft, then two boardwalks and finally came to the Pyrite Mine RD bridge, which gave us
a view of the confluence of the north and south branches of Quantico Creek.
This was an easy, level half mile of trail.
Next we turned left onto the South Valley Trail. This mile of trail would be
the most difficult. It was level, then had a good 200 foot up along a trail
bed that had some roots and rocks on it. Then we did a 200 foot down, crossed
a few streams on board bridges, crossed some rocky areas and then made it back
to the bridge over Quantico Creek South Branch and the Laurel Loop trail for our return
The Laurel Loop Trail was the stick of this lollipop loop. It was a moderate
up. We did it and ended the hike around 3:30 PM. Tom had a fast pace and I
kept up with him most of the time. That made it a 5 mile hike in two hours
or 2.5 miles an hour. Not bad.
So this was a good hike. I was upset that I postponed this hike on Saturday
since the weather forecast changed after I postponed it and we probably
could have pulled this one off then. But the trail was drier today and it
was a bit less windy so I was glad for that. I think that we can get at least
two or three more loop hikes of two to five miles in this park in the future.
By Mike Calabrese