You are here

Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Forty miles south of the nation’s capital lies 15,000 acres of federally protected land where visitors can enjoy camping, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. Overshadowed by National Park Service land such as Great Falls Park and Mount Vernon, Prince William Forest Park is one of the lesser known recreational destinations near Washington D.C. In 1936 the area originally opened as Chopawamsic Recreation area. Its original purpose was to hold relief camps for children during the Great Depression. Today Prince William Forest Park remains a vast area filled with outdoor exploration. The park holds over 37 miles of hiking trails, four campgrounds, paved scenic bike lanes, fishing ponds, picnic shelters, and endless wildlife watching opportunities right next to the bustle of I-95.

A large scenic drive loop wraps around the interior of the park. The loop is extremely popular with road bikers. A large section of this loop restricts vehicles to one way traffic so that bikers can utilize the entirety of the other lane. While in your vehicle, drive the loop counter clockwise to avoid any issues with the one-way traffic. The park has many other gravel trails for bikers to explore, with limited access to vehicles

Wildlife watching is another big activity at the park. Mornings are always best to beat the crowds and catch the wildlife when they are most active. Whitetail deer and squirrels are common sights all over the park. The creekside trails and ponds are great places to look for beaver dams and their residents. There is even a healthy population of black bears that reside in the park. For birders, be on the lookout for red-tailed hawks and barred owls and listen for the sounds of woodpeckers. Fisherman can wet a line anywhere along Quantico Creek, the South Fork, or any of the park’s ponds. A Virginia state fishing license is required and all state fishing regulations must be followed.

Hiking

  • Quantico Cascades Trail: A short trail leading down to the cascading waters of Quantico Creek.
  • Farms to Forest Extension Trail: A 2.7-mile trail that leads hikers through rejuvenated forests that were once farmland.
  • Cabin Branch Mine Trail: Another short trail that leads to the site of an old pyrite mine.
  • North Valley Trail: A 2.6-mile trail following Quantico and crossing it several times on a series of bridges. This trail allows hikers to link up with many of the other parks trails.

Camping

  • Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground: Tent sites for organized groups only.
  • Oak Ridge Campground: One-hundred sites for RV and tent campers.
  • Chopawamsic Backcountry Campground: Eight hike in backcountry sites.
  • Cabin Camps: Five different cabin camp sites for groups of 70 to 200.
  • RV Park: RV sites only. Full hookups and additional amenities.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Pros

Hiking trails close to D.C.

Cons

Big crowds.

Features

Geologically significant
Campgrounds + Campsites
Showers
Amphitheater
Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Flushing toilets
Bicycling
Potable water
Picnic tables
Covered picnic areas
Waterfalls
Old-growth forest
Fishing
Bird watching
Wildlife
Family friendly

Site type

Full hookups
Cabins

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.