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Good For Kids

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The cascades were small and unremarkable. They might be better after some rains. This pool area was pretty.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Prince William Forest Park

18100 Park Headquarters Road Triangle, Virgina 22172
Visitor center is open 9-5. Park is open daylight hours.
703-221-4706 Half day
July 2013 Fall, Spring
$0-9 Triangle Virginia
Website Nature National Parks
First review
Prince William Forest Park is a 15,000 acre natural area located about 30 miles south of Washington, DC. It’s a heavily forested park that was previously a recreational demonstration area set up in the 1930s from marginal farmland and mine areas. Hiking and camping are the main recreational activities. There is a small visitor center/museum and also unfurnished cabin rentals. The park borders a US Marine base and is located next to Interstate 95.

The park area was used for farming prior to the Civil War. A pyrite mine operated here from 1889-1920. Pyrite is a common mineral with a variety of industrial applications. After the mine closed and the Great Depression commenced, the federal government acquired the land and forced out residents to create a park and to provide conservation jobs. During World War II the park was used as a training base by the Office of Strategic Services, an intelligence service which preceded the Central Intelligence Agency. Today the park contains the largest remaining piedmont forest in the region and is an oasis for wildlife. Animal and plant diversity is rich because the park has both northern and southern species.

Visiting in summer was not ideal because the day was so hot and humid. Spring and fall would be better times of year to go. The visitor center is small and can be seen in a few minutes. It did have some interesting displays on the Office of Strategic Services. There were a handful of exhibits on animal life as well. Three hikes included the Laurel Trail Loop, the Quantico Cascades Trail, and the Farms to Forest Trail Loop. Each trail was 1-2 miles long and none were difficult. The Cascades Trail was the best because the cascades area was a nice setting but none were especially scenic. The so called “Scenic Drive” was just a long park road surrounded by woods. This park is mainly a place to get some recreation and privacy. If you enjoy a walk in the woods with plenty of solitude it should be of interest.
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