Friday, October 08, 2010

Bull Run/Occoquan Trail

Yesterday I hiked the 18 mile Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, or as many hikers know it the "blue trail." I had hiked most sections of this before, but this was my first through hike of it.

It is a truly amazing resource in the heart of Northern Virginia the end points are Fountainhead Regional Park and Bull Run Regional Park, with Bull Run Marina and Hemlock Regional Parks in the middle. At 18 miles it is perfect for a serious day hike, and a good day hike alternative to those that are thinking about a day hike on the Appalachian Trail. The AT is fantastic, but this is closer for many people and just as nice in many ways.

The trail runs along the river and in some areas you are in low areas next the bank and in other areas the trail is along high bluffs. The area around Hemlock Overlook Regional Park is perhaps the most beautiful with its stunning rock outcroppings.

Hiking this trail is literally walking in the footsteps of history. Between Fountainhead and Bull Run Marina is the point where the armies of Washington and Rochambeau crossed the Occoquan River on their way to Yorktown in 1781, to bring the Revolutionary War to an end. Rochambeau was the General in charge of the French troops that were critical to the success at Yorktown. For more information on this chapter in history see:

In this section of the trail we also saw many small groups of people walking briskly along the trail for a few miles to get their exercise.

Between Hemlock Overlook and Rt. 28 there is a fascinating Civil War artillery battery next to the trial that is a reminder that during the war between the states, this area was the outer defenses for Washington and an area that saw many battles and skirmishes. Many soldiers spent months camped along the banks of the Bull Run and Occoquan Rivers manning batteries and forts like the one next to the trial. At Rt. 28 is the site of the Battle of Blackburn's Ford that took place shortly before the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas).

There is also great wildlife to be seen along this nature trail, and a varied environment.

Today with sore feet and great memories, I would highly encourage anyone to start early in the morning and make a day of exporting the hidden natural and historic resources of the "blue trial."

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