Prince William Forest Park

Prince William Forest Park

This year, the autumnal equinox brings the fall season to the Northern Hemisphere tomorrow night at 10:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time. This is my favorite time of the year. So to celebrate the beginning of autumn, on this bike ride I went for a long weekend ride in the Prince William Forest Park, which is located between a half an hour and forty-five minutes south of D.C., just off of Interstate 95 (MAP) in southeastern Prince William County, Virginia, and adjacent to the Marine Corps Base Quantico.  I went early in the morning, and enjoyed a breakfast of a pumpkin muffin and some apple juice, and then went for a leisurely ride in the picturesque park to enjoy the early fall foliage as the landscape is beginning to silently explode with vibrant colors of red, yellow, and orange.

Prince William Forest Park is the largest protected natural area in the D.C. metro area at over 19,000 acres. It was originally developed by Works Progress Administration workers after the Great Depression, and established as the Chopawamsic Recreational Demonstration Area in 1936. It later became a National Park and was renamed Prince William Forest Park in 1948.  The park is currently administered by the National Park Service, whose architects designed its landscaping and structures to be a glimpse into the past and provide an example of what much of the East Coast once looked like centuries ago.

The park offers 21 miles of bicycle accessible roads and trails, as well as a variety of other recreational opportunities. They include an additional 37 miles of hiking trails, some of which go to historical and cultural destinations within the park, including the remnants of an old pyrite mine and an abandoned gold mine, as well as Joplin, Hickory Ridge and Batestown – three small communities that existed prior to the park’s establishment. Other trails follow Quantico Creek and offer views of its small waterfalls. Prince William Forest Park also offers several tent camping options, including family, group and backcountry camping, as well as rustic cabin camping, and a full-service, concessionaire-operated RV campground. Four of the parks camp areas are listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places. Wildlife viewing is also a popular activity in the park.

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