“The main loop trail at Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area, open to hikers and bikes.”
— Ryan Delaney
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Wildlife
South Branch Loop is the backbone of the trail system at Meadowood Special Recreation Management area. Built by volunteers from local IMBA Chapter MORE and BLM staff working together, South Branch was the first singletrack trail constructed at Meadowood. It is accessible via three trailheads, the primary one at the Mason Neck Gateway kiosk on Gunston Road, and two satellite lots on Old Colchester Road and Belmont Boulevard.
South Branch's rolling singletrack winds through mature hardwood forests along the sides of the South Branch of Massey Creek's stream valley. Expect tight turns, mellow berms, grade reversals, and wooden boardwalks over floodplains and wetlands. South Branch is a great hike on it's own, and is the perfect place for all levels of hiker to increase their off-road skills before tackling some of the area's more technical trails.
Hiking clockwise, hikers face a sustained climb out of the South Branch stream valley, and short, rolling downhills. Counterclockwise, the long (for Fairfax!) descent to the stream valley is your reward for tackling the numerous short climbs back to the ridge.
South Branch holds up well to moderate precipitation but is prone to the freeze-thaw cycle in the winter months. Please be mindful of trail closures posted on the BLM or MORE's (the local mountain bike club that maintains the trail) website, at the trailheads, or at the kiosks along the South Branch Loop.