Though a fairly long route, this is is one of the easier, dependable loops in Prince William Forest Park that connects multiple trails right from the Visitor's Center. For first-time visitors or folks coming back, this area provides a little bit of everything: historical sites, recovering land, Quantico watershed creeks, and secluded wooded trail.
Blazing and signage are fairly straightforward but you can always pick up a trail map at the Visitor's Center or use the Hiking Project mobile app
for on-trail navigation without service.
As all trails in the park can be traveled in any direction, this loop can be done in reverse or adapted to accommodate groups of varying ages or abilities. There are also multiple parking areas that can be used to shift the start/endpoints.
Beware of a few road crossings and route finding where trail entrances require walking down the road a short distance.
From the parking area past the Visitor's Center at the Pine Grove trailhead, head north onto the western half of the Laurel Loop Trail
. This trail descends gradually toward South Orenda Road. At the road, turn left and continue onto the South Valley Trail
to the left (south).
The South Valley Trail
winds parallel to the South Fork Quantico Creek with numerous opportunities to explore the flowing water. In the summer months, it's a great way to cool down. After 1.5 miles, turn right (north) onto the Turkey Run Ridge Trail
to begin the ascent toward the Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground, which has a restroom. This section of trail follows parallel to the road, but it's never too busy to be a distraction. Be careful at the Scenic Drive crossing.
At the three-mile mark, the trail comes to its northern terminus at Turkey Run Road where there is a white-marked crosswalk. Turn right (north) toward the parking area and continue up the road past the Ranger Station on Old Blacktop Road
where the Mary Bird Branch Trail
starts on the right (east) side of the road.
After a quick dip in the trail, the Mary Bird Branch Trail
will reach the high point of the hike, right around the half-way mark. At the Scenic Drive crossing, turn left up the road until you see the Quantico Cascades Trail
on the right, continuing east. This trail descends gradually toward Camp Four Lake and the Quantico Creek below it. Stay on the Quantico Cascades Trail
to explore a few small waterfalls or use the North Valley Trail
to bypass this section of the creek to start the journey south toward the pyrite mine site.
After five miles, you'll have your first opportunity to see some of the mine ruins on the right (west) side of the trail before passing the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine Trail
and arriving to the boardwalk bridge, where you'll see more ruins. Follow the boardwalk toward the Pyrite Mine Road, continuing south to return to the Laurel Loop Trail
, which connects back to the Pine Grove trailhead.