This loop hike encircles the majority of the Manassas Battlefield National Park. It's an introduction to the bridle trails and includes two well maintained trails that are not currently on the park maps. It includes great views of Brawner Farm, Deep Cut, yet it avoids the crowds at the visitor center. The loop passes through several parking areas. While any can be used as a starting point, the picnic area has loads of parking and nice restrooms. The park is on the urban/rural border. While this loop starts near the major metropolitan I66 corridor, you'll soon find yourself walking through remote farmland.
Park admission is free. Loved by locals and visited by tourists, the main areas can get really crowded in peak season. Bridle trails are blazed with yellow circles, hiking trails have blue blazes. Refer to the Battlefield Equestrian Society Hike for a comprehensive trail map.
The loop begins on an unmarked farm road that starts at the western end of the Brownsville Picnic Area road. Follow the farm road for 3/4 of a mile to where a trail intersects from the left. Stay straight and you'll come to a gate. Here you cross US 29, and go through another gate which is the original entrance to Brawner Farm.
Make a left on to the Brawner Loop bridal trail (Brawner Equestrian Loop
). At 1.3 miles you'll cross the Brawner Farm access road. At 1.6 miles, the trail turns right and follows the powerlines. Follow the trail through fields until you reach an intersection at 2.3 miles. Turn left, onto a Yellow blazed bridle trail that connects the Brawner Loop to the Main Loop Bridle Trail
. The trail descends into the woods.
At 2.5 miles you come to a field that is the Confederate side of Deep Cut. You'll see the Groveton Monument next to the unfinished railway bed. The bridle trail continues across the field and plunges back into the woods. At 3.2 miles you cross Groveton road and the unfinished railway. Continue across the parking lot, the bridle trail where the bridle trail picks up again.
At 3.4 miles you intersect the Main Loop Bridle trail. Stay straight and follow a beautiful tree lined farm road. When the road breaks out to a field the trail turns left. Follow the trail, cross SR 234 and enter the Mathews Hill parking area (4.3 Miles).
The trail skirts the Mathews Hill parking lot before heading back into the woods. Remember to stay on the yellow blazed trail. At 4.5 miles, at the trail crossing, stay straight onto the Matthews Hill Loop Bridle Trail
. Follow the trail until it intersects with a road (5.6 miles).
Turn right and follow the road until just before it ends at US 29, (6.5 miles). Turn left before the fence and follow the bridle trail to where it turns right and crosses US 29. The bridle path follows a road that leads to a ford at Young's Branch (5.9 Miles).
Luckily there's also a bridge to the right for hikers. Cross the bridge, turn left and follow the road (or the parallel path) up to the top of the hill where, at 7.3, miles you come to an intersection. The Bridle Trail
is straight ahead—not the road to the left of it which heads towards the Lewis House Site. The trail winds through the woods between the Community College and the Henry Hill visitor center and emerges on SR 234 (8 Miles).
At 8.4 miles cross the one-way park road. At the next trail intersection, 9.3 miles, turn left onto the unmarked service road. (If you were to turn right you would come out at Chinn Ridge). Follow the road until it ends. At a gate on Groveton Road
(9.8 Miles) turn right on Groveton road, hike to the Picnic Area Entrance (10 miles).
The park has an amazing assortment of wildflowers that change through the seasons. Look for Red Tailed hawk in the fields and Herons in the streams.