Birding · Fall Colors · Historical Significance · Wildlife
Whitney State Forest is a local destination for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and dog walking a few miles south of the town of Warrenton, VA. It's not real huge, but the area is rural enough that it's not super busy either. Nice place for a not-hard hike or dog walk as a warm-up to something bigger. Great view of the beautiful Virginia Piedmont region and the adjoining North Wales estate.
Need to Know
No fee, no bathroom (not even a port-a-potty).
Whitney State Forest is a great place to take a "practice hike" prior to heading to Skyline Drive an hour to the west. The "blue" loop trail is the longest and best marked trail in the Forest. Several other colors exist for shorter trails but can also be hard to follow, IMO. The blue trail starts and ends at the parking lot, which holds up to about 15 cars. Even when full, it's unusual to see more than a few other people. Since I live nearby, this trail became my "go to" during the shutdown.
The blue loop can be done in either direction. Starting clockwise, starting down the hill two trails to the left of the bulletin board. The first half roughly parallels the Lees Ridge road, reaching the fire road at about the halfway point. The second half hugs the perimeter along the western boundary of the forest, finally returning up the hill to the fire road and the parking lot. Several small stream crossings, sometimes with enough water to get your feet wet in a rainier season, but only small trickles today.
The large adjacent farm property known as North Wales features a French revival mansion dating to 1776, visible from the perimeter trail, at one point with the Blue Ridge in the background on a clear day. This is the scenic Virginia piedmont region up close -- rolling hills, farmland, with the history right there as well. The Forest property was split off of the North Wales property in the 1800's, and later donated to the Commonwealth of Virginia, which turned it into a "teaching" forest.
North Wales is also known informally as the "Chrysler" estate as it was owned by the son of the found of Chrysler motors during the 1900's. Enough up and down on the blue trail to give some aerobic challenge if you want to push it, but mostly just a walk in the woods.
Hikers share the trails with horses, mountain bikers, and runners, but typically there are no more than a few encounters total. Everyone is friendly out in the country :)
Flora & Fauna
If you bring the dog, hang on to the leash, if they are the type that likes to chase squirrels, deer or even the occasional fox.
Shared By: J H