Family Weekender: Washington, D.C.

Prince William Forest Park
By Mary Burnham
Go Guide: Prince William Forest Park
Who can go : All ages.
Activities : Hiking, backpacking, camping, biking, fishing, nature, and orienteering programs.
Distance from D.C.: 1 hour.
Getting there : From I-95, take exit 150 at Triangle. Turn left on Route 619, go a half mile and make a right into the park.
Contact : Prince William Forest Park, (703) 221-7181, or visit
Reference : Country Walks Near Washington by Alan Fisher (Rambler Books, 800-476-9206).
Extra treats : The park offers a bicycling guide to the nearly 30 miles of paved and forest roads open to bikers.

Less than an hour's drive south of D.C., Prince William Forest Park is the perfect place to give the kids a taste of backpacking sans the trauma. Backcountry sites are a short hike — between 0.2 and one mile — from trailheads in the Chopawamsic Backcountry Area.

There's also a large drive-in campground and cabins if you can't get the kids to carry everything on their backs.

While this is an extremely popular park, you can ditch crowds on the long trails that wind through lush forests and along streams that spill in small cascades en route to the Potomac. In all, there are 37 miles of trails here, and guaranteed, you'd never guess you were so close to the city.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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