Farms to Forest Loop and Extension–Prince William National Forest

September 21, 2012
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Farms to Forest Prince William

Distance: 2.7 mile loop (1 mile loop along Farms to Forest and 1.7 mile loop along the Farms to Forest Extension).

Difficulty: Easy

The Farms to Forest Loop and the Farms to Forest Loop extension trail are two trails in Prince William Forest near the Oak Ridge Campground.  This trail gets its name from the fact that it was formerly farmland that has reverted back to mature forest. It is also potentially one of the best trails in the park for spotting beavers.

 

From its trailhead, the trail starts parallel with the road before connecting with the Extension trail on the right side of a split in the path.  From here, the trail slowly descends through a thick wooded area as it approaches Quantico Creek.

Farms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince William

After a little over a mile of hiking, the first views of Quantico Creek can be seen beyond a thick fern covered area. The trail then parallels the slow moving creek which is littered with beaver dams. During the majority of this flat portion of the hike, hikers will walk through a very narrow pathway surrounded by even more knee high ferns.

Farms to Forest Prince William

Farms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince William Farms to Forest Prince William

One of the highlights of this hike is the potential to see beaver along Quantico Creek. Unfortunately, on the day we hiked this trail we didn’t see any beaver, but there were a lot of signs of their activity. Along the creek banks, were fall trees and stumps bearing the conical signs of a beaver chew.  A few of the even larger trees  had circular markings around their base where beaver had started on them, but hadn’t finished the job yet.

Farms to Forest Prince William

Farms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince William

Farms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince William

Farms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince WilliamFarms to Forest Prince William

The Forest Extension loop meets back up with the Forest loop with only 0.3 miles remaining in the hike. From here, the trail is nearly completely flat and heads back to the parking lot at the beginning of the Oak Ridge Campground.

Farms to Forest Prince William

 

Directions:

From I-95:

1. Take exit 150-B. The Prince William National Forest is the second right on Joplin Road.

2. After entering park, take the first road on the left along Scenic Road.

3. Follow the scenic loop past parking lot F and then turn right towards Oak Ridge Campground.

4. Park in the parking lot prior to the camp ground’s entrance. The trailhead is just before the parking lot on the right.

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