Into the woods: Prince William Forest Park plans 13 miles of new trails

The park is moving forward with its largest expansion in more than 60 years.

Photo by JD Mason

No more trailing behind: Prince William Forest Park’s Comprehensive Trail Plan has been approved by the National Park Service.

The plan was a lengthy process involving suggestions and ideas from the community and ultimately outlined necessary improvements to the park’s nearly 15,000 acres, including a 13-mile expansion into new trails. The plan process will move periodically as funding becomes available from a combination of appropriated funds and partnerships.

Prince William Forest Park currently offers camping, hiking, picnicking and bicycling to tens of thousands of visitors every year, and also has the region’s largest protected natural area outside of the nation’s capital.

The acting National Capital Regional Director Lisa Mendelson-lelmini, based out of the National Park Service location in Washington, DC, signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on May 28, which ensured there would be no environmental threat or harm to the area from the proposed improvements, and allowed the plan to be implemented further.

The plan encompassed ongoing issues such as the natural degradation of certain trails, lack of standardized trail signage and hopes to meet accessibility standards in certain areas (including picnic areas). There are three new trail-head parking areas proposed with varying access around the park, and better connectivity with surrounding regional trails beyond the park system.

Other proposed improvements include adjustments to more than 29 miles of existing trails to connect them more effectively and subsequently protect streams, plants and archaeological sites, as well as increase the acreage of the park’s trails for access to horseback riding (approximately 7.8 miles of equestrian access) and mountain biking (approximately 5.4 miles of access).

For more information on the ongoing improvements, please visit // Prince William Forest Park: 18170 Park Entrance Road, Triangle, VA 22172

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