Discover Something New at a Local Park

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By Carla Christiano | Photo by Sean Floars

As the days get longer and spring seems so close, you may long to be outside. You are in luck in the Prince William area. We have two national parks, a state forest, a state park and more than 50 county and city parks to explore. These parks vary in the activities and amenities they offer. Although it may still be early in the season, you may discover a new park or something new at your old favorite.

Biking

Prince William Forest Park is a more than 16,000-acre park near Triangle. Although most known for its hiking trails, the park has more than nine miles of unpaved roads and twelve miles of paved roads available for cyclists. Three miles of the park’s Scenic Drive are a dedicated bike lane. The park boasts twelve roads that range from easy to difficult; however, bikes are limited to just those roads and are not allowed on hiking trails.
Cost: $15 admission per car, good for seven days; $7 admission per biker, good for seven days
Address: 18170 Park Entrance Road, Triangle, VA 22172
Website: nps.gov/prwi/planyourvisit/bicycling.htm
Other parks for biking:
James Long Park, Haymarket: Hikers, bikers and horseback riders share four miles of trails.
Locust Shade Park, Triangle: Bikers and hikers share 4.5 miles of trails.
Silver Lake Regional Park, Haymarket: Hikers, bikers and horseback riders share four miles of trails.
Conway Robinson State Forest, Gainesville: Bikers and hikers share five miles of trails.

Boating, Canoeing and Kayaking

The Lake Ridge Golf and Marina Park is a 74-acre park on the Occoquan Reservoir in eastern Prince William County. It offers public access to the Occoquan Water Trail and three=-season rentals of motorized Jon boats, row boats, canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. For a fee, the park also offers a universal
access boat launch, which can be used year-round for personal watercraft (max. 9.9hp) but is subject to weather closings.

Cost: varies, based on boat type and launch
Address: 12350 Cotton Mill Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22192
Website: pwcgov.org/government/dept/park/lakeridgepark/Pages/Lake-Ridge-Marina.aspx
Other parks for boating:
Silver Lake Regional Park, Haymarket, has a 24-acre lake but restricts motor boats.
Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, on the Potomac River allows motor boats (no restrictions) and provides boat ramps and seasonal rentals of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards.

Camping

If you crave getting away from it all, but without getting too far away, camping at Prince William Forest Park might be for you. The park has three front-country campgrounds: the 100-site Oak Ridge campground, the nine-site Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground and the Prince William Forest RV Campground, run by a concessionaire. It also has the Chopawamsic Backcountry Area, which is an eight-site, hike-in/hike-out, back-country campground, as well as five cabin camp sites, consisting of structures the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration built during the Great Depression in the 1930s. All campsites must be reserved. Rules and operating times depend on the campground.

Cost: varies, depending on the campground
Address: 18170 Park Entrance Road, Triangle, VA 22172
Website: nps.gov/prwi/planyourvisit/camping.htm
Another park for camping:
Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, has a few primitive group camping sites available.

Fishing

Manassas National Battlefield Park in western Prince William County is known for its storied history and its hiking and bridle trails. Yet, the park also has year-round fishing at five ponds in the park. State fishing regulations are enforced, and a Virginia State Fishing License is required for residents older than 16.  According to the Hook and Bullet website, largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill have been caught there.
Cost: free
Address: 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, VA 20109
Website: home.nps.gov/mana/planyourvisit/fishing.htm
Other parks for fishing:
Lake Ridge Golf and Marina Park, Woodbridge, provides access to the 2,000 plus acre Occoquan Reservoir. Fish: channel catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill
Locust Shade Park, Triangle, has an eight-acre lake. Fish: channel catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and bluegill
Silver Lake Regional Park, Haymarket, has a 23-acre lake. Fish: Bank fishing for bluegill and largemouth bass
Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, has a 300-foot accessible fishing pier on the Potomac River. Fish: catfish, perch and striped bass

Hiking/Fitness

The 400-acre Locust Shade Park near the Quantico Marine Corps Museum in Triangle offers boating, golfing and fishing, but people often overlook its 4.5 miles of trails through woodlands, including a recently expanded fifteen-station fitness trail. A part of the trail near the lake connects to the National Museum of the Marine Corps trail.
Cost: free
Address: 4701 Locust Shade Dr., Triangle, VA. 22172
Website: pwcgov.org/government/dept/park/locustshade/Pages/default.aspx
Other parks for hiking:
Multiple Prince William County parks: For a list, see pwcgov.org/government/dept/park/pages/recreation-naturehiking.aspx
Dean Park, Manassas: The 70-acre city park has .9-mile trail.
Conway Robinson State Forest, Gainesville: Bikers and hikers share five miles of trails.

Leesylvania State Park, Woodbridge, has six miles of easy-to-moderate trails as well as a 20-station fitness trail. Two trails are handicap accessible.
Manassas National Battlefield Park, Manassas, offers 40 miles of hiking trails.
Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, offers 37 miles of hiking trails.
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) publishes the Hiking Project website at hikingproject.com, which lists recommended hiking trails nationwide.

Skateboarding

Prince William and the City of Manassas boast the only two outdoor skate parks. Both parks were designed by skateboarders. Within Veterans Memorial Park in Woodbridge, the Scott D. Eagles Skateboard Park is a concrete dream for local skateboarders and in-line skaters. It has a 60-foot kidney bowl next to the 6,300-square foot open-flow course of ledges, stairs, grind rails, ramps and jumps. This free park is maintained by the skaters, and skaters participate at their own risk.
Cost: free
Address: 14300 Veterans Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22191
Website: pwcgov.org/government/dept/park/vetspark/pages/vets-skate-park.aspx
Another park for skateboarding:
Dean Park, Manassas, replaced the Old Town Skate Park and has a small concrete surface with grind boxes, rails and bank ramps near Jennie Dean Elementary School and the Martin K. Alloy Boys & Girls Club of Manassas.
Cost: free
Address: 9501 Dean Park Lane, Manassas, VA 20110
Website: manassascity.org/375/Parks

Carla Christiano (cchristiano@princewilliamliving.com) is a native of Prince William County, an admitted history geek and a technical writer for Unisys.

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