Explore Outdoors While Learning History in Northern Virginia
Early in fall I attended a press trip to explore the Prince William and Manassas area. I’m familiar with both counties in Virginia but I hadn’t explored the area much. Over the course of the weekend we visited two parks in the area. We spent one day at the Prince William Forest National Park, and one at the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Each park was unique and offered different experiences.
You can really take a step back in history walking the trails at both parks and learning about what happened in those places. Our weekend started at Prince William Forest National Park with one of the park rangers. It was a bit wet outside so we ended up doing a combination of a driving tour and a walking tour. The park itself is 15,000 acres, it’s so huge it has two access points separated by the highway. The park has 21 miles of bicycle trails and 37 miles of hiking trails that criss-cross Quantico Creek and its tributaries.
While at Prince William Forest National Park we learned about how the park was started. The history with Civilian Conservation Corps, that built cabins for underprivileged youths to experience camping outdoors. Those cabins were later used by the Office of Strategic Services to train intelligence operatives. To learn more about the cabins at the park or find information about booking visit the Prince William Forest National Park website. Learn about the fees for entrance at the park and find out about their fee free days online.
On our second day we walked on the battlefield where Union and Confederate officers fought the first and second battle of Manassas. It was a very ire feeling walking around the battlefield and learning about how these soldiers. It’s a very heavy and somber place to visit but instrumental in learning about the history of our country.
We came across an old house on the battlefield and learned that it belonged to a family that refused to leave once fighting began. Everyone in the house ended up getting killed besides one member of the family. The house is sometimes open for public tours.
We then went on a hike near the Stone Bridge Trail to enjoy another area of the park. It was a beautiful section of the park to see, most of which remains natural. We arrived at the top of a plateau with the most amazing views of the surrounding area. It was worth the walk just to experience the views.
Entrance to Manassas Battlefield National Park is free, however visitors can donate at the visitors center. Plan your visit and learn more about the battlefield by visiting their website.