A Historical Hike at Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Northern Virginia

by | Feb 21, 2017 | National Parks and Public Lands, Outdoor Recreation

On Sunday, Hubs and I completed Hike 5 of 52 while exploring various Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park hiking trails. My knee had was bothering me, so we opted to stick close to home and complete a short hike. We ended up hiking a total of 2.33 miles.

Getting to Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park is located in Leesburg, Virginia. The park can be accessed from Highway 15 in Leesburg by taking Battlefield Parkway east and then making the first left onto Balls Bluff Road NE. Balls Bluff Road NE is easy to miss as it looks like a normal street into a subdivision. Follow the road through the subdivision until it ends in a cul-de-sac. You will likely see cars parked in the cul-de-sac, but you can continue driving through the gate and onto the gravel road. Follow the gravel road through the forest until you come to the parking lot. Park in any of the available spaces.

Quick History of Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park

Ball’s Bluff was the site of a Civil War conflict on October 21, 1861. According to the park’s website, the engagement was minor “in comparison with the battles that would take place in years to follow, it was the second largest battle of the Eastern Theater in 1861, and in its aftermath had repercussions in the Union Army’s chain of command structure, and raised separation of powers issues under the United States Constitution during the war.”  The National Cemetery is the third smallest in the US and 54 Union Army soldiers are interred in its 25 graves. Sadly, only one of the soldiers interred in the cemetery is known.

Exploring the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hiking Trails

There are many trail options in the park (see map). For first time visitors, I would recommend the Orange Trail (1.7 miles) to most hikers visiting the park for two reasons. First, it offers seclusion well away from the cemetery and battlefield. Second, it intersects with several other trails within the park, so it is easy to extend or shorten your hike. We combined the Orange Trail with the Potomac Heritage Trail during our hike to extend the length of our hike. The Potomac Heritage Trail was much busier than the Orange Trail, especially near the southern end (closest to the cemetery).

Orange Trail

The Orange Trail leaves from the west end of the parking lot. To find the trailhead, start walking down the entry road about 20 or so feet and you will see orange blaze on the right side. The trail then winds its way along the ridge. After a bit, it will dip into a shallow valley before winding back to the ridge top. While the water level is low in winter, it is possible that you may need to cross a couple small streams in spring and summer.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike

Potomac Heritage Trail

We split from the Orange Trail roughly halfway through it and jumped on the Potomac Heritage Trail. We wanted to get down to the edge of the Potomac River and add a bit of length on to our hike.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike

Connector Trails to Cemetery and Battlefield

The Potomac Heritage Trail breaks away from the Potomac River. The trail will wind its way to the top of the ridge where it connects with unmarked trails. You can easily see the Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery and battlefield. This area is where we saw the majority of the people during our visit. We took the gravel road back to the parking lot from here so that we could read some of the historical signage.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike

Tips for Hiking at Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park

  1. Dogs are welcome in the park as long as they are leashed.
  2. There is a port-a-potty available in the parking lot!
  3. Trail maps are available in the green parking lot green kiosk (see picture below). Please return (i.e., recycle) your trail map if it is in good condition.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park Hike

52 Hike Challenge Update

  • 5/52 hikes completed (9.6% of the way to my goal)
  • 10.46 miles hiked
  • 5 unique hike locations
  • 1 solo hike
  • 4 companion hikes

You can learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge by visiting the official website.

By Sara Beth

Sara Beth is a wanderlust soul who is focused on simplistic and mindful living. She is passionate about National Parks, road trips, and board games. Her early years were spent in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. After graduating from university, she moved to Las Vegas, fell in love, and adopted a dog. Today, she lives with her husband and their dog in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

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