Secluded Hiking in Virginia’s Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Trails

by | Apr 23, 2017 | National Parks and Public Lands, Outdoor Recreation

There are few outdoorsy things that my husband loves more than a good rain hike. I swear, for a dude who grew up in the desert, this guy is slightly obsessed with a hike in the pouring rain. So, we set out yesterday in the rain to complete Hike 9 in my 52 Hike Challenge. We created a loop hike by combing sections of the Yellow, Blue, and Gray Trails in Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Clifton, Virginia. We hiked a total of 3.07 miles between hiking the trails and exploring the riverbank, dam ruin, and island areas. After this hike, my challenge stats are:

• 9/52 hikes completed (17.3% of the way to my goal)
• 21.13 miles hiked
• 9 unique trails
• 1 solo hike
• 8 companion hikes
• 2 K-9 accompanied hikes

Hiking Southern Section of the Yellow Trail

We followed the Hemlock Overlook’s Yellow Trail southwest from the trailhead parking lot. The trail follows a ravine downhill to the Bull Run riverbank. There it intersects with the Blue Trail, which runs beyond the park borders in both directions. Please note that the trail can be slippery after and/or during rain as sections are fairly smooth rocks.

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Hiking the Blue Trail

At the conclusion of the Yellow Trail, we met up with the Blue Trail and headed north. The Blue Trail follows the riverbank of Bull Run. There are several rocky areas along the shore for exploring, as well as the ruins of a hydroelectric dam. Past the dam ruins, near the confluence of Bull Run and Popes Head Creek, there is a cool island that you can visit. Be careful making your way down the riverbank and across the wet rocks.

Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike

Hiking the Northern Section of the Yellow Trail

At the confluence of Bull Run and Popes Head, follow the trail towards the hill at right. Do not cross Popes Head Creek unless you want to continue on the Blue Trail. This intersection is not well marked and it looks like the Blue Trail goes in both directions. The uphill portion of this is short, but a challenge for those not in shape. We made it up without much issue but did stop to take two short breaks along the way.

Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike

Hiking the Gray Trail

At the crest of the hill, the Yellow Trail splits off at a 90 degree left turn and the Gray Trail continues forward. The Gray Trail follows the woods for a bit and then continues through a grassy area. The grassy area is part of the adventure challenge section of the park. Follow the ridgeline until the trail heads back into the woods and skirts the edge of the adventure parking lot.

Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Hike

Tips for Hiking in Hemlock Overlook Regional Park

• This is a dog-friendly trail, but all dogs must be leashed.
• There are no toilets available at the trailhead, but we made use of a restroom at the lodge area.
• My recommended picnic spots for this hike are on the rock outcroppings south of the hydroelectric dam ruins or on the island beach close to the confluence of Bull Run and Popes Head Creek.
• Looking for a place to eat before or after your hike? Drive into Clifton and stop at the Clifton Cafe or The Main Street Pub. We LOVE both locations!

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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