Here we take a step up from easy level hiking options in terms of hiking difficult to a more moderate level of hiking in and around Loudoun County.

#1 – Appalachian Trail / Bears Den Trail Center, Bluemont, VA.  Bears Den is set to model a European castle. The 66-acre retreat showcases two stone turrets, three circuit trails, a campground, and a secluded cottage in the woods. The lodge is 150 yards from the Appalachian Trail. There you stand in the middle of the Roller Coaster section, a 13.5-mile up and down rocky path that offers challenging hiking, scenic overlooks, and bubbling mountain stream crossings.  Time your visit well and you can catch the glorious sunset over Shenandoah Valley at the Bears Den Rocks Overlook.  Bears Den has something to offer for long-distance backpackers, section hikers and day hikers!  It is located at  18393 Blue Ridge Mountain Rd., Bluemont, VA 20135, (540) 554-8708.

#2 – Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, Leesburg, VA.  Famously known for one of the largest Civil War engagements in Loudoun County, at Ball’s Bluff Battlefield in Leesburg visitors can take advantage of weekend guided tours from April through November, volunteer guided programs and living history events.  Additionally, brochures are available year-round for self-guided walking tours of the park.  Major visitor’s sites at Ball’s Bluff include a cemetery, which is the third smallest national cemetery in the United States. Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park also features an interpretive trail, signage and an amazing view of the bluff itself, overlooking the Potomac River.  There are mostly shady trails, varying terrain, and interesting, well-marked historic sites.  Get your dose of exercise and history here all in one place.  It is located at Balls Bluff Rd. NE, Leesburg, VA 20175.  (703) 737-7800.

#3 – Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, Leesburg, VA.  Officially deemed a Virginia State Treasure by the Virginia Governor in 2016, this vast expanse of 725-acres of beauty is conveniently nestled in the heart of Loudoun County.   Visitors can explore the diverse successional fields, hardwood forests, wetlands, and riverine habitat.  Banshee Reeks is Loudoun County’s only nature preserve.  The 20+ miles of well-maintained trails affords all endless opportunities to enjoy the flora and fauna and to see all manner of wildlife in their natural settings.  As an official Nature Preserve, all of the plants, animals, habitats and cultural resources are protected. The wildlife, rolling hills, and frontage along Goose Creek guarantees all visitors to Banshee will have an unforgettable experience.  It is located at 21085 The Woods Rd., Leesburg, VA 20175.  (703) 669-0316,

#4 – Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park, Leesburg, VA.  If you’re looking for a challenge hike, try Red Rock and hike authentic natures trails over hills and through woods with panoramic views of the Potomac River and distant foothills, festooned with seasonal wildflowers, and the ultimate challenge of no restrooms.  The 67-acre park offers great views and it is recommended that you stop and take in the historic ruins located around the site, built in the 1800s by wealthy businessman, Charles Paxton (carriage house, well house, ice house).  The primary trail at Red Rock is a 1.2 mile circuit that takes you through the woods, down to the Potomac, and along a bluff with great river views. If it presents too much of a challenge, hikers may shorten the hike by taking one of several return trails.   It is located at 43098 Edwards Ferry Rd. NE, Leesburg, VA 20176.  (703) 779-9372.

#5 – Two Creeks Trail Area, Leesburg, VA.  The Two Creeks Trail Area is a 19-acre site located at mile marker 30 on the north side of the W&OD Trail between Goose Creek and Sycolin Creek. In addition to walking and equestrian trails, the park has a mountain-bike trail that loops through the center of the property.   The Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Railroad Regional Park is a paved trail between Shirlington and Purcellville, Virginia. Run, cycle, or skate the 45-mile route along the former roadbed of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, which runs through the urban heartland and into the Virginia countryside. Equestrians can ride the adjacent 32-mile gravel horse trail. The W&OD trail has multiple parking areas, enabling you to jump on and off the trail at various points.  It is located in Leesburg, VA 20175.  (703) 729-0597.

#6 – Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park, Leesburg, VA.  Elizabeth Mills Riverfront Park consists of over one hundred acres of passive parkland with access to the Potomac River and Goose Creek. The park is home to the historic Elizabeth Mills canal lock system and contains a section of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Kephart Bridge Landing is also located within the park.  Amenities include a canoe/kayak launch, fishing, historic structures, information kiosk, interpretive signs which adorn the various nature trails, picnic areas, river, and wooded areas throughout the park.  The property includes 122 acres of passive parkland with access to the Potomac River and Goose Creek at the non-motorized boat landing at Kephart Bridge Landing in Lansdowne (43942 Riverpoint Dr). NOTE:  Canoes and kayaks must be carried to the landing.  It is located at 43513 Squirrel Ridge Pl., Leesburg, VA 20176.  (703) 777-0343.

#7 – Blue Ridge Regional Park, Bluemont, VA. This park is on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Loudoun County. This property offers the ideal setting for an escape to the mountains for tent camping and is available by reservation only to organized youth groups, including but not limited to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, church youth groups and school groups. Blue Ridge Regional Park is not open to the general public. Blue Ridge Regional Park offers a modest trail system for members of the organized youth camping groups staying at the park. Enjoy a relatively easy hike through the woods near base camp, a 1.25-mile loop trail. The trail provides opportunities to view various types of wildlife as well as a number of different types of local foliage. It is located at 100 Harry Byrd Hwy., Bluemont, VA 20135.  (703) 437-5400.

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