Hiking Bull Run Mountains

by Bill and Mary Burnham

Hiking in Manassas Battlefield

In 1862, the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap raged through the woods of Bull Run Mountains. At one point Union and Confederate soldiers flanked a narrow trench, which had been dug years earlier for mining quartzite, and shot each other at point-blank range.

In 1862, the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap raged through the woods of Bull Run Mountains. At one point Union and Confederate soldiers flanked a narrow trench, which had been dug years earlier for mining quartzite, and shot each other at point-blank range.

Bull Run Mountains offers Shenandoah-style views at a fraction of the drive time from DC. An easy four-mile day hike starts on Fern Hollow Trail near the ruins of a seven-story grist mill.



Grist mill ruins

On High Point Mountain (1,260 feet), the route's high point, a ragged line of house-size boulders offers views across Fauquier County's rural communities and patchwork of farms.

A return route on Ridge Loop Trail, Quarry Trail, and then Chapman's Trail passes Colonial-era home foundations and long-abandoned hillside quarries.

Bull Run Mountain holds the beauty of mountainous woodlands with a rich historical backdrop.

Broad Run breaches the mountain at Thoroughfare Gap, and in colonial times it served as a vital passage between Shenandoah Valley farms and the port at Alexandria. Here too Civil War troops passed enroute to landmark battles at nearby Manassas. Bull Run's wooded slopes and lush cove forests are quieter now, making them ideal for exploring.

The Bull Run Mountains Conservancy manages 800 acres of the preserve, and High Point Mountainvolunteers maintain a network of trails that rise to spectacular west-facing quartzite cliffs, as well as probe the coves where remains of settlers homes and their cemeteries await the intrepid explorer.

Getting to the trailhead: Bull Run Mountains is 40 miles west of Washington, via the US 55/Haymarket exit on I-66.

Contact: Bull Run Mountains Conservancy

We wrote the book!

This hike is fully described with mile-by-mile cues, history and map in the Burnhams' upcoming book, Day Hikes Near DC.