Hiking Manassas National Battlefield Park
© by Bill and Mary Burnham
The grasslands and forests of Manassas National Battlefield Park offer a bucolic setting for a day hike that is steeped in the bloody and tragic history of the Civil War.
The battle of First Manassas in the summer of 1862 was a victory for the South. Historians point to it as the first sign the "War Between The States" would be a longer, more protracted fight than many believed or hoped.
The battle of Second Manassas opened the door for the South's first invasion of the North. In places like Deep Cut, Chin Ridge, and the Unfinished Railroad, this battlefield's rich history is as palpable as the fields and pastures, woods and wetlands are beautiful.
From the park's visitor Center, a signboard gives you several routes. An 8.6-mile loop takes in many highlights of the battlefield. The going is generally easy on gently rolling terrain with only a few steep climbs.
The Forgotten Railroad is an old earthen berm built prior to the Civil War, intended to support a railroad between Manassas Gap Railroad and the port city of Alexandria.
During the Second Battle, Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson used two miles of the railroad bed as his line of defense.
A variety of routes offer diversity, from handicapped accesible paved routes to rugged horse trails.
Getting there: From Interstate 66: Take Exit 47B for Virginia 234 north. Drive 0.7 miles north and turn right into Manassas National Battlefield Park, following signs for visitor center. In 0.1 mile park in the lot at the top of Henry Hill.
Contact: Manassas National Battlefield Park
Maps: USGS: Gainesville, VA.
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.