The Occoquan area of Northern Virginia sometimes feels like a hidden gem to me. I am in the thankful position of being not more than a 15 minute drive from Occoquan – without traffic. And the “without traffic” part is key and I also think that is the reason Occoquan has remained a “road-less-traveled” oasis. Occoquan Regional Park has over 350 acres and an expansive waterfront. The newly-remodeled Events center features a year-round eatery, the Brickmakers Café, which also offers lovely water views and a dog-friendly patio.
History buffs will learn that then-adjacent Lorton Work House Prison was home to many, including 168 detained from June to December 1917, as a result of the women’s suffrage movement in DC. Also at the park, is the 100 year-old and last remaining beehive brick kiln, used by prisoners to churn out many of the red bricks used in Northern Virginia and DC buildings. At 15 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter, it’s an impressive structure.
Occoquan Regional Park has a number of trails to explore, both paved and undeveloped. You can choose from a short waterside stroll up to about a 5K (3.1 miles). For this article we explore the 1.8 mile paved outer loop of the park because it offers the most water views, which is a true highlight of this park.
As you enter the park, there is a long downhill drive. You have the ability to park at any point there is a parking area, but a great center parking point is the main lot. As soon as you see the beehive kiln and the events center, park in the lot across the street. The access to the trail is just beyond the kiln on the water side. After you park, head towards the kiln, there is a trail that leads down towards the water to the right of the kiln. As you head down the path, turn right when it intersects with the waterfront trail. This is an easy-to-follow, paved trail that loops around the park. The trail follows the waterline for the first .7 miles, with a number of water access points. Towards the back of the park you’ll loop around some athletic fields and at 1 mile you’ll begin heading back along the road. The most scenic portion of the trail is the waterfront first .7 miles.
Worthwhile Sidetrip: As you make your return trip back to the parking lot, you’ll have a few opportunities to turn right and head up a trail into the woods that loops through the wooded and hilly back section of the park where you’ll encounter a lovely stream, dozens of gorgeous bird species and solitude. The trails are marked with a blue blaze, but the park does not have any maps of the area. There are a few places where the trail splits. It is a worthwhile trek if you have the time and want to hike an additional roughly 2 miles.
Logistics: There are restrooms located at the Events center, also beside the Brickmakers Café, and at the ½ way mark of the trail on the other end of the park.
Distance: 1.8 miles.
Fido Friendly Features: Shaded, waterside, waterfront dog-friendly patio.
Best time to go: Anytime during park hours.
Access: There is plenty of free parking available at the park. Exit for Occoquan from 95. Take 123 N to Occoquan Regional Park on your right. The park is mostly open dusk to dawn daily, check the website for details: https://www.novaparks.com/parks/occoquan-regional-park
Rated: 1 Paw. The trail is very easy, no hills, 100% paved surface.
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About Your Guide
Angela Hazuda Meyers is the owner of both NOVADog Magazine and a lovely pup named Maggie.