Hike Algonkian Regional Park to White's Ferry

On this hike, the route leaves the Potomac River to follow local trails through Loudoun County neighborhoods, primarily along the county’s network of parkways. It is an interim route available and accessible today while Loudoun County and others consider options for additional PHT segments.

En route to White’s Ferry, the route visits two exceptional Potomac sites, Red Rock Wilderness Area and Balls Bluff. It crosses into Maryland at White’s Ferry—on the ferry, that is—and connects with the C & O Canal NHP.

Red Rock and Balls Bluff are exceptional natural areas with immediate contact with the Potomac. Balls Bluff commemorates and interprets the Civil War battle fought there. Both offer the kind of immediate escape from hustle and bustle that the best urban and suburban parks provide.

The walks along the parkways are pleasant and, at times, scenic. Admittedly, people are unlikely to travel to the region merely to hike this segment through suburbia. Still, the parkways illustrate a moment in America’s story, one in which mammoth-scale residential development gives rise to the realization of the parkway idea. Loudoun County is laced with new and planned parkways designed both to move people efficiently by car and enable them to travel leisurely on foot. While some of these boulevards are nothing more than sidewalk-lined suburban arteries, others uphold the ideal of the “park way,” a green (or at least greenish) ribbon connecting communities .

 

Trip Planner

Start: Algonkian Regional Park boat launch area
End: White’s Ferry crossing of the Potomac River
Miles: 14.0
Points of Interest: Algonkian Regional Park, Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park, Balls Bluff
Parking: In addition to parking at each park along the way, most of the hike follows public roads that provide for temporary parking.
Water, Restrooms: Algonkian Regional Park. The lack of woodland “cover” along the parkways presents the biggest challenge of this hike!
Provisions: White’s Ferry store on Maryland shore
Camping, lodging: Cottages at Algonkian Park, campsites one mile upriver and one mile downriver from White’s Ferry along the C&O Canal Towpath, B&Bs in Leesburg

 

Hike Data

Mile Navigation
0 From the parking lot of the launch area, walk toward the park entrance, following the park access road. Just beyond the parking area, turn right and continue on the park road. Goolf course will be on your left.
0.7 Turn right on Cascades Parkway (you're still in the park).
0.8 Leave the park and continue on Cascades Parkway.
1.0 Turn right on Algonkian Parkway, following trails and sidewalks.
3.4 Turn right on Winding Way, the last street before reaching Route 7 overpass.
3.9 Turn left on Broad Run, then in 75 yards turn right on Route 7. Stay on the shoulder.
4.1 This is the one tricky spot on the hike. With traffic merging from the right, you need to cross the merge lane to reach the shoulder of Route 7. Continue on Route 7.
5.9 Turn right at Landsdowne Boulevard.
6.2 Turn left on Riverside Parkway. For the first 300 yards, stay on the shoulder, then follow trail and sidewalks.
7.2 Cross Belmont Road. Continue on Riverside Parkway.
7.8 Cross Goose Creek.
8.4 Turn right on River Creek Parkway. Follow trail and sidewalks.
9.2 Road turns left and becomes Edwards Ferry Road.
9.4 Red Rock Wilderness Overlook.
10.3 Turn right on Battlefield Parkway. Follow sidewalks and trails.
11.1 Balls Bluff Road. To reach Balls Bluff Regional Park, turn right and follow Balls Bluff Road 0.4 miles.
11.3 Turn right on Route 15. Follow shoulder.
13.0 Turn right on White's Ferry Road. The first 200 yards are tight, but except when a ferry has just arrived on the Virginia shore, traffic is light. After the first 200 yards, sight lines are good.
13.8 Turn left at the bottom of the hill.
14.0

White's Ferry crossing of the Potomac.



 

Explore

Algonkian Regional Park
This waterfront park is primarily known for its boat launch area, golf and picnicking. Cottages are available for overnight use.

Balls Bluff Regional Park
The park commemorates the October 21, 1861 Battle of Balls Bluff. The two sides met with roughly 1,700 troops apiece, but it ended in a route, with Confederate soldiers capturing more than 500 Union prisoners as they fled into the Potomac River. An interpretive trail tells the battle’s story. Balls Bluff National Cemetery also is on the grounds; 54 Union soldiers, all but one unknown are buried here. There are no restrooms or services at this site.

Leesburg
An historic village with many places to eat and drink and sip coffee, Leesburg also is home the Balch Library, one of the best local-history libraries anywhere. Leesburg is popular with antiques hunters, but very welcoming to hikers in boots. Among the culinary surprises are terrific fish & chips, Central American charcoal-broiled chicken, and a couple of fine delis. There also are fine dining restaurants that pride themselves in serving up locally grown food and wine, and a wonderful, authentic diner.

Red Rock Wilderness Overlook
You can spend an hour or a day in this park enjoying the woods and views of the Potomac. The white-blazed Pine Loop Trail is a 1.4 mile circuit that takes you down to the river and up to overlooks offering prospects of the water and the historic C & O Canal in Maryland. There are plentiful stream crossings—all over footbridges. Several connecting trails allow you to vary your hike with each visit or create shorter circuits. Near the parking area are the remains of 19th century outbuildings. Near the house, which is a private residence, are a restored smokehouse and icehouse. There are no restrooms or services.

Last updated: July 27, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
P. O. Box B

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Phone:

(304) 535-4014

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