This bicycle loop connects four scenic Leesburg parks where you can see the natural beauty and history of this corner of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail network.
What you will see: Amazing views of the Potomac from the bluffs high above, the site of a brief but horrific Civil War battle; afterward, visit the charming town of Leesburg.
The day begins and ends in Leesburg, with breakfast in an old-fashioned family diner. The town is popular with antiques hunters, but very welcoming to hikers and cyclists in outdoor garb. Alternately, you can begin the trip at the first stop, Red Rock Wilderness Overlook.
From the intersection of King and Market streets in Leesburg, take Market Street east. In one block bear left at the fork onto Edwards Ferry Road. Follow Edwards Ferry through town, then cross the busy Route 7 Bypass, remaining on Edwards Ferry Road until it reaches 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 prospect 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.
From the Redrock parking area, turn right and follow Edwards Ferry Road to Battlefield Parkway; turn right and follow the parkway to a right turn onto Balls Bluff Road.
In three blocks, leave the suburbs behind and escape into woodlands and the site of one of the Potomac River’s most intense battles of the Civil War: Balls Bluff Regional Park. Trails at Balls Bluff lead to terrific views of the Potomac River. 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. 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.
Turn onto Route 15, then down Tutt Lane to the northern entrance to Morven Park. This 1,000-acre estate, home of World War I-era Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis, includes history spanning over 200 years. Exhibits interpret a Confederate camp located here during the Civil War, Gov. Davis’ contributions during World War I, the 19th century Winmill Carriage Collection of horse-drawn carriages, and Marguerite Davis’ boxwood gardens.
The path leaving Morven Park comes out to Old Waterford Rd. Take a left onto Old Waterford Rd. and then a right on Morven Park Rd. Follow this to Market Street and turn left onto Market Street and ride into town for lunch. Then retrace your way out Market Street to Catoctin Circle; turn left and follow to Children’s Center Road. Turn left and follow the road to its end at Rust Sanctuary.
Rust Sanctuary: This 69-acre preserve operated by the Audubon Naturalist Society has both lovely gardens and wild habitat for birds and mammals. Leaving Rust: If you started the day in Leesburg, turn left and return to Market Street and downtown. If you’re returning to Red Rock, turn right onto Catoctin Circle and follow the road around Leesburg back to Edwards Ferry Road, then turn right to return to Red Rock Wilderness Overlook.