More Trails

The Crossing Trail leads into the forest on a damp spring day.
The Crossing Trail

National Park Service

The Crossing Trail

0.5 miles, 0.8 kilometers

The Crossing Trail is a short, easy hike that starts near Telegraph Pavilion and loops back to the road near the trailhead. Follow the green blazes to remain on the Crossing Trail or connect to the Birch Bluff Trail by following the red blazes.

At 0.3 miles along the trail, you will come across a portion of the abandoned Telegraph Road. This road was used by General George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau to travel from Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia during the Revolutionary War. In later years, it served as the main north and south thoroughfare for area travelers. This road witnessed the changing of modes of transportation over the centuries - from horseback to stagecoach. Route 1, and later Interstate 95, now take its place.

Telegraph road, now the Crossing trail
A downed pine tree lies across the remnants of Old Telegraph Road.

Photo credit NPS

An informational sign can be found where Telegraph Road intersects the Crossing Trail, providing more information on the history of the old road. The path is marked as part of the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail.

Traveling along this path, you occasionally walk on sediments deposited by ancient seas. Today these deposits form the soils of the Coastal Plain. Along with the terrain, the climate and forest have also changed over the ages. Today's woodland scene of oaks, hickories, and tulip trees was once the setting of swamps, marshes, and cypress trees.

Tributary of Little Run Loop

National Park Service

Little Run Loop Trail

0.6 miles, 1.0 kilometers

Little Run Loop Trail is a short, but moderate trail that starts behind Turkey Run Education Center and meets up with High Meadows Trail. The trail is blazed yellow and is perfect for a short hike with good views. The circle-like nature of this trail, and its many connections with other trails, can make it confusing. Be sure to follow the posted signs and trail blazes on your hike.

Turkey Run Ridge
Turkey Run Ridge

National Park Service

As you descend you will come upon Turkey Run Ridge and a small tributary of South Fork Quantico Creek. As you follow the trail you will also follow a small tributary and cross over a few footbridges until you meet up with High Meadows Trail.

Footbridge over Mary Bird Branch Trail creek
Footbridge over Mary Bird Branch

National Park Service

Mary Byrd Branch Trail

0.5 miles, 0.8 kilometers

The Mary Byrd Branch Trail is a short, easy trail that starts at Parking Lot E and ends on Old Black Top Road. Here you can meet up with trails such as Little Run Loop, High Meadows Trail and Turkey Run Ridge Trail.

After traveling along the trail for about five to ten minutes you will descend into some low lying areas. Some of these areas collect water and have been made more accessible with boards.

A little further down the path, you will come upon Mary Byrd Branch Tributary, which empties out into South Fork Quantico Creek. There is a small bridge crossing over the creek.

Mary Bird Branch Creek with footbridge in the background & beaver activity along Mary Bird Branch creek
Beaver activity along Mary Bird Branch Creek

National Park Service

At Mary Byrd Branch there are opportunities to see beaver activity. From the 1600s through the 1800s, there was a high demand for beaver skins, and the once-thriving population was severely diminished. In fact, beavers disappeared from the Virginia colony even before it became the Commonwealth of Virginia. Soon, beavers became extirpated (extinct from an area) across the entire lower 48 states.

In the early 1950s, two pairs of beavers were brought in and released along Mary Byrd Branch. This stream does not always maintain a heavy flow of water from year to year, so the beavers move on to other, more suitable, locations in the park. When the water level is high once again, they return.

The result of the beaver activity is the creation of new fertile habitats for plants and animals. There are many stages of habitat changes brought about by beavers along this stream. As you walk along the stream, see if you can locate older pond sites by the absence of a tree canopy and an abundance of new sprouts from gnawed stumps.

From here it is only a short walk up to Old Black Top Road.

Beaver dam in the creek on Oak Ridge Trail
Beaver Dam

National Park SErvice

Oak Ridge Trail

1.6 miles, 2.6 kilometers

Oak Ridge Trail is a short, level trail that starts at Oak Ridge Campground and ends on Old Black Top Road. The trail is marked with yellow blazes and has opportunities to see beaver activity. Just down from the campground, South Valley Trail will branch off to the right. After about 15 minutes, you will cross over Scenic Drive. Continue on for another 20 minutes and you will come to a small creek meandering through the forest.

Keep your eye out along the creek for beaver activity. The beaver was extirpated in this area by the late 1700s a result of the fur trade. Reintroduction occurred in the 1950s and populations have flourished.

Ground cedar along trail edges
Ground cedar along trail edges

National Park Service

Notice the ground cedar that covers the forest floor. Ground cedar (Lycopodium complanatum) is small, perennial plant with horizontal stems that creep along the forest floor. They grow up to a meter long with flattened, cedar-like stems.

On March 27, 2006 a 318-acre wildland fire began near the B-loop of Oak Ridge Campground, and was finally extinguished on April 4, 2006 due to the efforts of over 70 wildland firefighters.

Turkey Run Ridge Trail
Turkey Run Ridge Trail

National Park Service

Turkey Run Ridge Trail

1.4 miles, 2.3 kilometers

Turkey Run Ridge is a moderately-difficult trail between the Turkey Run Education Center and the South Fork of Quantico Creek. The trail starts at the Turkey Run Environmental Center next to the Turkey Run Ridge Campground sign. The trail is blazed with dark blue and can be used to connect with South Valley Trail.

The trail is about a 30 minute, moderate walk up and down small hills. about half way through the walk you will cross over the scenic drive and continue toward South Fork Quantico Creek.

South Fork Quantico Creek and view of Scenic Drive bridge
South Fork Quantico Creek and Scenic Drive bridge

National Park Service

At the end of Turkey Run Ridge Trail you will come upon a small footbridge with the South Fork Quantico Creek in front of you. Cross over the bridge to follow South Valley Trail east toward North Orenda Road and Laurel Loop Trail.

Take South Valley Trail to the west and you will have wonderful view of a Scenic Drive bridge that crosses over South Fork Quantico Creek. From here you can continue of South Valley Trail or stop at Parking Lot A.

Last updated: December 12, 2022

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