Safety

The Prince William Forest Park staff want to make sure that your visit is as enjoyable and safe as possible. On this page you can find tips, policies, and laws that are in place to ensure the safety of park visitors, staff, and resources. A complete list of park-specific laws can be found in the Superintendent's Compendium. Additional information about the different types of hazardous conditions that exist within national parks is also available.

IF YOU NEED HELP

  • If you are in the park and need urgent assistance call 1-866-677-6677 for National Park Service Law Enforcement Dispatch.
  • Non-emergency situations can be reported to any staff member or by calling the park visitor center at (703) 221-7181.

Local hospital:
Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center
2300 Opitz Blvd
Woodbridge VA 22191703-670-1313

 

General Safety

  1. Know before you go - review safety guidelines prior to your visit
  2. Be aware of your surroundings
  3. Know your limits when planning a hike or other activity
  4. Drink plenty of water. taying hydrated is important year-round. Water fountains are located throughout the park and there is a water bottle refill station at the visitor center.Please note that drinking water is not readily available the trails and in the backcountry. Water from streams and creeks may not be potable - never drink from a natural source that you haven't purified. It is advised that visitors review tips for purifying natural water before they seek out drinking water from natural sources.

Weather

Prince William Forest Park experiences four seasons. The summer months may be extremely hot while the winter months have recorded temperatures below freezing. High winds, heavy rainfall, snow, and ice are to be expected. Some things to consider when visiting the park:

  • Dress appropriately for the weather (layer up in the winter and wear breathable materials in the summer)
  • Wear sunscreen
  • Wear appropriate footwear for outdoor activities
  • Seek shade regularly when temperatures are high

Visitors are encouraged to check weather listings prior to their visit to ensure conditions and use caution when visiting when weather is severe. Park hours of operation and services are subject to change in the event of incliment weather. Please check for park alerts or call (703) 221-7181 in the event of incliment weather for updated hours of operation.

 

Bicycle Safety

Road or off road biking is allowed in the park on designated paved and gravel roads. A designated bike and pedestrian path begins at Parking Lot D on Scenic Drive. Visitors enjoying the park via bicycle must adhere to the following safety requirements:

  • Helmets are required when operating a bicycle or e-bike within the park
  • Riders must ride single file when using paved roads
  • Individuals on bicycles must yield to hikers and other non-motorized recreationalists
  • Riders must obey all traffic regulations including speed limits posted within the park
 

Wildlife Safety

Prince William Forest Park is home to a diverse group of wild animals, including deer, fox, coyote, squirrel, raccoon, black bear, birds, and snakes. Prince William Forest Park is a place where these animals can live and thrive in their natural habitat. Please review wildlife safety tips and policies as part of your visit.
In order to ensure the safety and conservation of natural resources, the following are prohibited within the boundary of Prince William Forest Park:

  • Hunting, trapping, and poaching wildlife
  • Harassing and feeding wildlife
  • Removing animals from the park as well as releasing animals into the wild

Visitors should report any unusual or illegal activity relating to wildlife to park staff by calling park dispatch at 866-677-6677.

 

Plant Safety

There are thousands of species of plants in the park. While many are harmless, there are some plants that can cause harm to people and domesticated animals. The park does allow for some plants to be collected and consumed. A complete list is available in the Superintendent's Compendium. Never touch or eat a plant that you have not successfully identified as safe or allowed by park policy.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is a three leafed flowering plant or hairy vine that is well known for causing an itching, irritating, and sometimes painful rash in most people. You can get poison ivy rash from touching it, or touching something that has touched it, like your clothes or your dog. Poison Ivy is common throughout the piedmont forest, however it can be mostly found near or along trails where the soil has been disturbed. It is important to stay on the trail to prevent from getting poison ivy. Volunteers and staff maintain the trails to keep poison ivy back from the side of the trails. If you believe you can in contact with poison ivy wash your hands or infected area with warm soapy water as soon as possible.

Last updated: April 18, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

18100 Park Headquarters Road
Triangle, VA 22172

Phone:

(703) 221-7181

Contact Us