Located less than 30 miles south of Washington, D.C. is a regional park with access to a challenging trail that stretches nearly 20 miles. Fountainhead Regional Park lies on the Occoquan River, a tributary to the larger Potomac River. It boasts an extensive system of trails primarily used for mountain biking, but there's also another route — the Bull Run/Occoquan Trail — that runs 18 miles along the Occoquan between Bull Run Regional Park and Fountainhead.
It's one of the best trails in the area, and Fountainhead is an ideal place to start.
What Makes It Great
Like many of the Northern Virginia regional parks, Fountainhead has plenty of family-friendly amenities like boating, fishing, and mini golf. Mountain bikers love the three loops of trails that progressively get longer and more difficult, while trail runners find the park to be a great spot to begin a challenging trail run.
The Bull Run/Occoquan Trail snakes up the Occoquan River from Fountainhead, reaching 18 miles inland. Along the way, you'll see historic sites where Civil War battles took place. So it doubles as a history lesson.
The trail surface ranges from dirt to areas littered with rocks and roots, so a good pair of trail running shoes is essential for running on this trail. There are several hills and stream crossings, and those low spots tend to overflow and flood in the spring or after a heavy rainstorm.
The trail and the parks that surround it take up more than 4,000 acres of the peaceful wilderness; don't be surprised if you see deer, wild turkeys, and countless other animals.
It's recommended you bring water and food with you on the the Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, although there are snack bars at the regional parks it passes through.
If you want to stay within Fountainhead Regional Park, you can do a nice out-and-back run of a few miles there. And when you're finished, head over to the mountain bike trails and watch the riders navigate the technical turns and jumps sprinkled throughout the singletrack route.
Who is Going to Love It
Runners appreciate Fountainhead Regional Park for being at the trailhead of the Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, which is still a relatively hidden gem in the D.C. Metro area. It offers 18 miles of pristine trail that pass through other parks as it meanders along the Occoquan River.
Newer runners looking to get in just a few miles can stay within Fountainhead and do just that.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take Rt. 95 south away from Washington, D.C. and get off at exit 163 for Rt. 123 north. Take a left onto Rt. 647 and the park entrance is a few miles down on the left. Parking and entering the park is free.