Comprehensive Trail Plan / Environmental Assessment
The National Park Service (NPS) wants to improve trails in Prince William Forest Park, a national park enjoyed by 360,000 people each year, adjacent to Marine Corps Base Quantico. Everyone is encouraged to share their ideas about trail use and maintenance, new trails including mountain biking and bridle trails, and trails that are accessible to people with disabilities.
Prince William Forest Park is developing a Comprehensive Trail Plan to provide comprehensive guidance for enhancing the Park's trails system and visitor experience in a manner that is sympathetic with the natural and cultural surroundings and balances overall resource protection with intended trail uses and long-term management. The Plan is meant to provide Park managers with a framework by which they can manage and maintain existing trails; close/re-align existing trails when needed; add new trails and access points where appropriate; and, where feasible, create trails that are universally accessible.
The Plan is needed to address the following concerns and on-going issues affecting the Park's trail system:
• Over the years, trail segments were added incrementally without an adequate comprehensive approach resulting in an overall trail system that has connection issues and is difficult to maintain.
• Many of the Park's existing trails have eroded and degraded due to poor design and alignment, resulting in safety concerns.
• Due to heavy use and erosion, some trail segments are contributing to stream bank failures, which increases stream sedimentation and habitat degradation.
• Some trail segments do not connect features of interest within the Park, which encourages Park visitors to go off trail creating resource issues.
• There is a lack of standardized trail signage.
• The full breadth of allowable Park trail uses has never been comprehensively planned and assessed.
• The Park lacks logical connections to, and integration with, local and regional trail systems.
• There is no direct access to the Park for the communities along the Route 234 corridor, requiring those Park neighbors to either travel a considerable distance to access the Park or enter the Park through the use of social trails.
• Certain Park destinations, such as Carter's Pond and the Pine Grove Picnic Area, do not fully meet accessibility standards.
Located in Prince William and Stafford Counties, Virginia, Prince William Forest Park is the largest protected natural area in Northern Virginia. The park features approximately 40 miles of trails, protects more than 14,000 acres of Eastern Piedmont forest and much of the Quantico Creek watershed, and maintains the largest collection of Civilian Conservation Corps structures available for public use in the National Park System. This forested oasis along Virginia's I-95 corridor, allows people to explore nature and history from trails, historic cabin camps, RV campgrounds, backcountry campsites, and an 8-mile scenic drive. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/prwi and on Facebook @prwinps.
As visitors hike, bike and explore Prince William Forest Park in increasing numbers, the park is looking for fresh ideas to improve its trail system.