No Spokes Just Laces – A Hike in Prince William Forest Park

I know it’s a blog about bicycling. What can I say? It was 40 something degrees outside when I finished breakfast. I didn’t want to freeze my noo-noos off riding a bike so I decided to go for a hike.

Prince William Forest Park is located right next to Quantico and just off busy I-95. Sounds like a crappy place to hike doesn’t it? Well it’s not.

The park is owned by the National Park Service. Since they are not a charity and since our government is run by a bunch of fiscally incompetent cheap bastards you have to pay a fee. Fortunately for me, I bought and annual National Parks Pass. (Thanks again, Ultrarunnergirl, for telling me about this.) I got in free.

I drove to the park on US 1 because I-95 was, as usual, a parking lot. US 1 is some kind of ugly. For some reason I have lived near it for most of my adult life. South of DC it is an urban planners nightmare.

Having endured nearly an hour of suburban and exurban ugly, I was ready to commune with the forest. Prince William did not disappoint.

I am somewhat notorious for my inability to navigate trails. I always screw up. I found that the trail markings in this park defied comprehension. At one point a mountain biker (I think he was riding illegally but he knew where he was and I didn’t so more power to him) gave me directions. I hiked the Laurel Trail to the South Valley Trail which foll22278796395_595eed0555_zows the south fork of the Quantico Creek. The best part about these trials was the fact that they were smooth. Some of the trails I’ve hiked in Shenandoah National Park and Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland are so rocky that my feet are killing me after a mile or two. Not here. Sure there are a few rocks now and then and some tree roots but sure footing was the rule of the day.

Quantico Creek sure is pretty this time of year. Leaves were changing from green to yellow, brown and red. T22281844875_69700a106f_zhe leaves on the ground made a perfect swishing sound as I walked through them. Sunlight cast spotty shadows all through the surrounding forest.

Now and then I passed small waterfalls. Pretty for the eyes and the ears.

After a few miles along the creek I turned north, headed for the Turkey Run educational Center. I wasn’t looking for learnin’ I was looking for the Turkey Run Ridge Trail. This trail took me back to where the bike rider had given me directions. Along the way, I spooked a deer who was getting a drink in the creek next to the trail. It was a young buck with rather short antlers.

For quite a while I thought I was lost. I passed a couple coming my way. I had seen them on the South Valley Trail earlier so I knew they were hiking my loop in the opposite direction.

The finish was uphill back to the Visitors Center. The wind picked up. Trees started groaning as they swayed and rubbed trunks together. It made a spooky sound. Halloween’s coming, isn’t it.

Despite my proximity to one of the busiest interstate highways in the eastern US, I couldn’t hear any of the traffic. Just the sound of the forest.

The temperature was just right. Mid 50s with very little humidity. I barely broke a sweat. I wore a base layer under an old sweatshirt and shorts.

Tomorrow it’s back to bike commuting. It should be near freezing and dark when I leave home. I’m breaking out the winter gear and my new bicycle death ray. During the day tomorrow I’ll see if I can telecommute for the next five months from Buenos Aires, Christchurch or Melbourne. Maybe if I brought my boss a pumpkin spice latte (better him than me).

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