The Railroad Ford Trail is located in beautiful Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania County near Richmond, Virginia. The park boasts 2,463 acres with swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding and camping. The park has 11 trails totaling 15 miles, 12 of which are multi-use.
This loop trail (which is rough but wheelchair-accessible) is a section of the original 17.5-mile rail corridor that was established in 1917 to support the war effort in Europe. The railroad was used to transport ore from Holladay Mine, 5 miles north, to Allah Cooper Mine, 7 miles down the track. Lead and zinc were extracted from the ore and transported 10 miles to Mineral, Virginia, where they were then shipped on the C&O Railroad to northern factories to make bullets and shell cartridges. Today, visitors will find a beautiful walking trail, sun-dappled by a tree canopy.
To find the trailhead, follow the sidewalk past the visitor center and boat-rental area. The trail begins at the marker where the sidewalk ends. From the trail marker, bear right to begin your walk along this loop. The 0.75 mile takes you along a packed dirt path that runs parallel to the lake. Take in the rich lake views and try out the many short paths to reach the water's edge, where you can access one of the many benches along this stretch. When the trail bears left after less than a mile, it becomes wider, elevated and flat.
It's easy to imagine the route of the original railroad corridor here and, indeed, a historical railroad sign is also posted along this section. As you conclude your walk, the trail intersects with the Glenora Trail, a wide equestrian trail. Turn left at this intersection for a short stretch that completes the loop.
The park's opening hours vary seasonally and there is user fee.
Parking and Trail Access
From Washington, D.C., or Richmond, Virginia, take Interstate 95 to the Thornburg Exit (Exit 118). Go west on State Route 208 and follow signs to Lake Anna State Park. Drive, about 11 miles on SR 208. After passing a high school on your left, the road takes a sharp left turn. You will see a pretty white farm house on the corner and a sign for the state park indicating you should follow SR 208 and bear left. Go approximately 7 more miles and turn right onto SR 601. Travel 3.3 miles and turn left into Lake Anna State Park.
Shortly after the park entrance, you will have to pay a park entrance fee. Continue following the main entrance road until it ends at the beach and main parking area. At the back of the parking lot, you will see the Lake Anna State Park Visitor Center (open Memorial Day to Labor Day). Follow the sidewalk past the visitor center and boat-rental area to the trailhead.