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The Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail (DRHT) traverses a scenic forested landscape abounding with wildlife in Virginia's Northern Neck. The rail-trail, which was designated as a National Recreation Trail in 2018, follows the route of the old Dahlgren Branch Line from the Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Center west toward Fredericksburg. The pathway is also part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, which extends from the Chesapeake Bay to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The trail opened in 2006 as a privately owned recreational facility accessible by permit. The trail is maintained by a non-proft organization known as the Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail. Permits can be completed for free and online at the Friends of the DRHT website: https://www.dahlgrentrail.org/use-permits.html
Parking and access information is available on the Friends of DRHT website.
As others have said - variable surface, smooth to pretty rough. I rode 12+12 from the west end on a bike w/ 40 mm tires, but no suspension. If you have a bike w/ suspension (at least on front), use it.
And within the first 1/2 mile the path crosses the tracks (and the surface changes from smooth bluestone to sloped loose gravel) - that caught me by surprise.
This trail pretty for walking and would be okay on a fat-tire bike with front shocks, but its surface is not for medium or narrow tires. It was a disappointment on my recumbent trike--crawling along on dirt, gravel, exposed railroad ties, and worse. I only rode 3 miles before turning around. However in that short space, I twice had to get off and walk over rails or narrow duckboards.
I started out planning to ride the entire trail, beginning at the trailhead on Bloombury Rd. I made it to Mile Marker 4, which is another trailhead, and decided I’d had enough for one day. The scenery is absolutely beautiful, but some have mentioned the rocks. At this end of the trail, there is only gravel. My problem, for which there’s no real solution, was the roots that crisscross the trail. They’re not the huge roots that can take you down, but they’re unavoidable, and there are a lot of them, and they make for pretty rough riding. I agree with those who recommend fat tires/mountain bikes.
Some parts are fine, parts very bumpy, and some sections have very thick, large stones that are difficult to maneuver through.
Our first time on this trail. For cyclist I would recommend a mountain bike, skinny tires would not be fun. Quiet except for the gunshots in the distance the first 1 to 2 miles but hey you are out in the country. Nice tree covered trail reminds me of the Poolesville Md stretch of the C&O Canal Trail. relatively flat. We did not complete the full trail but will most definitely be back. The very few people we ran into on the trail were very friendly.
Bumpy, some areas with large stones, not a pleasurable trail.
I only did 4 miles in of this trail recently, but it was extremely nice. Terrain varies between gravel, pine tags and a few dried mud bogs, but it was most enjoyable and pleasant. Future plans call for hiking the entire length and also a r/t mountain biking excursion.
A challenging ride with lots of rocks, pebbles, and root branches on the trail. Got a great workout going the whole 31 miles. Shotgun blasts by nearby hunters can be disconcerting. I think this trail is more for a mountain bike.
As much as we have enjoyed the uniqueness of this trail our rides have been diminished by the sound of gun and rifle shots that seem to surround the trail. I would like to feel secure that these shotting ranges or properties are a safe distance away. But the first two miles beginning at the trail head do not feel safe.
While in the area I was able to ride a quick 6 mile section from the Route 610 access. Very nice rustic trail with beautiful seanery.
Note that at the time of my ride (Early May) there was very high grass in parts of the trail and the ticks were numerous so take precautions.
Will return for sure for a longer ride.
Did the trail Fri July 29 at noon. Rough trail, best for walking. Got 1/2 mile into the woods and there were enough mosquitoes to pick me up and carry me away. Covered myself with OFF, but still bugs so thick it was not pleasant.
Would be great for a nice hike in the early spring.
This trail may one day be an excellent trail but seems to be fairly young and hasn't been improved too much yet. There are many railroad ties that haven't been removed although they only stick up a bit from the surface. The stones used on the trail are fairly large (pea size to pocket-change size mostly) and, in most places, do not create a well-packed surface. I did 20 miles on the trail (out and back) on a 90 degree July day on a hybrid bike. It's do-able with the hybrid but not ideal. I was constantly having to pull cobwebs off me -- the trail seems to be used very little (in fact, I saw no one else the entire ride). If I were to do the trail again, I would probably stick to the western end; the 10 miles on the West end were a bit better than the East end in terms of the surface, and also in that it was a little less tunnel-like (since the East end was completely enclosed by forest).
Mostly flat and wide dirt/rock/sand trail. Did the sheetz side of it after a lot of rain. Very green and had a couple mud spots but nothing challenging. There is a weird part on the east end of the trail that has you cross a road but it's not a busy one. Saw a lot of squirrels, yearling, Eagles, blue jays, lizards and butterflies. Some is near residential areas and crosses near a cemetary but still gorgeous. Recommend bug spray if walking or biking. If running or biking, should be ok without. Ticks! Plan to do the rest of it later this month.
this is a very beautiful trail and worth the effort. the only hiccup that I can see is that a lot of the trail is large river stone and very difficult with hybrid tires. my partner wore out a tire. it made the whole trip but went flat the next day and upon examination has three holes in it. there are two road crossings that can be dangerous because it's paved road and cars come around a blind curve going pretty fast. I give it 4 stars because I think the choice of large river stones was a bad one.
I ran this for a half marathon it was flat, well maintained and beautiful - the best half marathon for your knees!
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