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The Unfinished Railroad Loop Trail is a short hiking trail within Manassas National Battlefield Park. The rail-trail runs on a corridor planned in the mid-19th century as a complement to the Manassas Gap Railroad’s main line, which linked Manassas with Mount Jackson, Virginia. The 35-mile extension, intended to connect Gainesville with Alexandria, never received track due to the outbreak of the Civil War and the railroad's financial difficulties, although its entire length was cleared and graded.
The incomplete corridor played a crucial role in the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas), when Confederate forces under General "Stonewall" Jackson used the railroad's deep cuts as a defensive position. Throughout the war, the corridor served as a vital transportation route for both the Union and Confederacy.
In the present day, a portion of the unfinished corridor is now open to hikers. Interpretive markers along the way denote the thrilling history of the rail line and battlefield, while abundant ferns and wildflowers are sure to please nature lovers.
Although the trail ultimately loops back to the trailhead on Featherbed Lane, hikers can continue north on the corridor via the Sudley Connector Trail to reach Sudley Church. Alternatively, continue southwest on the corridor to follow the Second Manassas Trail, a 6.2-mile trek uniting the historic sites of the Second Battle of Bull Run.
Parking for the Unfinished Railroad Loop Trail is available at a trailhead on Featherbed Lane. From Washington D.C., travel on Interstate 66 west. Take Exit 47B towards Manassas Battlefield National Park, and continue north on Sudley Road (State Route 234). At Lee Highway (US 29), turn left. Take the first right onto Featherbed Lane. The trailhead with ample parking is located on the right, directly across from General Trimbles Lane.
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