The 301-acre wildlife habitat includes 115 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, which allows for growth of one of the area’s largest swaths of Virginia bluebells.
Over the weekend, my son and I strolled the Bluebell Trail, a loop hike across the south section of Merrimac Farm. The bluebells were already in bloom.
A second hiking trail called the Pond Trail forms a loop in the north section of this WMA. It’s a cinch to connect the two for an easy 3.3-mile hike.
|Trail Type||Double Loop|
|Elevation Gain||79 feet|
|Terrain||Mostly dirt, grass & gravel trails, some wooden boardwalk|
|Driving Directions||Click Here|
When you arrive at Merrimac Farm, you will note that there are three parking areas: Cedar Run, Stone House and North. All are very small lots.
The closest parking area to the Bluebell Trail and Pond Trail is the Stone House lot. However, the Cedar Run parking area is the suggested parking lot.
The drive to the Stone House lot is curious. You must drive .2 miles down a gravel road marked with a sign that reads “Vehicles Prohibited – Foot Travel Welcome.”
The sign is just steps from the Cedar Run lot, which is where we parked. We then walked to the trail kiosk at the Stone House parking area.
On the way back to the car, the gate was closed and locked. Like, really locked, not like an open lock was just hanging on the metal gate. It was odd.
The North parking area is at the north end of the Pond Trail. It’s little more than a cul-de-sac. There’s room for maybe a half-dozen cars to park.
From the Stone House parking area, you will see the Stone House Visitor Center. We did not venture inside because we thought it was a personal residence.
There is not even a sign to indicate that the stone house is a visitor information center. Look to the left to see a sign for the Bluebell Trail.
Within the first few steps on this light blue-blazed trail, you will see a spring house. The underground stream was once used as a source of refrigeration.
As you continue on, you’ll encounter the first of several stretches of wooden boardwalk that guide you across moist woodlands and shaded floodplains.
Virginia bluebells thrive in moist soils, so it’s no surprise that the colorful bluebells are just a few more steps up the hiking trail.
On our visit, the Virginia bluebells were just beginning to bloom. No doubt these native perennials will be much more showy in the coming weeks.
The bluebells are all along the banks of Cedar Run, but once you walk away from the water at the .9-mile mark, the bluebells start to disappear, too.
You’ll cross over a few more stretches of boardwalk and pass a bench or two before reaching the Green Level Cemetery at the 1.3-mile mark.
This historic cemetery is home to five marble tablet-style headstones of residents of Green Level Plantation with dates that precede the Civil War.
At the 1.5-mile mark, you’ll reach an old red barn. Here, you can continue looping on the Bluebell Trail to return to the parking area.
Alternatively, you can pick up the Pond Trail, which sets off north from the old red barn. There is a wooden bench if you’d like to break before continuing on.
The Pond Trail starts as a mostly grass hiking trail, then becomes mostly gravel. The small pond comes into view at the 1.7-mile mark.
There is a relaxing bench in the shade for relaxing and taking in the views across the pond. This trail has the same light blue blazes as the Bluebell Trail.
The Pond Trail is also well-marked with directional arrows, so it’s easy to not get lost on this hike (always a good goal).
Once you pass the pond, it’s a fairly basic walk along a wide path that runs alongside private land. You’ll then walk into the forest at the 2.1-mile mark.
In a few more steps, you’ll reach the small North parking area. Continue past the lot to stay on the Pond Trail.
At the 2.6-mile mark, you’ll be back at the small pond. On the right is what I assume is an observation blind for hunting or wildlife-watching (or both).
Walk past the bench at the pond and re-trace your steps to the old red barn at the 2.8-mile mark.
From here, continue straight ahead to jump back on the Bluebell Trail. You’ll return to the stone visitor center at the 3.1-mile mark.
Re-trace your steps along the gravel road to the Cedar Run parking area. Your double-loop hike is complete at the 3.3-mile mark.
From the parking area, this hike took us around 90 minutes, including time spent ogling the seasonal bluebells.
You may want to print out this trail walk guide created by the Prince William Conservation Alliance, which includes 16 stops on the Bluebell Trail.
Note that we went clockwise on the Bluebell Trail, but the trail walk guide completes the trail in a counter-clockwise direction.
A Bluebell Festival is held each year at Merrimac Farm to celebrate the spring blooms with naturalist-led activities. This year’s festival is on April 10, 2022.
Wildlife Management Areas
Access to WMAs in Virginia requires visitors age 17 and up to have a $4 daily access permit. You cannot buy a permit on-site. It is also not well-enforced.
There are exceptions. For example, if you have a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license, or a valid boat registration, you do not need to have a daily access permit.
You can buy a daily access permit online. Daily permits are also sold at select DMVs, grocery stores, sporting goods stores and gas stations.
I’m not saying you don’t need a daily access permit, but I think permits are intended for hunters, anglers and boaters. This is why I noted this hike is free.