I love it when I hike a trail close to home, then am pleasantly surprised by its awesomeness. This was my hike on the Wolf Trap Trail in Vienna, Virginia.
Honestly, I had no idea this trail even existed. It’s on the grounds of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, which is essentially a concert venue.
More interestingly, this trail was built and is currently maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club. Again, I had no idea.
A wooded hiking trail encircles the property. Given Wolf Trap is adjacent to the Dulles Toll Road, this hike is at times noisy and still. It’s quite a dichotomy.
Trail Stats Length 2.5 miles
Trail Type Lollipop
Elevation Gain 259 feet
Duration 1.5-2.5 hours
Terrain Mostly dirt & rock trails
Driving Directions Click Here
Wolf Trap Trail
If you choose to follow the AllTrails driving directions, be wary once you enter Wolf Trap. Apple Maps led me onto a road that does not allow vehicles.
Instead, follow the signs for Lot 4. This is where you want to park. The Wolf Trap Trail begins at the back of this parking area.
A short spur trail in the back corner of Lot 4 leads to the Wolf Trap Trail. You can go straight or right. I opted to walk straight ahead for the hiking trail.
The first steps lead you uphill and alongside the tall sound barrier wall that attempts to muffle car noises on the Dulles Toll Road.
You will shortly arrive at the Composer’s Cottage Picnic Area on the left. A few steps off the trail, there are a couple of picnic tables.
At the .1-mile mark, you will descend as well as walk away from the highway to enjoy the stillness of the forest. Follow the blue blazes as you walk.
Wolf Trap Creek
You will walk alongside slow-moving Wolf Trap Creek at the .3-mile mark, then turn right to cross over the stream on a wooden footbridge.
This location is a short hop from the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap. Note the picnic tables to the left for outdoor lunches.
Once you cross the bridge, you’ll see a large trail sign. Turn right here. You’ll cross footbridges and see wooden benches here and there along the trail.
At the .7-mile mark, you will again be close to the highway, but this is the last time as the trail makes a hairpin turn north away from the Dulles Toll Road.
While this trail is marked as easy on AllTrails, this is no flat hike. There are ups and downs, though you will reach a flat section at the 1.3-mile mark.
Wolf Trap Farm Pond
You’ll cross another footbridge over the stream, then walk alongside Wolf Trap Farm Pond. Benches on both ends of the pond allow for refreshing views.
On the north end of the pond, a placard shares the journey of Wolf Trap Farm, a 53-acre plot that grew to become a 168-acre country retreat.
In 1964, the Shouse family gifted this property to the people. Wolf Trap Farm soon became the first and only national park dedicated to the performing arts.
As you proceed on, you will see another bench, then walk through a marshy area before the trail seems to end at Trap Road.
You will see a blue arrow pointing to the left. However, this diverges from the park’s trail map, which suggests crossing over Trap Road.
I wasn’t totally sure what to do, and AllTrails did not cross over, so I continued left along the park road. I then turned left into a large parking area.
This road runs along the outside of the semi-circle shaped parking area. You will not see a blue blaze, but there are two options to continue on.
Wolf Trap Performance Venues
You can turn left onto the first wide paved sidewalk that leads up a hill, then turn left again at the top of the hill.
This will take you past two Wolf Trap venues: the Filene Center and the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods.
Once you pass both, you will again see the family picnic area where you will turn right at the 2.2-mile mark to re-trace your steps to Lot 4.
Alternatively, if you continue around the semi-circle shaped parking area, you will eventually see a second paved walkway where you can turn left.
This will not take you past any venues, but will allow you to complete a perimeter loop around the property and take you back to Lot 4.
I chose the first option because I wanted to see the venues and watch the kids sledding down the massive hill on this snow day.
I finished up my hike at the 2.5-mile mark. I think the second option would be a little bit shorter, but not by much.
From the parking area, this hike took me 75 minutes, including time savoring the stillness of this eye-pleasing winter walk.
Note that if you choose to come on a wintry day with snow on the ground, the park is open to sledders and the sledding hill is large. Highly recommend.
If you are eager for a Northern Virginia day hike, the Wolf Trap Trail is a good choice and at times you will feel miles from the hustle and bustle of NoVA.
For families with small children, this hike is a good choice, but another option is the orange-blazed 1.5-mile Wolf Trap TRACK Trail across the park.