Here’s an outing that combines three of our favorite ways to enjoy Fall: a nice hike, a gorgeous vista, and a relaxing glass of wine. Tackle Bull Run Mountains on a crisp, clear day in October when the foliage peaks, then visit the Winery at La Grange, and you have a perfect Fall outing.
[box]UPDATE 5/16/15: The High Point cliff area on the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve closed for an indefinite period of recovery and restoration starting January 15, 2015. Check the website for further updates.[/box]
Bull Run Mountains Hike to White Rocks Overlook
Trails in the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve are maintained by Bull Run Mountains Conservancy (BRMC), which also holds educational programs in the preserve. BMRC maintains a parking area on Beverly Mill Drive, which is the trailhead for most of the trails up to the White Rocks overlook. Note that dogs are not allowed on the BRMC trails, though we saw several people ignore the signs and bring their dogs anyway.
There are several different ways to reach the White Rocks overlook, so consider downloading or printing the Bull Run Mountains trail map to bring along. To reach most of the trails you’ll begin your hike by entering through the gate and crossing the railroad tracks.
Numbered posts mark the start of each trail segment with colored dots, but you will not see colored blazes on the trees between posts. Just check your position at each post to ensure you’re on the trail you wanted.
On our ascent, we followed the white Mountain Road trail then turned left on the blue Bull Run Ridge Trail. This was a well-traveled and popular route with some moderately steep sections over rocky terrain.
Once you reach the ridge, the hike is more level and you begin to catch glimpses of the view. Fight the urge to climb through the bush for a look; amazing views are just up ahead. You’ll know you’ve reached the White Rocks Overlook when you see wooden fenced paths to your left.
Most of us will take the first fenced trail to get to that incredible view (we did), but if you want more privacy continue a bit further to one of the later turns. Wherever you turn, stay on the marked trails and remember you’re on private property.
Elevation at the White Rocks High Point is 1311 feet, but we felt on top of the world with the beautiful hills of the Virginia Piedmont rolling west to the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is plenty of room to spread out, even if you visit on a busy weekend.
We descended on the yellow Hickory Trail, which was a steep but enjoyable wooded trail that borders the Catlett’s Branch stream. At post 7 we connected to the blue Bull Run Ridge Trail for the return to the parking lot.
Next visit we’ll avoid the Mountain Road, which is eroded and not as nice as the more wooded trails, and try an alternate ascent. The green Quarry Trail passes Chapman’s Cemetery and the quarry trench, and the Fern Hollow Trail passes closer to Chapman Mill (all marked on the map).
If you visit on the weekend, parking may be crowded. If you can’t find a spot, head back out Beverly Drive and park near post 16, where you can begin on the green Laurel Trail and take a longer approach to the overlook.
The Winery at La Grange
You’re hot, you’re tired, and you’ve earned a little relaxation. Lucky for you, there’s a lovely winery just a few miles away. With eight acres of vineyards and a restored 1790s manor house, The Winery at La Grange is a beautiful setting inside and out.
We enjoyed a glass of wine on adirondack chairs facing the vineyard while other groups gathered at picnic tables, the outdoor tasting bar, and the stone fireplace. Down the hill, families played catch and corn hole, with plenty of space for the kids to run around. Indoors, another tasting bar and an enclosed sun porch offer space for cooler days.
A beautiful hike, a beautiful view, a delicious glass of wine, a perfect Fall day.
Bull Run Mountains Conservancy
17405 Beverly Mill Drive
Broad Run, VA 20137
The Winery at La Grange
4970 Antioch Road
Haymarket, VA 20169