A hike on the Bull Run Occoquan Trail, followed by a visit to Paradise Springs Winery, is an ideal way to spend an active but peaceful day outdoors in Fairfax County, Virginia. This walk and wine combination expands on our earlier article about the Charms of Clifton, Virginia.
Bull Run Occoquan Trail Hike
The Bull Run – Occoquan Trail follows the Bull Run Stream Valley and Occoquan Reservoir along the western edge of Fairfax County. The trail is 17 miles long, beginning at Bull Run Regional Park in the north, and ending at Fountainhead Regional Park in the south. The trail, which is managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA), offers a chance to see heron, hawks, vultures, and other birds as it meanders along the water’s edge.
While some segments of the trail are steep and challenging, the hike we describe here is mostly level along the water and the access point is fairly easy. Best of all, this segment begins near the lovely Paradise Springs Winery, offering a relaxing stop at the end of your hike.
To reach the trailhead, follow the signs to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, driving down Yates Ford Road to the end. Hemlock Overlook Park is operated as an education center by Adventure Links (great programs for kids), but you can use the access trail without entering the Adventure Links property. Park in the public lot and follow the access trail down to the stream.
Once you reach the stream—aka Bull Run—you can head north or south, following the Bull Run – Occoquan trail along the water. We turned right, hiking north for about a mile, until we reached a stone crossing below the Norflok-Southern railroad tracks.
Instead of proceeding across the stream, we turned back then took the marked horse trail uphill to our left. Our return on the steeper Pope’s Head Trail took us through the Adventurelinks property in Hemlock Park (keep heading straight) to return to the parking lot. For a less steep option, return along the stream and back up the access trail to Yates Road.
There are some rocky sections along the river and it’s likely to be muddy after a rain, but our 2-mile loop hike was peaceful, shady, and populated with great blue herons and turkey vultures.
Paradise Springs Winery
Finished your hike and ready to relax? Lucky for you that your parking area is right across from one of our two favorite Fairfax County wineries. Paradise Springs Winery is beautiful inside and out, and it conveniently opens at 11:00 AM daily.
There are a lot of great seating options—out on the front patio or lawn, at picnic tables next to the vineyard, in the tasting room, or on the enclosed back porch.
The winery sometimes includes food pairings from local restaurants, and if you hike late on a Friday you can stay for the music. You can also enjoy music at Paradise Springs most Saturdays and Sundays.
A walk and wine outing is one perfect way to enjoy a fall day in Northern Virginia.