Updated on May 9, 2023 by Julie McCool
It's always rewarding to find a short hike that offers soothing nature, a dramatic view, and a little history. Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park, a 67-acre park located on Edwards Ferry Road in Loudoun County, is a nice stop on your next visit to Leesburg.
Paxton Farm History at Red Rock Wilderness
Before your hike, take a closer look at the ruins of several buildings, built in the late 1800s, by wealthy gentleman farmer, Charles Paxton. The large Carriage House was used to store carriages and farm equipment and was in use until the 1930s.
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The nearby Well House was used to store water, and it's construction of poured concrete is very unusual for the time period. Look for the date, 1885, etched into the side of the building. Two kinds of grain could be stored in the two-chambered granary, before being transported to market over the Potomac at White's Ferry.
You'll see the final Paxton building on the way back from your hike, a preserved Ice House, nicely restored by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA).
The Historical Marker Database has more info on the buildings at Red Rock Wilderness Overlook and nearby historical markers.
Hiking Trails at Red Rock Wilderness
The primary trail at Red Rock is a 1.2 mile circuit that takes you through the woods, down to the Potomac, and along a bluff with great river views. You can shorten your hike by taking one of several return trails.
The White Trail begins just past the granary, and is mostly an easy dirt trail with a few steep spots and a stream crossing over a small bridge. Since the trail is through the woods, it is nicely shaded and makes a nice warm weather hike.
The trail spur down to the Potomac is quite steep but worth the effort.
The banks of the Potomac are heavily treed here, and you'll likely see lots of birds along with pretty water views. We spied a Pileated Woodpecker peeking out of a hole high up in one of the trees.
You can either walk along the river until you reach a steep climb to the bluff, or turn back, like we did, to rejoin the spur back to the white trail.
Continuing on, the white trail follows the bluff then turns back into the woods before making a short climb up to the Potomac overlook.
There's a nice bench at the overlook if you want to stop for a picnic or a rest. The view is beautiful and peaceful.
When you're ready, continue following the white trail along the edge of the property and back toward the park entrance. Stop to admire the Ice House, where ice harvested from the Potomac was stored for use by the farm. Imagine the challenge of hauling those chunks of ice from the banks of the river up the hills you just hiked.
There are two picnic tables, one by the Ice House and one by the Granary, so you could enjoy a picnic near the parking area.
Despite being very close to Leesburg center, Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park is a nice, quiet spot for a break from the busy malls and streets nearby.
Here are several more beautiful hikes along the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, many of which follow segments of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail:
- Potomac Hike: Bluebells and Sycamores at Riverbend Park
- Potomac Hike: Riverbend to Great Falls
- Great Falls Park River Trail Hike
- Turkey Run Park Hike Along the Potomac
- Seneca Tract and Potomac Heritage Trail
- Fairfax CCT Hike to the Potomac
- Explore the Surprises of Theodore Roosevelt Island
- Dyke Marsh and Mount Vernon Trail