Enjoy a scenic walk in the woods on one of two Wolf Trap Trail loop hikes at the national park in Vienna Virginia. Both of these hikes include a pretty stream, a small pond, and tree-filled hills. Wolf Trap Trail hikes deliver a welcome dose of nature in the midst of the busy Northern Virginia suburbs.
Wolf Trap National Park is the only national park dedicated to the performing arts. While the park is best known as a concert and theater venue, it is also a lovely place to hike, picnic, and enjoy special classes and events. The park is dog-friendly and leashed dogs are welcome on both trails.
Once home to Wolf Trap Farm, the land was gifted to the park service by Mrs. Catherine Filene Shouse in 1964. In 2002, the park name was officially changed from Wolf Trap Farm Park to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
There is ample, free parking at Wolf Trap Park so you'll have a few options for where to start your hike (see our suggestions in the hike details). Note that parking lots and access roads close 2 hours prior to showtime and during special events.
Discover more Top 10 Must-Visit Northern Virginia Attractions Near DC.
Overview of the Wolf Trap Hiking Trails
There are two well-marked hiking trails at Wolf Trap National Park:
- Wolf Trap Trail is a 2.5-mile loop around the perimeter of the park
- Wolf Trap Track Trail is a 1.5 loop developed by the Kids in Parks program
Both trails overlap for over a mile, so they cover a lot of the same territory. The trails are primarily dirt with short sections on sidewalks and paved paths. Dirt sections are studded with rocks and roots so they are not stroller or wheelchair accessible.
While the Wolf Trap Trail hikes are mostly easy, they include a few steep climbs that add a little challenge. We've identified one shorter route if you want to stick to more level terrain.
Visit the park website to download each of the Wolf Trap National Park trail maps. The trails at Wolf Trap are maintained by PATC (the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) and they are very well marked and easy to follow. These trails are good for beginners looking for a short but hilly hike.
The Wolf Trap Trail hikes are close to neighborhoods and roads, so you will hear noise from nearby roads and jets overhead. Fortunately, songbirds and the burble of the creek combine with nice scenery on these pretty trails.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is located at 1551 Trap Road in Vienna Virginia. The park is about 16 miles west of Washington DC and just 4 miles from Highway 495. To reach the park follow Route 267, the Dulles Toll Road, to the Wolf Trap exit. You can also enter the park from Beulah and Towlston Roads.
Wolf Trap Trail Loop Hike Details
Our preferred route for the Wolf Trap Trail hike begins at the large East Lot parking area on Trap Road. We like to hike the Wolf Trap loop trail in a clockwise direction, but you could reverse our route if you prefer. You can also join the trail from Parking Lot 4 or 1, behind the Filene Center. The Wolf Trap Trail is marked with blue blazes.
Enter the Wolf Trap Trail at the edge of the road just north of the parking lot. Walk down a few stairs to a marshy area where a short boardwalk keeps hikers above the mud. Soon the trail surface changes to dirt and you enter the woods.
The surroundings quickly become prettier as you move further from the road. On your right, a stream babbles over rocks and trees surround the trail.
Rocks and open areas offer places to sit and watch the stream go by. You'll also find benches sprinkled along the trail. In fact, a bench at the top of your first climb offers a romantic or pensive spot to sit and enjoy pretty views of the stream.
The trail leads to the small Wolf Trap Farm Pond and turns right. Mountain laurel bushes hug the narrow trail creating a tunnel of green as you walk around the edge of the pond. They should be beautiful when they bloom in early June. Watch for rows of turtles basking on branches in the pond.
At the far end of the pond, the blue-blazed Wolf Trap Trail merges with the orange-blazed Wolf Trap Track Trail. Stay left, hugging the pond, until you pass a second pretty bench with an excellent pond view. Soon after, the trail turns away from the pond, crosses a bridge over the creek, and turns left.
For the next half-mile, the trail climbs and descends a ridge as it skirts the perimeter of the Wolf Trap parkland. The woods are pretty, but you'll have glimpses of neighboring homes. Some of the hills are steep in this section, so hikers get a nice little workout.
At the top of one hill, you will see signs for the Theater in the Woods. A trail leads downhill to the theater, but our Wolf Trap Trail loop continues straight.
Eventually, the trail gets close to the Dulles Access Road that borders the southern side of the park. Here, the road noise gets louder and more constant. When you reach the bottom of the hill you will have a clear view of the wall that separates the park and highway (unfortunately, not a great noise buffer).
Turn right, following the blue and orange blazes, with the creek on your left. This section offers another pretty stretch of woods with continuous creek views. You can also see the Filene Center to your left. Cross a pretty bridge and turn left following the other side of the stream.
The final section of the hike gets noisier as you approach that giant highway wall. At the park boundary, the trail turns right and follows a narrow strip of woods between Wolf Trap's back parking lot and the wall.
Soon, the Blue Trail emerges from the woods next to a group of picnic tables. The Wolf Trap box office and Filene Center are on your right.
Now you have a choice to make—complete the full Wolf Trap Trail loop or take a more direct route back to your car. Unfortunately, the final section of the trail borders a parking lot and the wall, so it is not scenic or peaceful.
If you want to skip that last section, follow the sidewalk in front of the Filene Center and along the top of the hill then walk downhill to the parking area where you started. There are restroom facilities near the Ovations Restaurant and picnic area.
Final Wolf Trap Trail Section
The full 2.5-mile route passes under the park entry road and skirts the edge of the lower parking area back to your starting point. This adds another .8 miles to the hike. If you want to complete the full trail:
- walk downhill, staying on the sidewalk
- turn left and walk through the Trap Road underpass
- continue on the trail around the edge of the parking lot
Eventually, the trail reaches a few steps up to the road. Cross the road and you have returned to your starting point.
Wolf Trap Track Trail Hike Details
As noted above, most of the Wolf Trap Track Trail overlaps with the route we just described. The starting point is a little different, and we suggest a shorter option if you want to avoid the big hills. The official trail map lists this as a 1.5-mile hike but ours measured 2.3 miles following the same route.
Kids can complete activities on the hike and earn prizes using one of the Kids to Parks Track Adventures. The Wolf Trap Track Trail uses orange blazes and Kids in Parks markers.
The Wolf Trap Track Trail begins at a kiosk near the Meadow Pavilion. To reach the kiosk, park in Lot 3, at the top of Encore Hill near the Ovations Restaurant. Walk toward the restaurant and descend the hill on a paved path. The kiosk and trailhead are at the end of the path.
Enter the woods and cross the bridge over Wolf Trap Creek then turn left. The trail passes between the creek and the back of the Theater in the Woods. Soon you will cross a bridge over the stream and turn left.
In a short distance, the trail reaches Wolf Trap Farm Pond. This is a pretty spot to stop and look for turtles sunning themselves on branches in the water. The trail circles around the pond through a tunnel of mountain laurel then returns to the bridge.
TIP: If you want to stick to a short and easy hike, you can return the way you came. It is a pretty 1-mile hike from the parking lot to the kiosk and the loop around the pond. This is a great option for little legs or anyone who wants to skip the steep hills of the full loop.
To hike the full Wolf Trap Track Trail, cross the bridge and turn left climbing uphill. Now you will follow the same route we describe above. The orange-blazed trail follows the ridgeline then descends to the stream near the Dulles Toll Road highway wall.
Here you turn right and walk next to the stream until you reach a bridge and cross to the other side. You could turn right here and return to the kiosk for a shorter hike. Or you can turn left to complete the Wolf Trap Track Trail.
The trail follows the stream back to the highway wall then turns right. Kids (and adults) may be impressed by the scale of the wall which is next to you for this final stretch.
Emerge from the woods by a group of picnic tables. Now you can follow the Track Trail through Dimple Meadow or just stay on the sidewalk back to your car. There is a pretty picnic area near the Encore Hill parking area where you can relax after your hike.
The Wolf Trap Trails offer a surprising slice of nature in the midst of busy Northern Virginia. While we usually think of Wolf Trap as a concert venue, the national park is a year-round resource for residents and visitors.
Things to Do Near the Wolf Trap Trail Hike
Combine your Wolf Trap visit with these other Northern Virginia gems for a perfect day trip from Washington DC:
- Meadowlark Botanical Gardens has easy, paved walking trails through the gardens. See cherry blossoms in spring and beautiful blooms throughout the warm months. During the holiday season, visit at night to enjoy Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights.
- The quaint town of Vienna Virginia is full of delicious restaurants and an excellent craft brewery. See our article 8 Great Things to Do in Vienna Virginia for tips on where to eat and other fun places to visit.
- Neighboring Reston Virginia is another town well worth visiting. Head to Reston's historic Lake Anne Plaza, eat at one of Reston's tasty restaurants, or visit one of the other spots in our Locals Guide to 10 Best Things to Do in Reston Virginia.
- Nearby Tysons Virginia is best known for its shopping malls and corporate offices. But you'll also find excellent dining and cool urban parks in Tysons. Head to The Boro for dining, shopping, a luxury movie theater, and outdoor events. Or visit The Perch, an open plaza with a brewery and luxe hotel 11 stories up in the Capitol One Center.
Where to Stay Near Wolf Trap National Park
Planning to attend a show at Wolf Trap? Here are our recommended places to stay near Wolf Trap, including luxury, budget, and mid-level hotels plus an excellent campground.
- The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner offers luxury and convenience in Tysons Virginia.
- Hyatt Tysons Corner is a mid-level option adjacent to the popular Tysons Corner mall and a Washington DC metro stop.
- In Reston, the new Homewood Suites is just 7 miles west of Wolf Trap. The Hyatt Regency Reston is another great choice in Reston Town Center
- Lake Fairfax Park has one of the best campgrounds in Northern Virginia for tent and RV camping.
Find more great trails with our guides to more than 50 of the best hikes in and near Northern Virginia. Happy hiking!