Siegen Forest – Locust Grove

This week we explored some new to us hiking trails in Siegen Forest in Locust Grove, VA. I’ve lived in this area for almost 18 years and just recently heard about these trails. Siegen Forest is a 170-acre forest behind the Fort Germanna Visitor Center.

We started off our adventure by visiting the Fort Germanna Visitor Center. It is adjacent to Germanna Community College’s main campus.

Address: 2062 Germanna Highway, Locust Grove, Virginia 22508

  • Open M-F, 10 am-4 pm/Sat., 1 – 4 pm/Closed Sundays
  • Small, paved parking lot.
  • There are restrooms in the visitor center. The restrooms do not have changing tables. They are only open during business hours.
  • There’s a small museum inside the visitor center. You can learn the story of the Colonial Frontier, of Fort Germanna, Lt. Governor Spotswood, and the first two settlements of Germans in Virginia.
  • There is also a small library in the visitor center. There are resources on local history and genealogies of the families of German settlers.
  • There’s a 25-foot spiral staircase with 39 steps. We climbed the staircase to the windows above. There’s nothing else up there. Well, maybe a few dead bugs.
  • You can pick up trail maps at the visitor center.

The Hitt Archaeology Center is also on the property. Here you can explore the German Settlements, life around Spotswood’s Enchanted Castle, and changes to the frontier leading up to the Civil War.

Before starting your hike, you’ll have to ring the bell in the Memorial Garden. The bell used to ring at a Roman Catholic church in California. In the Memorial Garden you can learn about Germanna descendants and the founders of the Germanna Foundation.

  • The trails are open 7-days/sunrise-sunset.
  • If you are visiting outside of business/visitor center hours, remove/replace the yellow chain across the access road.
  • There are no restroom facilities along the trails.
  • The trails are not wheelchair accessible or stroller friendly.
  • There is no general public boat access to the river.
  • Follow the “pack it in, pack it out” practice.

There are 4 hiking trails. With the recent storms, we found several downed tree branches blocking some of the trail paths.

  • River/Red Trail
    • 3.0 miles long
    • This is a one-way trail not a loop trail. If you complete the entire trail, it will be 3-miles in and 3-miles out–6 miles total.
    • Half-mile intervals are marked so you can decide how long you want your hike to be. If you want a two-mile hike, go to the 1.0 marker and turn around.
    • The trail begins at the Visitor Center.
    • Much of this trail is along the Rapidan River.
    • There is a picnic area at the river with a picnic table. There’s also a bench.
    • For a trail map, click HERE.
    • We were on this trail the end of March 2022. We saw several bluebells.
    • There are great rock views of the river if you hike up the hill.

  • Chimney & Witness Tree Trail
    • Short (0.5 mile) one-way trail
    • This path begins behind and to the right of the Cloister.
    • It’s hard to see the path to the witness tree.
    • This Tulip Poplar tree was probably here during the Civil War.
    • You will also see two stone chimneys. These chimneys are from the Urquhart family houses, ca. 1760.
    • The 10′ x 10′ concrete pad is where speakers addressed early members of the Germanna Foundation.
    • For a trail map, click HERE.
  • Hitt/Orange Urquhart Cemetery Trail
    • Short (0.58 mile) loop trail
    • At the cemetery you will see the gravestone of Dr. Charles Urquhart. He was the doctor who pronounced John Wilkes Booth dead on April 26, 1865.
    • This trail intersects with the River/Red Trail. You can continue on the River/Red Trail or head back to the visitor center.
    • For a trail map, click HERE.
The Red Trail starts here. This is also the way out for the Orange Trail
  • Blue/Bluff Trail
    • The trail is about 0.7 miles one way.
    • The trailhead is on county road 601/Flat Run Road.
    • There is no parking lot at this trail. You will have to use the parking lot of Flat Run Church.
    • The trail ends at a bluff overlooking the Rapidan River.
    • On this trail you can see the remains of the Locust Grove Airway Beacon. See the trail map for more information.
    • For a trail map, click HERE.

Our Experience:

We really didn’t know what to expect when we arrived at Siegen Forest. We stopped at the visitor center briefly before heading out to the trails. Ringing the bell was a must. We wanted to get a taste of the four trails. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the Blue/Bluff Trail. There’s no parking at this trailhead. The visitor center volunteer told us that we needed to make arrangements with the local church to use their parking lot. We decided to save the Blue/Bluff Trail for another day. (Update: You can park at the Flat Run Church parking lot without making prior arrangements.)

We headed to the Hitt/Orange Urquhart Cemetery Trail and then joined the River/Red Trail. We were not prepared for a 6-mile hike, so we ended up hiking 2 miles. We finished up with the Chimney and Witness Tree Trail. This was the shortest of the three hikes.

We can’t wait to head back and complete the River/Red Trail. We’d also like to do the Blue/Bluff Trail. These really are all great trails. We also were not able to visit the Hitt Archaeology Center.

We headed back a few days later and completed the River/Red Trail. At points it’s hard to follow the tree markings. Make sure to pay attention so you don’t get lost or walk in the wrong direction.

Tips:

  • Bring bug spray. Even though it was only March when we visited the forest, there were a lot of bugs.
  • Bring water and snacks. We only had water, so we weren’t prepared for a longer hike.
  • Watch the trail. There was a baby snake that crossed our path.
  • There are steep slopes along the riverbank. Be careful.

The Icebox Creamery is nearby. Make sure to check its hours before visiting, so you don’t make the same mistake we did. It was closed when we arrived. We didn’t realize they were on spring hours. Cool Zone Ice Cream is also nearby.

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