Hiker's Guide to the Trails of Fredericksburg, VA

Searching for some awesome hiking near Fredericksburg, VA? Look no further! I’ve put together a list of the best local trails, both within the city limits and nearby. From urban walks in lush settings to hikes that take you through historical settings, Fredericksburg has plenty of variety for outdoor lovers. 

Let’s take a look at some of the options for hikers in Virginia.

Beach Trail via Scout Trail

My first option for hiking around Fredericksburg, VA, is the Beach Trail via Scout Trail, a scenic out and back trail along the Rappahannock River.

This 6.3-mile path is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. It features plenty of options to change the trail to suit your needs; make it longer or shorter by taking one of the connecting trails. And if you’re looking for a little rest and relaxation, you can hop off the trail at various points to swim, grill, or just take in the scenery.

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Hours:

Sunrise to sunset

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Fees:

None

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Location:

Wicklow Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

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Contact:

540-372-1086

The River Trail

Its name may have already tipped you off to the River Trail’s main feature: hikers on this path follow the Potomac River along the tops of nearby cliffs on this out and back trail. With heights ranging from 25 to 75 feet, the River Trail also offers excellent views of the Potomac and Mather Gorge along its three-mile course.

It’s rated as moderate to difficult, and this path is just for hikers—no bikes or horses are allowed. Birding enthusiasts should check out the River Trail, as they may catch sight of vultures and great blue herons.

A word of caution to take care when hiking this trail. You have to do some rock scrambling (which is not recommended for children), so wear appropriate footwear and be careful.

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Hours:

7 AM to 30 minutes after sunset

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Fees:

$20 vehicle permit

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Location:

Great Falls Park, 9200 Old Dominion Dr., McLean, VA 22102

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Contact:

(703) 757-3101

Patowmack Canal Trail

You can find the Patowmack Canal Trail in Great Falls Park. This 1.25-mile (one way) out and back path features a wide and smooth trail suitable for all ages and ability levels.

There’s plenty to see on this historical hike, too. It follows what’s left of the Patowmack Canal, which was one of the first canals built in the US. It also goes through three overlooks and a picnic area, and hikers can enjoy views of the canal locks and parts of the Matildaville ruins.

Be aware that the trail can get rather muddy after it rains, so bring appropriate footwear if you plan to hike in these conditions.

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Hours:

Daylight hours

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Fees:

$20 vehicle permit

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Location:

Great Falls, Virginia 22066

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Contact:

(703) 757-3101

Heritage Trail and Canal Path Loop

Fredericksburg makes it easy to get your nature fix without leaving the city. The Heritage Trail features a 1.6-mile asphalt stretch that connects to Canal Path, a paved 1.8-mile wooded trail that connects Fall Hill Avenue and Princess Anne Street. This loop totals 3.2 miles, which makes it perfect for any runners who like the 5k distance.

Walkers and bikers can also enjoy this city walk, which offers pleasant views of the Rappahannock River and connects the Canal Path with Old Mill Park and downtown Fredericksburg.

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Hours:

All day

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Fees:

None

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Location:

trailhead starts at the intersection of Ford and Princess Anne Avenue

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Contact:

(540) 372-1086

North Lee Drive and South Lee Drive Loop

Looking to get away from it all … with a hike through one of the United State’s Civil War battlefields? If so, you won’t want to miss this one. The North Lee Drive section of the hike is 2.8-miles one way and meets up with South Lee Drive, which is 2.4 miles one way. The two parts combine for a pleasant out and back trail.

Locals head to this trail because it’s one of those tried and true favorite places to hike near Fredericksburg, VA. But trail runners can also hit their stride here, as the path has little elevation change, plenty of shade, and reasonable distances.

The North Lee Drive and South Lee Drive Loop are located in the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and it’s just one of the several hiking opportunities worth checking out in the park (for another, see number 8, the Fredericksburg Cemetery Loop).

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Hours:

Sunrise to sunset

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Fees:

Free

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Location:

National Military Park Virginia

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Contact:

(540) 693-3200

Alum Springs Park Loop

The Alum Springs Park Loop offers another in-town way to enjoy nature. This mile-long loop trail is the perfect place to bring the whole family. It’s a quiet forest oasis tucked away in the city, featuring a multi-use path that you can use to walk, hike, run, or have a nature excursion with the kids.

There are plenty of activities for the whole family, including horseshoe pits, play equipment, picnic shelters, and grills. The trail is stroller friendly and has plenty of shade, which makes it an ideal summer destination.

And rock climbers—if you’re looking for a local spot to boulder, don’t miss this trail. It has lots of cool rock formations, though you don’t have to be a rock climber to enjoy them. Overall, the beauty of this trail is how much of an escape it offers right in the city.

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Hours:

Sunrise to sunset

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Fees:

None

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Location:

Greenbrier Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22401

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Contact:

540-372-1086

Motts Run Reservoir Loop

I couldn’t leave Motts Run Reservoir Loop off this list of the best hiking near Fredericksburg, VA. This 4.6-mile loop trail, which is located in Motts Run Reservoir, passes through forest and alongside the area’s reservoir.

There are other hiking options in Motts Run Reservoir, which has 860 acres you can explore. If you want to enjoy nature without going too far, this hike is ideal. There are also plenty of opportunities for activities like fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. You can also bring your lunch and have a picnic/grill at one of the picnic tables.

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Hours:

Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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Fees:

none

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Location:

6600 River Rd, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

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Contact:

(540)-786-8989

Fredericksburg National Cemetery Loop

The Fredericksburg National Cemetery Loop is another hike for history buffs on our list. This quick 0.8-mile round trip historic trail hits some exciting spots.

You’ll pass through Sunken Road, head up to Marye’s Heights, and finish in Fredericksburg National Cemetery—the final resting place of more than 15,000 soldiers. Though history is this trail’s main attraction, you can also see wildlife here, which makes it popular with nature enthusiasts.

The Fredericksburg National Cemetery Loop is both stroller and wheelchair accessible.

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Hours:

Sunrise to sunset

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Fees:

Free

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Location:

National Military Park Virginia

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Contact:

(540) 693-3200

Virginia Central Railway Trail

As it currently exists, the Virginia Central Railway Trail features two disconnected segments. It’s a 3.9-mile out and back hike featuring a 10-foot wide asphalt and concrete trail.

However, there are big plans to expand the Virginia Central Railway Trail to one day include over thirty miles of trail between Washington DC and Richmond. Eventually, it will follow a former rail line (for which the trail receives its name) that will connect three Civil War battlefield sites.

In the meantime, you can find the trail near Meadows Park. It gives hikers a chance to enjoy a magnificent forest setting from inside the city. The VCT is the perfect place to stretch your legs without having to go too far, and it’s an ideal place to beat the summer heat while hiking, as there is plenty of tree coverage to keep you cool.

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Hours:

All day

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Fees:

None

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Location:

Trail end points at Essex St. and Lafayette Blvd (Fredericksburg) and Gordon Road (Chancellor)

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Contact:

(540) 372-1086

Salamander Loop Trail

Last up on my list of the best hiking trails near Fredericksburg, VA, I have the Salamander Loop Trail. This option is a point-to-point trail that’s about three miles long. It’s a wide, rocky path that climbs looping switchbacks, while still being easy enough for beginner hikers and kids.

The Salamander Loop Trail is one of several routes that lead to the Hawksbill Summit. It’s actually the least steep way to reach the summit, and there is a lot to see along the way. Birds, wildflowers, and wildlife are all present on this hike. And if you go in fall, you’ll be able to enjoy the vibrant colors, too.

I recommend bringing lots of bug repellent. Some hikers even mention that wearing a bug net in the hotter months would be helpful. Dogs are allowed on the trail on a leash.

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Hours:

Sunrise to sunset

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Fees:

None

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Location:

Ni River Trail, 8110 River Stone Dr, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

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Contact:

(540) 999-3500

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