A Historic Hike Around Hemlock Overlook
One of the things I love most about working at Adventure Links at Hemlock Overlooking Regional Park is that I count all 400 acres as my backyard. When I’m not working in the office or facilitating programs, I often take to the trails to explore this gorgeous property. I wanted to be able to share with you some of the special places off the beaten path that are worth exploring with your family.
Park at the end of Yates Ford Road and walk past the yellow gates and into the Adventure Links parking lot area. Once the road turns to gravel you will see a small walking path off to your right heading parallel to the road. Take that and it will lead you on today’s adventure and many more. Troops marched along this path during the Civil War to the battle of Manassas/Bull Run. On the right side of the path, you can see trees that have grown around the old fence line.
Take the steep paved road down towards the pond. Walk either to your right along the wood boardwalk or take a left for a quicker but sometimes flooded path. You will reach large steps heading all the way up until you reach the farmhouse that Adventure Links uses as its office. The farmhouse has been around since the early 1900s and the owners of it built the first hydroelectric dam in Fairfax county which is located on our property along the blue trail and Bull Run river.
Just to the left of the farmhouse, you will see two gravestone markers. One is dated back to the Revolutionary War and marks the resting spot of Aaron Wickliffe. The memorial marker on the left is for the Wickliffe and Kincheloe burial sites that were destroyed when the Federal army camped in that exact spot. The Kincheloes have been a prominent family in this area for many years. You would have driven down or across Kincheloe road on your way to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. The Kinchloes once owned all the land for miles around here. To this day the owner of Paradise Springs Winery is a Kincheloe.
Left of the gravestones you will see an ancient barn foundation from the late 1800s. Other foundations can be found in the area if you are up for further exploration.
Before heading back down the steps to the pond look to your right. You should see a break in the trees with a small trail. Follow that to one of my favorite spots on-site; Ye olde Beech tree. This has been a spiritual gathering place for many over the years. This beech tree is one of the oldest in this forest. It’s about 190 years old and based on the marks of decay won’t be around much longer. Look around you and imagine what this land would have looked like 150 years ago. Only this mighty beech and a few other trees stood. Everything else you see would be rolling hills used as pastureland.
Head back the way you entered. You will have seen just part of the beauty and history Hemlock Overlook has to offer.