Distance: 7 miles
Elevation gain: negligible
Date: November, 2015
Bathrooms: Flushing toilets at the visitor’s center
My kids are usually happy to hike, but if we want to get them on a long hike, there had better be a pretty good payoff at the end. The interesting and super spooky Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine in the Prince William Forest Park fits the bill. The trail to the mine is enjoyable for the adults as well. It is shaded and wide, and follows a river for most of the walk. There are also several interesting stream crossings and bridges.
The mine itself is a set of informative signs, and foundations of abandoned buildings. Maybe it was just because it was the day after Halloween, but we all freaked ourselves out imagining ghosts coming out of the mines. I told the kids maybe we should camp there and see what happens at night, but no one was game for it.
Notes: To get to the mines, follow the Laurel Loop Trail from the visitor’s center to the South Valley Trail. Turn left of the Pyrite Mine Road, and follow it to the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine Trail. To make it a loop you can follow the North Valley Trail back across the boardwalk back to the South Valley Trail. There is a $7 per car fee, but you can also use your National Parks Pass.