Occoquan Water Trail
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network

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Brief Description:

Natural, cultural and recreational resources abound along the 40 mile route of the Occoquan Water Trail on its journey to the Chesapeake Bay. From its beginnings on narrow, tree-lined Bull Run to the open waters and tidal estuaries of the Potomac River, the Occoquan Water Trail offers paddlers the chance to experience a broad range of paddling adventures, scenic vistas, and historic landscapes on its route.

This water trail meets the Potomac River Water Trail beyond the Mason Neck peninsula, accessing seven regional parks, a county, two state parks and two National Wildlife Refuges and nearby town of Occoquan on its way. It includes areas once visited by Captain John Smith and long occupied by Native Americans. Facilities, including boat rentals are available at several public parks.

A trail map and guide and eight orientation/interpretive signs on route provide a guide to the natural and human history of this region and portray their associations with local waterways over time.

Note: There is no portage around the Occoquan River Dam; prepare to access the trail above or below the dam. REMEMBER, safe use of the waterways is YOUR responsibility at all times! Obtain and review a water trail map and guide in advance to plan a safe trip.

Location / Directions: The Occoquan Water Trail is accessible from multiple points. In planning your trip, look for directions to the particular sites you will be visiting.
Mailing Address: Occoquan Water Trail
Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority Headquarters
5400 Ox Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
Visitor Phone: (703) 352-5900
Business Phone: (703) 359-4617
E-mail: info@nvrpa.org
Activities: The Occoquan Water Trail provides a range of boating opportunities along the route for human-powered craft, and for motor craft, on the southern segment. Boats are available to rent for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing at several park sites on the route. Bird and wildlife and wildflower observation is outstanding. Public parks along the route offer picnicking, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Historic sites of Gunston Hall and the town of Occoquan can be accessed indirectly from the trail. Swimming and gas powered motors are not permitted on the waters of the reservoir.

Boat Access Fishing Hiking Picnicking Canoeing / Kayaking

Operating Hours:

Access and hours of public launch sites vary; consult individual parks for current information as you plan your trip. The National Wildlife Refuges are NOT accessible by boat at any time.

Remember: safe use of the waterways at any time is your responsibility!

Fees: Many public launch sites have seasonal fees; check with managing agency for current information.
Visitor Facilities: Several public parks on the route currently provide public boat launches, parking, restrooms and other visitor amenities, during regular hours. Consult specific sites for current information.
Length: 40 miles / 64 kilometers
Accessibility: State and federal parks have ADA accessible facilities; other sites will vary.
Website: http://www.nvrpa.org/parks/occoquanwater/
Trail Map & Guide: A trail map and guide can be purchased online from Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority Headquarters The waterproof paddler's guide traces the scenic waterways of the Occoquan and Potomac rivers in Northern Virginia. The guide comes in two sections- the upper segment of the trail from Bull Run Regional Park to Lake Ridge Community Park and the lower segment from the Occoquan Regional Park to Pohick Bay Regional Park.
Safety Info: Remember: safe use of rivers and any designated trails, at any time, is your responsibility! Water trail maps are for informational and interpretive purposes only and are not meant for navigational purposes, nor do they take into account level of skills or ability required to navigate rivers. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, the National Park Service and/or the individual trail associations assume no responsibility or liability for any injury or loss resulting directly or indirectly from the use of water trails, maps or other printed or web-based materials. [View a list of water safety tips]
River Classification: Class I. Read more about the different levels of River Classifications.

Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network - Comments or Questions: Call: 1-800-YOUR-BAY