Surrounding the national cemetery, this regional park preserves the site of the Battle of Ball's Bluff, the largest Civil War engagement to take place in Loudoun County. Hikers should be aware that this area goes from river bottomland to hardwood forests to rocky cliffs.
Ball's Bluff National Cemetery
Hiking, three-quarters-mile trail and a two-mile circuit hike
Historical information, interpretive signs
Note: There are no restrooms, water fountains or maps at the park.
This under-visited, 170-acre park is a gem, perfect for family walks and a bit of human-scale history. Nothing of momentous magnitude happened here. In 1861 some Northern scouts crossed the Potomac and were chased back by Confederate sentries. But the simple signage illuminates how this very typical Civil War scuffle played out and how it affected the lives of the soldiers -- particularly the half-dozen who are buried in a small cemetery in the midst of the park. The park's two-mile trail takes you up to the Confederate promontory and then down to the calm and beautiful river -- hard to imagine as the same wide, urbane expanse you see just 25 miles downstream below Great Falls.
-- by John Kelly and Craig Stoltz
Food: You'll find restaurants in Leesburg.
Nearby: White's Ferry, which permits delightful passage across the river either way.