Hemlock Overlook is not only a great spot for a hike, it’s conveniently located by Paradise Springs Winery, the closest winery to Washington DC. Wouldn’t you know they’re having their annual holiday sparkling wine tasting? Yep - Blancs de Blanc, Sparkling Viognier, 1991 Vintage Virginia Sparkling Cuvee, and a Sparkling Pineapple wine from Maui. Let’s go for a hike and sample a little bubbly afterwards!
The route: From the trailhead we’ll head south and west to pick up the blue-blazed Bull Run Occoquan Trail, turn right, and head north along the bank of Bull Run. After crossing Pope’s Head Creek on stepping stones, we’ll continue north along the stream bank with the Southern Railroad line on our right. After crossing under the railroad bridge, we’ll cross Johnny Moore Creek on another set of stepping stones before reaching our turnaround point at about 2.36 miles. From there we’ll turn back and retrace our steps to the trailhead.
The hike is an easy-to-moderate 4.72 miles of smiles, out-and-back, and should take about 2 hours to complete. The surface is dirt paths with some rocks and steps, interspersed hills and flat stretches, two stream crossings over stepping stones, and probably some mud here and there due to the recent rain.
A Google map of our route is here: http://tinyurl.com/nzzxpgg
How to get there:
• From the Beltway, take I-66 to Route 123, drive south on 123 to Clifton Road, turn right on Clifton Road and drive 3.7 miles, turn left on Yates Ford Road and follow it to the park entrance.
• From the Fairfax County Parkway, go west on Burke Lake Road. In one mile, Burke Lake Road becomes Clifton Road at Route 123. Continue straight ahead for 3.7 more miles, turn left on Yates Ford Road and follow it to the park entrance.
Click here for Google directions from your address to the park
What to bring: Water, and comfy shoes and your furry friend if desired (leashes please). A change of shoes and socks is a good idea if you're going to the wine tasting afterward, so we don't track mud into the place. A camera is a handy accessory.
Cost: None for the hike. Optional $16 per person per tasting. Please bring exact change in cash, payable to the organizer at the trailhead. In return you will get a ticket good for one tasting at our separate reserved private tasting. Still wines are available; please let the organizer know if you want to taste still wines instead of sparkling.
NB: I'll be phoning the winery at the start of the hike to ensure they have our tasting room set up when we arrive. The winery is projecting a busy day, so a reserved ticket is recommended.
Administrative stuff: As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted. If you're attending the wine tasting, please drive responsibly.
• Hemlock Overlook Regional Park: http://tinyurl.com/p678pkp
• PATC Bull Run trail maps: http://tinyurl.com/qzg39tf
• Paradise Springs Winery: http://tinyurl.com/246vfbd