Last week I missed my Blog day totally. That was the first time I had missed since I started weekly blogs last winter. I was spending the week with 15 middle schoolers in a program we called Making it Better. On Day one of our adventure we were out to make ourselves better at the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy located in the northwest end of Prince William County.
The conservancy preserves 800 acres of the Bull Run Mountains. There are numerous trails to hike and more things to see. The conservancy offers day camps in the summer, classes during the school year and a whole host of other activities. You can find out more at www.brmconservancy.org.
We chose the Fern Hollow trail for the first part of our hike. This took us by the remains of the Beverly Mill. The mill is a three story stone structure that can be easily seen from I 66 just east of Thoroughfare Gap. The Mill was opened by the Chapman family in 1742 and operated up until the Civil War. During the Civil War the Confederates used the mill as a slaughterhouse and meat preservation facility. Prior to the Second Battle of Manassas the confederates burned the mill to prevent the meat from falling into the stomachs of the union. The Beverley Family rebuilt the mill 1876. Up until a fire in 1998 there was hope of restoring the mill. After the fire the building was stabilized and is now maintained as an historical ruin site.
Our next interesting point was a deer exclusion zone set up in the spring of 2012. The goal is to see what the forest would look like without deer. The deer eat much of the low new growth in a forest and greatly affect the natural development or do they? We can check back in a few years and see.
We shortly thereafter joined the Chestnut Ridge Trail which took us up to the overlook. The most interesting thing about the overlook is I realized we were standing on the white cliff outcropping that can be seen when you are eastbound on I 66 just east of the Plains.
Overall the hike up the mountain was 2.5 miles long and we were exhausted. The hike down the mountain was also 2.5 miles.