Though exploring the refuge is restricted to established nature trails, you’ll find that these winding forested corridors are rich in nature and history.
Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. Great Marsh Trail
The Joseph V. Gartlan Jr. Great Marsh Trail is a paved, ¾ mile long, fully accessible trail, that is located on Gunston Road, one mile east of High Point Road. This trail follows a forested ridge, and ends at an observation platform overlooking the 250 acre Great Marsh. Benches spaced at intervals provide quiet rest stops along the 20 minute walk. This trail affords the best opportunity to see bald eagles and wintering waterfowl, and is open to foot traffic and pets on leash up to 6 feet.
The trail is named in honor of Joseph V. Gartlan Jr., who served in the Virginia State Senate for 28 years, from 1972 until 2000. He earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues by being an outspoken protector of the environment, and champion for the rights of Virginians with mental and physical disabilities. Senator Gartlan lived on the Neck until his death in 2008.
The Woodmarsh Trail is a 3-mile circuit that begins at a marked parking lot off High Point Road, and winds through a mature, eastern deciduous forest. A large, covered platform with a telescope is located just over 1 mile from the parking lot, and provides a sweeping view of the central portions of the Great Marsh. This trail is composed of compacted soil and gravel. Some portions may become muddy after rains, and some sections have steep up and down segments. Comfortable walking shoes are sufficient for navigating this trail. The lower portion of the trail is divided into three loops, with the Fern Pass and Hickory Pass crossovers. A portable toilet is located off of the lower loop near Sycamore Road. The trail is open to foot traffic and pets on leash up to 6 feet. Portions of the Woodmarsh Trail may be closed from December 1 through the middle of June if eagles are nesting near the trail.
High Point Trail
The High Point Trail is a 3-mile, ADA compliant, paved trail, that leads hikers and bikers from Gunston Road, along High Point Road, through the, to the Mason Neck State Park visitor center. Access to the trail is available at the Woodmarsh Trail Parking lot on High Point Road, 0.6 miles off Gunston Road. This trail is open to hiking, biking and pets on leash up to 6 feet.