K9 Trailblazers Dog Hiking Club 
October 13, 2001 Hike at Prince William Forest Park
Trip Report

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Saturday, October 13th offered gorgeous foliage and perfect weather for our first K9Trailblazers hike at Prince William Forest Park in Virginia. Fueled by chocolate and dog biscuits, eight people and four dogs, completed the 7 mile Pyrite mine circuit, and three people and one dog added a mile side trip to check out a viewing platform. We hiked at a 2 mile/hour pace, but stopped frequently for water, for food and to see points of interest along the way. Diva, a corgi who usually chooses the shorter option, did very well on her first "hardy hikers" trip, even leading the group part of the time.

In the 1950s, beavers were reintroduced to the area after years of trapping and hunting had eliminated them. We hiked to a location on the Mary Bird Branch where beavers are active, and Bob Laird led us on a short educational bushwhack. Bob explained how and why beavers choose a site and build a lodge, and once we knew what to look for we could see all sorts of signs of beaver activity. We followed gnawed and fallen trees, saw branches stripped of leaves and bark for food, and finally found the lodge. Keeping ourselves and our dogs very quiet, we were even privileged to see a beaver!  

The trails were little used, so we enjoyed the sense of being alone in the forest as we hiked along under trees that filtered and reflected the light around us into shades of green, golden and rose. We saw numerous sites where building foundations and other structures still survive long after the 19th Century miners and the 20th Century U.S. Army workers have left. Following Leave No Trace principles, we picked up candy wrappers and other waste. However, as we hiked along beautiful Quantico Creek we were careful not to pick up trash (although we continued to pick up all dog poop!) because Search & Rescue training was underway and the trainers were leaving "signs" that were not to be disturbed. As we made our way back to our cars, the group agreed that Prince William Forest Park is a destination definitely worth revisiting.

The Swinging Bridge Reflections of Fall Ground Pine (Lycopodium Obscurum) Signs of Fall
Taking a Break Max and Suzanne by the River Signs of Beaver Tiny Beaver Far Away
Dam Beaver Beaver Stream Studying Up on the Beavers Water Break
A Beatiful Day by the Stream Good Advice! On the Trail View From the Swinging Bridge