Pyrite Mine Loop
ElevationAscent: 466' 142 m
Descent: -467' -142 m
High: 280' 85 m
Low: 55' 17 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)
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“Loop around on multiple trails from the Visitor's Center to explore the old pyrite mine site as it recovers naturally.”— Zander Göpfert
Blazing and signage are fairly straightforward but you can always pick up a trail map at the Visitor's Center or use the Trail Run Project mobile app for on-trail navigation without service.
As all trails in the park can be traveled in any direction, this loop can be done in reverse or adapted to accommodate groups of varying ages or abilities. There are also multiple parking areas that can be used to shift the start/endpoints.
The South Valley Trail winds parallel to the South Fork Quantico Creek with numerous opportunities to explore the flowing water. In the summer months, it's a great way to cool down. After 1.5 miles, turn right (north) onto the Turkey Run Ridge Trail to begin the ascent toward the Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground, which has a restroom. This section of trail follows parallel to the road, but it's never too busy to be a distraction. Be careful at the Scenic Drive crossing.
At the three-mile mark, the trail comes to its northern terminus at Turkey Run Road where there is a white-marked crosswalk. Turn right (north) toward the parking area and continue up the road past the Ranger Station on Old Blacktop Road where the Mary Bird Branch Trail starts on the right (east) side of the road.
After a quick dip in the trail, the Mary Bird Branch Trail will reach the high point of the run, right around the half-way mark. At the Scenic Drive crossing, turn left up the road until you see the Quantico Cascades Trail on the right, continuing east. This trail descends gradually toward Camp Four Lake and the Quantico Creek below it. Stay on the Quantico Cascades Trail to explore a few small waterfalls or use the North Valley Trail to bypass this section of the creek to start the journey south toward the pyrite mine site.
After five miles, you'll have your first opportunity to see some of the mine ruins on the right (west) side of the trail before passing the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine Trail and arriving to the boardwalk bridge, where you'll see more ruins. Follow the boardwalk toward the Pyrite Mine Road, continuing south to return to the Laurel Loop Trail, which connects back to the Pine Grove trailhead.
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Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: NPS - Prince William Forest Park