About the Trail
The River/Red trail of the Germanna Foundation’s Siegen Forest provides a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of history. Red Trail Guide (pdf)
As you will walk through the 179-acre forest, you pass the millrace used by the original settlers, Civil War earthworks, five different types of forests, and one of the best river recreation areas in Virginia.
The River/Red trail is about 3.0 miles long.
It runs along the Rapidan River in Orange County, Virginia through the Germanna Foundation, Siegen Forest.
The trail begins at the Germanna Foundation Visitor Center.
The eastern trailhead is on State route 601 (Flat Run Road) near Route 3 (Germanna Highway).
Note: there is no parking available at this trailhead.
This is a one-way trail—not a loop trail.
Half-mile intervals are marked so you can decide how long your hike will be.
If you want a two-mile walk, go to the 1.0 marker and turn around.
After a descent down to the river, the first half of the trail is relatively flat as it follows the river.
As you reach the river, there is a picnic area.
The latter half of the trail rises and falls over several 100-foot elevation changes.
Footbridges keep you dry from the tributaries of the Millrace and drainage from Germanna Community College parking.
In the spring, the path is carpeted by Virginia Bluebells and other spring flowers.
The first section of the trail starts at the Visitor center, down the hill, and between the millrace (up the hill on your left) and the river.
This is a bottomland hardwood forest.
Note the large trees of this part of the forest, many reaching out over the river or the millrace to soak in the sunlight needed for their growth.
This is the area Alexander Spotswood used for mills and river transportation for the Virginia Germanna Colonies starting in 1714.
The second section (mixed hardwood and conifer forest with Virginia Pines) turns north because very high, huge stone bluffs come right up to the river—blocking easy access to the riverbank.
Later you will be able to stand on these rock platforms to view the beautiful river vista.
There are several steep hills.
Part of the trail uses the Hiram Road off Route 3. (There is no public access to Hiram Road.)
The third section traverses the southeast portion of the forest.
This is a combination of Virginia Pines and Chestnut Oak and Pine trees.
Trees are marked with interpretative signs that contain QR (Quick Reference) codes.
Scan these with an I-phone or Android with free software to show you the Virginia Department of Forestry web site for more complete information on the tree.
The heights above the river were ideal for Confederate troops to provide troop and artillery protection for the Germanna Crossing.
The Alfred Waud drawing in 1863 shows how it might have been.
Trail Rules & Safety Guidelines
Vehicles may park in marked parking spaces only. To help protect our trails and property, please remove/replace the yellow chain across our access road as you come and/or go after Visitor Center hours. Germanna Community College Security patrols our property, and visitors may be subject to video surveillance. There is no general public boat access to the river (members and organized groups may be granted boat access with advance written permission), and there are no restroom facilities along the trails. All visitors must adhere to “pack it in, pack it out” practices, and follow these additional rules and safety guidelines:
- Use of metal detectors or other sensing devices, digging or other ground disturbance, or removal or collection of artifacts, materials, plants, or relics is strictly prohibited. Please notify the Foundation if you see any evidence of such activities.
- Help protect our historical sites by staying on the trails. Do not walk on the Civil War earthworks or walk on or move rocks at any historical building sites.
- Do not drink water from streams or the river.
- Wear insect repellent and appropriate clothing and shoes. Beware of poison ivy, chiggers, ticks, and snakes. Foxes, bears and even a coyote have been reported in the Forest.
- Picnicking is allowed at the established area(s). No overnight camping and no fires are allowed, except for Scouts and other organized and supervised groups, and only with advance written permission from the Foundation. Pack out all your trash.
- Bicycles, motorized vehicles, and horses are not permitted on the trails. Dogs are allowed if leashed and all solid waste must be picked up and packed out.
- Although hunting inside the Foundation’s Siegen Forest is illegal, it is wise to exercise caution and wear bright colors when walking the trail during hunting season.
- Beware of trail hazards and uneven surfaces. Please notify the Foundation if you notice any areas of the trail requiring special maintenance or work. Wear sturdy shoes or boots.
- Road traces and animal trails crisscross the area. To stay on the hiking trail, follow the map carefully and look for the 2” x 6” colored blazes on the trees.
- Trail markings: a single blaze indicates you are on the path. The blazes are spaced so you should see the next one as you pass a blaze. A double blaze indicates the trail changes direction.