Walnut Creek Park Loop

  • Highlights: Lake views, wildlife, history, birdwatching
  • Distance: 7.9 mile linked loops
  • Elevation change: 541 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: 4250 Walnut Creek Park Road, North Garden, VA 
  • Website: Walnut Creek Park
  • Beer Pairings: James River Brewery—Tuber IPA & Hatton Ferry Pale Ale

The Hike:

Walnut Creek Park has much to offer. Boating, swimming, fishing, biking, disc golf, and hiking are some of the more popular activities. The hiking/biking trails encircle the 45-acre lake and provide some nice views along with some elevation changes. The trails were laid out by the Charlottesville Area Mountain Biking Club and switchbacks and banked curves add to the bikers fun but don’t detract from the hiking experience. Hikers have the right-of-way and the bikers we encountered were very courteous. Unfortunately, many of the trail junctions are not well marked. We suggest hikers take a photo of the trail map at the trailhead to help navigate the more confusing sections of the trail .

The trailhead for this hike begins at the end of the entrance road near the beach and shelter # 1. The blue-blazed Blue Wheel trail begins at the left side of the parking lot on a paved service road. The beach and lake are to the right. Almost immediately a sign will direct you to a left-turn to stay on the Blue Wheel trail. Follow the trail down a hillside away from the lake and then return to the lakeside. The trail crosses over an earthen dam and disc golf hole #18 will be on the right as the trail follows the southern part of the lake.

 The Blue Wheel trail consists of several loops. We suggest you keep turning right at trail junctions to cover the entire 2 mile length of this trail. This trail meanders away from the lake and passes by the ruins of an old cabin chimney and then runs alongside the south fork of the Hardware River. The trail ascends through the hillside and then runs beside Walnut Creek and then loops back to the starting point at the parking area.

Cross over the parking lot and locate the black-blazed Jungle Trail. We can’t explain the jungle name, but this section of the trail passes beside shelter #2 and connects with the lower parking lot. The trail runs along the lake and crosses a bridge. At the first junction, turn left on the green-blazed Luke’s Loop. This section of the trail passes beside the lake and connects with the red-blazed Wilkins Way trail which continues along the lake. The beach and swimming area will be across the lake and soon after take a right at the junction with the purple-blazed Colleen’s Corner trail. 

Colleen’s Corner is an easy .4 mile trail which winds through a section of the park affected by a forest fire in 2017. The trail connects with the yellow-blazed Chimney Trail at the ruins of a pioneer homesite where only a chimney remains. The trail begins a steep ascent through a series of switch backs and connects near the ruins of another cabin and chimney and then connects with the red-blazed Wilkins Way trail.

 Follow the red trail through a nice section of forest to an intersection with the brown-blazed Fifth Pillar trail. This trail is a loop and in several hundred yards you come to another junction. Turn left here to follow the brown-blazed trail clockwise. At the second junction, turn left on the green-blazed Luke’s Loop. At the 2nd junction turn left on the Jungle Trail and cross the bridge returning to the lower parking area. Retrace your steps on the Jungle Trail back to the lower parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

James River Brewery in nearby Scottsville is a great place to enjoy a beer after this hike. They have a nice beer garden out back by the creek with a live music. They also have some really good beer. We enjoyed Tuber IPA, brewed with Mosaic and Falconer hops. It has a nice bitter taste with a piney finish. Hatton Ferry American pale ale is brewed with Centennial, Cascade, and Mosaic hops. This APA has a hoppy bouquet that’s especially refreshing after a day on the trail.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.