Hemlock Overlook Regional Park
|Hemlock Overlook Regional Park|
Zip-line at Hemlock Overlook
|Location||Clifton, Fairfax County, Virginia, USA|
|Area||400 acres (161.87 ha)|
|Operated by||Adventure Links for Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority|
|Open||year round (rope course is closed in the winter)|
|Website||NVRPA Hemlock Overlook site|
Hemlock Overlook Regional Park is a small multi-use park near Clifton, Virginia which also doubles as an Outdoor Education Center operated by Adventure Links. The facility offers a popular rope course for schools and other groups, focusing on team development. The rest of the park offers hilly woodlands and floodplain scenery and is a good place for hiking, horse riding and canoeing on the Bull Run river.
Hemlock Overlook is one of several parks lining Bull Run. Like the others, it’s forested and full of hilly scenery. It covers only 400 acres and lacks such amenities as campgrounds and picnic areas. Hemlock Overlook is named after the grove of hemlock trees above the banks of the Bull Run in the northern section of the park.
At the northern edge of the park is the site of the Union Mills and the bridge crossing for the Orange and Alexandria Railroad over the Bull Run; both of these sites have high significance in the Battles of Bull Run. The site of a dam that supported the first hydroelectric power generation to Fairfax County is also on the Hemlock Overlook site.
A permanent orienteering course, built with the support of Quantico Orienteering Club, remains in the southern end of the park, below Yates Ford Road and Yates Ford Trail. The Bull Run-Occoquan Trail (blue trail) is maintained by the PATC. Both the Occoquan Watershed Coalition and the Hemlock Overlook Regional Park Task Force, HOTFORCE, are stakeholders working with the NVRPA to integrate the Park and its activities into the overall community setting in the area.
The 225-acre Outdoor Education Center occupies a small cluster of buildings near the park entrance. Those include four cabins with 96 beds, dining lodge and a bathhouse. The center offers team development courses, overnight retreats, summer camps, and corporate training workshops, that use a hands-on methodology to teach cooperation and communication through challenges which can be only solved as a team. One of the main attractions is their zip line. Its programs, are open to the public by reservation and serve 20,000-30,000 people a year.
From 1984 to 2009, Hemlock Overlook operated as university outdoor education campus, through a partnership between George Mason University and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. In 2009, GMU ended its relationship with NVRPA, and the Park Authority engaged a new partner, Adventure Links, to operate the facility. Hemlock operations over its history included the management of Bull Run Marina and a summer camp (Camp Mason, then Camp Hemlock) on the Hemlock Overlook site. Directors over the 25 years were: Mike Freed, Warren Doyle, and Susan Johnson.
- "Hemlock Overlook Regional Park". REI. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Hemlock Overlook Regional Park General Management Plan (Draft)" (PDF). 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- "Hemlock Overlook Regional Park". Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Gilbert, Paul (September 10, 2009). "Hemlock Overlook Swings Back into Operations". Retrieved 7 November 2013.
- Luxenberg, Larry (1994). Walking the Appalachian Trail. Stackpole Books. p. 123. ISBN 0811730956.