Dog Friendly Fauquier - Whitney State Forest

6:59 AM

With three large dogs in the house this week (our two plus a friends we are watching) it was inevitable at some point they would all get bored walking the neighborhood and require something a little more strenuous and mentally stimulating.  When this happens with our pack of hooligans, and we don't have time to drive out to one of our favorite hiking spots, we pack up the dogs and head to Whitney State Forest.
Conveniently located just two miles south of Warrenton, Whitney State Forest is a nearly 150-acre state forest with about 7 miles of hiking and biking trails.  Horse riders also use it for some peaceful trail rides.  It's the perfect size for a quick nature hike no matter what time of day, or year, venture out.

As you can see from the map, there is a main service "road" leading from the parking lot through the forest that is partially covered in gravel, and several unpaved dirt trails that loop throughout the forest.  On this particular hike we started at the parking lot, zig-zagged along a few of the dirt trails that led to the Ashton house ruins, and then took the service road back to the parking lot.

Around the forest you will see signs highlighting the way the department of forestry is combating invasive plant species and trying to restore the forest to it's natural state.

On this particular day this was my crew...husband, daughter, and 3 hooligans.

Our 3 mile hike provided both human and canine with a lot of physical and mental stimulation, and the dogs in particular spent a lot of time investigating new smells.  Our Akita mix even found smells to roll in and required a bath when we got home.  But she was so happy.

The trails also provided us humans with some beautiful scenery to enjoy.

After following the dirt trails we came upon the ruins of mostly forgotten about Ashton house.  You can read the history regarding this house, and land you are walking on, on the Fauquier Trails website.

Unfortunately it has been defaced with a lot of grafitti over the years.  

Nearby is the 3-stall barn that was built around 1870.

As I said earlier, we enjoy this state forest no matter what time of year.  Fall is a beautiful time of year to enjoy the changing colors.

And winter provides a great way to romp around in some snow.

There are not a lot of rules regarding dogs, and they are not required to be leashed.  However, if you do allow your dog off-leash, please make sure you follow canine off-leash etiquette, and keep them within sight at all times.  Last year my husband had one hair-raising experience with two labs that were galavanting off-leash with no owners in sight.  They were rambunctious and did not greet our two dogs with the best of manners, and my husband was stuck getting our two leashed dogs under control along with the two off-leash labs.  He managed, and was able to call the number on one of the tags.  The owners were in the forest, but not concerned that their dogs were out harassing other people and dogs out on the trails.  

Don't be that dog owner.  Please.

So if you haven't already, I encourage you to head out to Whitney State Forest soon with your four-legged family members and enjoy a nice little adventure.

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