Loudoun County has more dirts roads than any county in Virginia. Here is my guide to exploring some of the unpaved roads of Loudoun County.
Leesburg, the county seat of Loudoun County, is less than a 45 minute drive (with no traffic) from Washington, D.C.—making it an ideal day trip from the capitol city. While the wine tasting scene there is growing in popularity, my favorite activity is exploring the unpaved roads of Loudoun County.
Loudoun County has more unpaved roads than any county in Virginia (over 300 miles). Much of Loudoun County retains a pastoral, country charm in spite of it being one of the fastest growing counties in the country (#2 on Forbes 2013 list). I want to explore all of those unpaved roads of Loudoun County before they are paved and more farmland is developed.
Following are highlights, sights, and a recommended route based on several exploratory trips on the unpaved roads of northern Loudoun County, Virginia. I roughly define northern Loudoun County as above highway 7.
Explore the Unpaved Roads of Loudoun County
There are a half dozen side roads to explore, if you wish. All are dead ends returning to Old Waterford Road—except Hurley Lane, which escapes west to Clarkes Gap Road.
Along Old Waterford Road, I was happy to see a lot of open space but definitely recognized that there has been development since my last visit. After a quick stop at the Waterford Virginia Quaker Cemetery (Fairfax Friends Burial Ground), I drove through historic and picturesque Waterford (for more photos and information, please see my 2010 post Scenic and Historic Waterford).
After passing the historic Waterford Mill building, I turned onto Clover Hill Road. I was pleasantly surprised to see all open space farmland and no development along Clover Hill.
Downey Mill Road skirts along Catoctin Creek before proceeding through some great farmland scenes.
Taking a break from driving the unpaved roads of Loudoun County, I picked up lunch from Lovettsville Pizza and Subs. There are a few other options in Lovettsville but all were closed that day.
George’s Mill, Loudoun County, Virginia
After lunch, on the road again, I continued northwest and explored the George’s Mill area. This cute George’s Mill Artisan Cheese Farm was near the start. Visitors can buy a few farm items and products (like goat milk soap) on an honor system. To the right of the white building is a petting area with friendly goats.
This area of Loudoun County was settled in the 1720s. Many of the landmarks and roads are named for early settlers but I was particularly intrigued by this intersection.
Heading south, most of the roads went through more lovely farmland in the foothills.
My final photo demonstrates what I have experienced from years of exploring unpaved roads around the US. The larger the number, generally, the more rustic the road. Whenever I see a sign saying “End State Maintenance” with no continuing route number, that means super fun time. Usually, these roads are even more hilly, bumpy, dirty, or gravelly. Dangerous? Nah, at least not yet for me.
Suggested Route to Explore Loudoun County Unpaved Roads
Turn by turn directions:
- From Morven Park, Leesburg, drive north on Old Waterford Road (route 698)
- Just after the old Waterford Mill building, turn right onto Clover Hill Road (662).
- Turn left on Loyalty Road (665).
- [side trip] Turn right on Bald Hill Road (673), a wonderful gravel road. Turns into Newvalley Church Road which continues to highway 15.
- [side trip] Turn left on Featherbed Lane (673) and visit the single lane bridge over Catoctin Creek.
- Return to 665 and turn left. Turn left on Taylorstown Road (668) and then first left onto Downey Mill Road (663).
- Continue across Lovettsville Road onto Quarter Branch Road (still 663).
- Follow 663 left and then straight (now Wenner Road) across Berlin Turnpike onto Tollhouse Road (663).
- Turn left on Dutchmans Creek (674).
- Turn right on Irish Corner Road (673).
- [side trip] Explore Georges Mill Road (852) and Stevens Road (758).
- Turn left on Mountain Road (690).
- Make a right on Axline Road (680).
- Turn right on Picnic Woods Road (850).
- Turn left on Morrisonville Road (693) across Berlin Turnpike onto Ash George Road turns into John Wolford Road (694).
- Cross Milltown Road and drive The Narrows Road (694) to end. Turn around at the Catoctin Road and Bridge entrance.
[This marks the end of unpaved roads.]
- Make a left on Milltown Road (681).
- Turn right on Old Wheatland Road (698). Left on Charles Town Pike (9) and left on Harry Byrd Highway (7) back to Leesburg.
For more Loudoun County Virginia scenic drives, especially related to off road bicycling, visit Grinding Gravel.
Have you driven the unpaved roads of Loudoun County? Will you?