Explore the Unpaved Roads of Loudoun County

Loudoun County has more dirts roads than any county in Virginia and here are some of my favorite unpaved roads of Loudoun County. I have lived in Northern Virginia for over 20 years and particularly love finding scenic drives in 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.

Loudoun County development
Loudoun County development (was gorgeous open space farmland last year)

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

After buying a delicious chocolate croissant from Layered Cake, I began a recent day of exploring unpaved, gravel roads on Old Waterford Road, just north of downtown Leesburg.

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).

Old Waterford Road, Loudoun County Virginia
Old Waterford Road, Loudoun County Road trip
Old Waterford Road, Loudoun County Virginia
Old Waterford Road, Loudoun County Virginia
Waterford Virginia Quaker Cemetery
Waterford Virginia Quaker Cemetery, Virginia road trips

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.

Clover Hill Road, Waterford, Virginia
Clover Hill Road, Loudoun County unpaved road

Downey Mill Road skirts along Catoctin Creek before proceeding through some great farmland scenes.

stone steps along Downey Mill Road
stone steps along Downey Mill Road, scenic drive in Loudoun County
Tractor Mailbox, Loudoun County unpaved roads
tractor mailbox along Downey Mill Road, Loudoun County
farm along Downey Mill Road
farm along Downey Mill Road, Loudoun County scenic drive

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.

Georges Mill, Loudoun County unpaved roads
Georges Mill, Loudoun County attraction

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.

Loudoun County street sign
Loudoun County street sign

Heading south, most of the roads went through more lovely farmland in the foothills.

Axline Road, Loudoun County unpaved roads
Axline Road, unpaved roads of Loudoun County
Picnic Woods, Loudoun County unpaved roads
Picnic Woods Road, Loudoun County road trip
Ash George Road, Loudoun County unpaved roads
Ash George Road, Loudoun County road trip

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.

The Narrows, Loudoun County unpaved roads
The Narrows, Loudoun County scenic drive

Suggested Route to Explore Loudoun County Unpaved Roads

Loudoun County unpaved roads map
Loudoun County unpaved roads map

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?

Explore the Unpaved Roads of Loudoun County Virginia was first published on McCool Travel in April 28, 2015.

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22 thoughts on “Explore the Unpaved Roads of Loudoun County”

  1. You should explore Hughesville rd in Leesburg at Harmony Church Rd up to Trinity Church Rd (in Purcellville)–great view! Then turn around and go back to Lincoln Rd and head through the little Quaker Village of Lincoln (formerly Goose Creek) where there is an old Quaker cemetery to walk through, a house that was a General store, a post office, an old stone house that was the first Quaker Meeting House and the “newer” Goose Creek Meeting House whose bicentennial is coming up in a few months. Note Lincoln Rd is paved, but the village is adorable and rich with history. There is also a one room school house you can go in right next to the “newer” meeting house.

    Reply
  2. Hey! I just wanted to let you know that I just made this trip today and it was awesome! I found it best to do it at dusk – the sunset over the valley was incredible.. and stars were gorgeous. Not to mention, it was the first dirt road my Wrangler was on 😉

    Reply
  3. Charles, thank you very much for sharing your day, with pictures and detailed map. I found this page while looking for information about Loudoun and Fauquier Counties. I was wondering: are there any trails in this area, along those unpaved roads, that are outside of local parks? I come from Europe and I haven’t been able to find any wooded areas or just “wilderness” areas that are neither private lands nor “incorporated” parks (state parks, regional parks, county parks). I don’t know if I’m clear? I have been driving around northern Virginia on beautiful roads but I wish I could just ran into random trails, park my car on the side of the road and take a walk there. Maybe Loudoun County is too close to Washington and every piece of land there is private? Where I come from, if you go to the country side, far from cities, there’s always land that doesn’t belong to anyone, land that is public but without any day to day government mangement, that you can explore without paying a fee. I wish I could walk in nature without having to drive to a state or national park. Maybe I have to go further west or south, to West Virginia and southern Virginia?

    Reply
    • Sebastian, what a lovely thought, to just wander and explore natural areas. I believe every bit of land in the USA is claimed, even in southern Virginia and West Virginia. Best bets for no fees and relatively remote wilderness might be National and State Forests. An excellent unpaved road in Loudoun County is Appalachian Trail Road in Purcellville, which ends at a parking area from where you can walk past the Blackburn Trail Center onto an excellent portion of the Appalachian Trail. Happy exploring.

      Reply
      • In response to Sebastian… I live on Bald Hill Rd, know the area quite well, and have a suggestion for a super-cool walk. On your route out past Lovettesville, take the suggested side trip on George’s Mill Rd. (852) and follow it all the way to the road’s end. There is a small parking area. Follow the trail down to the Potomac River, you will enter a small portion of the Harper’s Ferry National Park–this sliver in Virginia is intended to protect the view from the town–so, yes, it’s public land. There’s a lime kiln ruin and several shells of stone houses right on the river. Search around and you can find a trail leading to the mountain top overlooking Harper’s Ferry. This is a beautiful, wild, old piece of the country that hardly anybody knows about.

      • That is one of the major benefits of the western US; lots of public land that you can wander through and explore.

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