Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia. Located just over an hour outside of the city, the area is a perfect place to relax and enjoy everything the park has to offer which includes camping, picnicking, fishing, interpretive nature trails, hiking and cooling off in the creek. This is a great place to make your starting point for a number of fun activities in the Fort Valley area. Here's all you need to know about this park.
Getting to Elizabeth Furnace is a breeze. You just head down 66 east and get off at Exit 6 in Front Royal, VA. You take a left onto Route 340 South and when you come to the long bridge in less than a mile you turn right at the light (across from 7-11) onto 55 west. In 5 miles you will come to Fort Valley Rd (678) making a left at the fish hatchery historic sign towards Elizabeth Furnace. The Day Use Area is about 4.5 miles from this turn on the left.
Elizabeth Furnace is a great place for a picnic. The park has lots of picnic tables all over the grounds as well as an open field to play games in and Passage Creek where you can wade and swim. This place is also very interesting because there are several interesting "secret" picnic tables as well as a few abandoned ones that are overgrown with trees.
The coolest part about this park is that there is a giant suspension swinging walking bridge that spans high above the creek over to an historic cabin. These are two different places where you can get a cool photo or two, and are worth checking out if you are in the area.
Oh, and there are no actual bathrooms. Just vault toilets (outhouses). They are actually very nice for an outhouse.
Beyond Secret: While this area is great for a day trip picnic, you can have a lot of fun in the area of you stay overnight at the campground.
Passage Creek Forest Interpretive Pig Iron Learning Trail:
Another part of this park is the Passage Creek Forest Trail also known at points in time as the Charcoal or Pig Iron trail. This very easy half mile walk takes you around the area with historical signs teaching you about the different aspects of Virginia's pig iron industry from the 1800's. This is also where you will see the ruins of the giant furnace used in the pig iron operation. Honestly, pig iron isn't very exciting, but it is a nice brisk walk through the forest.
Hiking & Other Activities
The Day Use Area is also the starting point for several different hikes including the popular Buzzard Rock hike. There are also other trail heads with parking lots within a mile drive for different hikes as well.
Also, within a mile of the site are two different swimming holes that are better than the one at the day area itself. There are also lots of places to fish along the creek. If you feel like it you can also go camping for the night as well right next door (or if you are camping you can walk right over and use this area). Other nearby activities include rock climbing and mountain biking.
So make this your day (or weekend) HQ and do everything there is to do in the area...