Warren County’s Carson Trail | Old Dominion Wildlife

Warren County’s Carson Trail

April 29, 2016
Bench Along the Carson Trail Overlooking the Shenandoah River

Bench Along the Carson Trail Overlooking the Shenandoah River

Carson Trailhead at the Front Royal Country Club

Carson Trailhead at the Front Royal Country Club

There’s a fairly new trail in Warren County, Virginia named after William E. Carson. Warrencountyva.net explains:

The park was the inspiration of Mr. Carson, who was the first director of the Virginia Conservation and Development Commission, one of the key figures behind the Shenandoah National Park, and was instrumental in founding the state parks throughout Virginia…

Map of the Carson Trail

Map of the Carson Trail


The Carson Trail runs along the Shenandoah River through the Front Royal Country Club before climbing steeply up into the new Rockland Park where you have options to make a couple of loops. At right is a map of the trail I made using a Garmin watch.

I also measured a few running or cycling routes starting from the trailhead sign at the golf course. Note: If you start on the gravel boatramp road next to the parking area, you can add 0.2 mile to the distances (1/10th of a mile in each direction). Alternatively, you could also choose to start where the near loop passes by the Rockland Park Playground instead of at the parking area at the end of Country Club Road.

Carson Trail Near Loop (2.0 miles)

Carson Trail Near Loop Route

Carson Trail Near Loop Route

Carson Trail Far Loop (2.9 miles)

Utilizing the roads in Rockland Park, you can make a far loop.

Carson Trail Far Loop Route

Carson Trail Far Loop Route

Carson Trail Loops (3.2 miles)

This course runs around both of the above loops.

Carson Trail Loops Route

Carson Trail Loops Route

Directions to the William E. Carson Trail

  1. From I-66, take exit 6
  2. Turn onto Rte 340 North
  3. Turn right onto Country Club Road towards Riverton Commons Shopping Center (pass Roy Rodger’s, Aldi).
  4. Proceed straight through the traffic circle to continue beyond the shopping center.
  5. Follow Country Club Road around past the country club underneath the Norfolk Southern Railway trestle.
  6. There are some “No Parking” signs at the end of the road, but my unconfirmed interpretation is that the signs apply to the cul de sac and not to the parking lot beyond the cul de sac. A “Trail” sign points people to the beginning of the Carson Trail.

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4 Responses to Warren County’s Carson Trail

  1. Theresa
    March 9, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    There’s a trail that branches off to the left, before reaching Rockland Park. I walked it once and there were benches and information about different types of caves. Any idea what the name of that trail is? Or how long it is?

  2. March 15, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    I think that’s part of the Carson/Rockland park trails. I seem to remember seeing signs about karst terrain when I was doing the loops shown on the map.

  3. Belinda Palmer
    April 22, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    I walked it today, starting from the country club, but would like to start at the other end, at Rockland Park. Would you give directions to that starting point, please?

  4. April 26, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Sure, if you’re heading north from Front Royal on 340/522, turn right on Rockland Road. Just past the railroad crossing, turn right into Rockland Park/Fishnet Ministry. You’ll come to a t-intersection and turn right and park by the pavilions/playground. The newest part of the trail (not yet shown on my map) begins up there by the parking lot near the porta-potties.

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