Petersburg National Battlefield | THE ANGLE LOOP HIKE

Five Forks Battlefield Angle Area Loop Hike Map (click to enlarge)

Five Forks Battlefield Angle Area Loop Hike Map (click to enlarge)


See the Five Forks Battlefield Trails web page to download a PDF trail map


Length:  3.5 miles
Time:  1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy with a few minor hills

A loop hike consisting of the Winthrop, Griffin, Steuart, and Crawford trails begins from The Angle parking lot on White Oak Road, which is Stop 2 on the Five Forks Battlefield Driving Tour at Petersburg National Battlefield. All of these trails are open to hikers and bikers. The Griffin, Steuart, and Crawford trails also allow horseback riders. When on the trails, if you see yellow blazes (paint splotches on the trees), this means horses are allowed. Red blazes mean hikers and bikers only.

Yellow blaze on a trail at Petersburg National Battlefield means horseback riders are allowed

Yellow blaze on a trail at Petersburg National Battlefield means horseback riders are allowed

The hike begins on the red-blazed Winthrop Trail, so if you are riding a horse, you’ll need to start a little farther west on White Oak Road at the horse trailer parking lot. Look for a dirt road with a TRAIL PARKING sign at the entrance. From here, you’ll be starting out on the Steuart Trail.

There are two trailheads for the Winthrop Trail, and neither is located at The Angle parking lot. Both are about 50 yards down the road, one to the east and one to the west. You practically have to stumble across the one to the west (take a right on the road), so keep an eye out for a gap in the trees.

Winthrop trailhead west of The Angle parking lot in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Winthrop trailhead west of The Angle parking lot in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

View towards The Angle parking lot from the west side trailhead for the Winthrop Trail, Petersburg National Battlefield

View towards The Angle parking lot from the west side trailhead for the Winthrop Trail, Petersburg National Battlefield

The trailhead to the east (left on the road) is easier to spot, as it has a chain across the entrance to keep out motorized vehicles. Regardless of the one you take, the two merge together in a tenth of a mile. For the record, I began my hike at the trailhead east of the parking lot.

Winthrop trailhead east of The Angle parking lot in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Winthrop trailhead east of The Angle parking lot in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

I did the hike in late July, which I advise against due to the excessive heat and the excessive amount of mosquitoes. I try to avoid applying insect repellant whenever possible, but this was not one of those cases. The mosquitoes were beyond what I could tolerate.

The Winthrop Trail, which is named for General Frederick Winthrop, the highest ranking officer to die at Five Forks, is a traditional hiking trail, not a wide dirt road as some of the other trails in the area. As mentioned, it is a red trail open to hikers and bikers only.

Typical terrain on the Winthrop Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Typical terrain on the Winthrop Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

In a tenth of a mile from the trailhead is the intersection where the two connector trails merge. If you are coming from the east side trailhead as I was, keep straight. If you are coming from the west side trailhead, take a right.

Trails within Petersburg National Battlefield have directional signage at most intersections

Trails within Petersburg National Battlefield have directional signage at most intersections

In .4 mile is the intersection of the Winthrop and the yellow-blazed Griffin Trail. If you turn left on the Griffin Trail, you will end up at White Oak Road (.1 mile) at another gated trailhead. There is no roadside parking here, thus no real reason to head that way. To continue on the loop hike, take a right and hike towards the Steuart Trail.

White Oak Road trailhead for the Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

White Oak Road trailhead for the Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The Griffin Trail is nothing but an old dirt road, which is why it is blocked off at White Oak Road. Aside from a couple of negligible hills, it is wide, flat, and easy to hike. While most of the trail is nothing but dirt, there are a few spots where tall grass has grown up between old tire tracks. Try to avoid the grass and stick to the tracks, for ticks like to hide in the grass. I didn’t pick up any ticks here, but I did get one on me when hiking another grass trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit.

Typical terrain of the Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Typical terrain of the Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Grassy section of the Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Grassy section of the Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The intersection with the Steuart Trail comes .4 mile from the Winthrop Trail turnoff. This is the start of the loop portion of the hike, so you can go in any direction. For the record, I took a right to remain on the Griffin Trail and hiked around in a counterclockwise manner. This trail review is written from that perspective.

The Griffin Trail remains a wide, dirt road all the way to the next point of interest, a side trail that leads to a lake.

Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Griffin Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The detour to the lake comes .4 mile from the Steuart Trail intersection (1.3 mile from the start of the hike). The lake trail is for hikers and bikers only. There is a hitching post at the trailhead for those on horseback. I have no idea if the lake has a name, but it was created by damming Hatcher’s Run. The surrounding land is now called the Hatcher’s Run Wildlife Area.

Detour from the Griffin Trail to a lake in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Detour from the Griffin Trail to a lake in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The hike to the lake is only a tenth of a mile, but it’s just a waste of time. The trail ends at a picnic table that most likely had a nice view many years ago, but not any longer. Trees and other brush have grown up, and you can now only get a glimpse of the lake between the leaves. There is a trail to the left of the picnic table, but it peters out after a hundred feet or so and does not lead to the water. The lake itself is completely covered with lily pads and will one day become a swamp before eventually filling in and making way for more forest.

End of the trail to the lake within the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

End of the trail to the lake within the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

View of the lily pad-covered lake in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

View of the lily pad-covered lake in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

There is a mailbox with a log book inside where you are supposed to write down what birds you saw, but it’s full of just about everything but wildlife sightings.

Wildlife log book at Hatcher's Run Lake in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Wildlife log book at Hatcher’s Run Lake in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Entry in the Hatcher's Run Lake wildlife log book, Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Entry in the Hatcher’s Run Lake wildlife log book, Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

When you return to the main trail from the lake—if you decided to make the trip—turn right at the intersection to begin the Crawford Trail. Again, directional signage points the way.

Intersection of the Griffin and Crawford trails in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Intersection of the Griffin and Crawford trails in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The Crawford Trail is more of a traditional hiking trail, not a wide road like the Griffin Trail. It immediately heads down into a ravine to a creek. This is one of the steepest sections of the trail and it’s barely beyond easy. Once at the bottom, the trail immediately climbs out of the ravine, and it’s uphill all the way to the Steuart Trail intersection a half mile away, though again, the climb is barely noticeable.

Typical terrain on the Crawford Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Typical terrain on the Crawford Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The Steuart Trail comes roughly two miles into the hike. If you continue straight at the intersection, you will cross over to the trails on the other side of Courthouse Road. Take a right to continue around the loop on the Steuart Trail. Like the Crawford Trail, it is a traditional hiking trail. It makes two dips up and down into ravines where it crosses creeks, and both are on par with the dip on the Crawford Trail.

Intersection of the Crawford and Steuart trails in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Intersection of the Crawford and Steuart trails in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Typical terrain of the Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Typical terrain of the Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Creek crossing on the Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Creek crossing on the Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

At the top of the second ravine is the intersection with the connector trail that leads to the horse trailer parking lot 150 feet away. If you need a restroom, there is a fancy outhouse, which is what I call a portable toilet in a permanent building.

Trail to the horse trailer parking lot on White Oak Road, Petersburg National Battlefield

Trail to the horse trailer parking lot on White Oak Road, Petersburg National Battlefield

Restroom and Steuart Trail starting point at the horse trailer parking lot on White Oak Road in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Restroom and Steuart Trail starting point at the horse trailer parking lot on White Oak Road in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Between the horse trailer parking lot turnoff and the Griffin Trail intersection just up ahead is a small hill that runs a short distance along the Steuart Trail. I’m not sure if this is a natural waist-high hill or a remnant of a Civil War-era trench because they both look the same.

Possible Civil War earthwork along the Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Possible Civil War earthwork along the Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

Steuart Trail in the Five Forks Battlefield unit of Petersburg National Battlefield

The turnoff for the Griffin Trail, which is where the loop portion of the hike began, comes .3 mile past the horse trailer parking lot. Take a right to get back to The Angle parking lot via the Winthrop Trail.

As with all trails within Petersburg National Battlefield, hikes around the Five Forks Battlefield unit are for exercise purposes only. The trails do not lead to any historical points of interest that you can’t get to by vehicle, and there’s nothing interesting to see unless you love the forest. What I can say for The Angle Loop Hike is that it is relatively easy. The terrain is mainly level and the trail surface is free of rocks and roots, so you can enjoy the hike without having to worry much about stepping on something and twisting an ankle.

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Last updated on March 24, 2023
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