Old Carolina Road Trail

Looking for an easily accessible hike in Loudoun County? The Old Carolina Road Trail at Roundabout Meadows is a half-mile public trail in Aldie, VA, offering pastoral views of the Bull Run Mountains at the gateway to Virginia’s rural Piedmont region.

Cemetery along the Old Carolina Road bed at Mt. Zion Historic Park. Credit Marco Sanchez/PEC


In 2021, PEC opened the trail in partnership with NOVA Parks, Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club, and the Mount Zion Cemetery of Aldie. The trail winds its way through properties owned by PEC and NOVA Parks and is part of over 335 acres of protected land between Gilberts Corner and the traffic circle at Watson Road and Rt. 50.

Originally a trail utilized by the Algonquin and Iroquois tribes and considered the most important north-south travelway in colonial Loudoun County, the Old Carolina Road stretched from Frederick, Maryland, with feeder roads joining from Pennsylvania, to the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. The road was favored because of numerous freshwater springs along its route, milder temperatures east of the mountains, and relatively safe fords across major rivers and streams. 

While much of the original roadbed became part of Rt. 15 in Loudoun County, south of Leesburg the highway deviated from the Old Carolina Road in favor of a more direct route to Gilberts Corner. A fragment of the original roadbed forms the property line between The Piedmont Environmental Council’s Roundabout Meadows property and NOVA Parks’ Mt. Zion Historic Park and is open to the public as the Old Carolina Road Trail.

Plan Your Visit

This beautiful walking corridor offers convenient public access to the scenic, historic, agricultural and natural resources of Gilberts Corner.

Trail length: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Surface: Unpaved, mostly grass
Route type: Out-and-back
Parking: Available near the trailhead at NOVA Park’s Mt. Zion Historic Park (40309 John Mosby Hwy, Aldie, VA 20105)
Hours: Open year-round, dawn to dusk

Dogs are welcome on the trail as long as they are leashed and all waste is bagged and removed from the site.

Additional Site Information

The parking area at NOVA Park’s Mt. Zion Historic Park1 gives visitors an up-close view of historic Mt. Zion Old School Baptist Church, which was built in 1851 and used as a Union field hospital during the Battle of Aldie in 1863. The trailhead and kiosk, located in front of the church cemetery wall, direct hikers to the top of the historic Old Carolina roadbed, a pre-colonial north-south route through Loudoun County and beyond. The trail leads visitors past a portion of the 1852 cemetery, where 14 Civil War soldiers are buried, and past the 60 largely unmarked graves of the African-American congregation’s cemetery. It then leads visitors into the seven-acre Roundabout Meadows Wetlands Preserve, a sensitive wetland site with a fantastic array of flora and fauna. And finally, the trail goes down to the edge of Howser’s Branch stream, where PEC has been working to restore water quality for the past seven years.

Interpretation of Roundabout Meadows and the Old Carolina Road Trail has been guided, in part, by a 2019 report by Michael Gaige and his team exploring the historical, geological and agricultural values the property offers. The report synthesizes the various attributes that make the property so unique and offers guidance for its future conservation.

The entrance to the trail is marked by a kiosk and extensive plantings of native trees and shrubs funded by the Fauquier Loudoun Garden Club, which has partnered with PEC to enhance the visitors recreational and educational experience. This includes funding research by Dr. Andrea Weeks of George Mason University, a botanist and Associate Professor and Director of the Ted R. Bradley Herbarium (George Mason University College of Science).

The data collected at the site provides a glimpse of the diversity of flora thriving at Roundabout Meadows, some of which are less commonly found, such as Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens). More detailed information is available at the Southeastern Region Network of Expertise and Collections (SERNEC).

The Old Carolina Road Trail is part of PEC’s ongoing effort with partners to make Gilberts Corner a hub for community engagement, with interpretive history tours, pasture field walks, environmental education, native habitat restoration, volunteer service at PEC’s Community Farm, and an opportunity for people to purchase locally grown food at PEC’s Gilberts Corner Farmers Market.

Learn more about properties owned by PEC