Last updated: November 16, 2021
Written by Renee Sklarew, Mathina Calliope and Nevin Martell
Burke Lake Park is one of the most popular Fairfax County parks for families (the carousel and miniature train see to that). There’s also plenty of hiking for families who want to experience nature together. Everyone can challenge themselves on the 4.7-mile loop trail around the lake—or check out the circuit training’s balance beam and log hop. Take breaks to watch the waterfowl frolicking from one of many shoreline benches. 7315 Ox Rd., Fairfax Station
There are a number of short trails at Prince William Forest Park (including some that can accommodate strollers), plus a park for post-hike playing. Start your hike at the Laurel Loop trailhead by the Pine Grove Picnic Area for a 1.4-mile jaunt over the river and through the woods. For a 1.8-mile extension, bear right onto the Birch Bluff Trail that connects back to Laurel Loop. 18170 Park Entrance Rd., Triangle
If you want to be a bit more ambitious, Lewis Springs Falls is one of the highest elevation falls at Shenandoah National Park, but don’t worry, there’s a sturdy guardrail. At the observation point, you can look down at the 81-foot falls spilling over the rock, then splashing out of sight. The easy-to-follow 3.3-mile loop is very doable, and the elevation changes are less than 1,000 feet. Milepost 51.2
Stroller-friendly and short enough that toddlers won’t get worn out, the hiking at Chessie’s Trail at Lee District Park is easy peasy lemon squeezy. Along the way, little ones can relax at the unique nest-seating area and play with the spinning rocks. Keep an eye out for statues of indigenous Chesapeake Bay-region creatures and the clever face sculpture embedded in the ground. After the walk, tykes can ride on the carousel or romp through the treehouse to extend their time outside. 6601 Telegraph Rd., Alexandria
If you have little ones that are obsessed with nature, Kane’s Creek Trail at Mason Neck State Park should be your next hiking stop. This trail takes hikers through the forest for a great view of all local wildlife and birds that live throughout the park, so make sure to bring along a pair of binoculars. The .87-mile trail has an easy rating on the difficulty scale, so it is perfect for hikers of all abilities and experience. The park also has over 3 miles of other paved trails that take hikers past the bay, creek, and through the woods. At the moment, face coverings are required in all park facilities and where social distancing is not possible. 7301 High Point Rd., Lorton
This post originally appeared in our April 2020 print issue. For more great hiking and biking trails, subscribe to our Parks & Rec newsletter.