In Northern Virginia, we’re fortunate to have so many great parks with year-round trail access and educational programs. Layer up, lace up your hiking boots and bring the whole brood to join in on the fun.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 16, 2021.
Try to spy deer, wild turkeys, foxes, and more on the 11 miles of hiking trails in this Loudoun County park, a true respite from the surrounding industrial area. Besides hiking, the park offers a Discovery Room with live animal displays, and one of our favorite regional hidden gems, the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum.
A walk on the interpretive loop and easy boardwalk trail through the marshland will melt winter blues away. Spot nests of raptors, beaver dams, and resilient winter birds, like woodpeckers, living in the park. The live animal and natural exhibits in the visitors’ center are sure to be a hit with little ones.
For thousands of years, Native Americans lived on the land that is now Leesylvania State Park, and it was once the home of the famous Lee and Fairfax families. Stroll down the Potomac Trail and take in some water views or try the Lee’s Wood trail featuring a Civil War-era fort and home sites. Afterward, warm up in the visitor’s center and learn more about the park’s history.
Located on Belmont Bay and the Potomac River, Mason Neck is known for its picturesque waterfront and has many trails that vary in length and difficulty. Since the park is home to 50-60 bald eagles per year, it’s nearly guaranteed to spot one of these beauties. Other unique winter birding-watching opportunities include the tundra swan and the great blue heron.
Sky Meadows has 24 miles of hiking trails and access to the Appalachian trail, but the paths along the farmland and forest in the park’s historic area are the most family-friendly. Before heading out on an exploration, check out one of the Family Discovery Backpacks in the visitors’ center packed with field guides, maps, activity cards, and tools.
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