Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors. You can breathe in the fresh air, take in stunning views of NoVA’s rivers, lakes, and forests, and even catch glimpses of local flora and fauna.
But if you’re hiking with kids in tow, have trouble walking long distances, or are just looking for a quick stroll without a multi-mile commitment, long-distance hikes aren’t always feasible. For low-stress nature outings, check out these short hikes on five trails in NoVA. Each is under 1 mile.
Take a stroll through the forest at this peaceful state park. It’s a 0.8-mile loop on a hard-packed dust surface. Bring your binoculars. You might spot an American bald eagle soaring overhead. For even shorter walks, take the Marsh View Trail (quarter-mile long) or the Osprey Trail (300 yards). Mason Neck State Park: 7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, $10 per vehicle
This short trail is perfect for kids. It runs 2,160 feet (0.4 miles), and visitors will encounter fun sensory features like a sound garden, spinning rocks, a boardwalk, and a nest seating area. There are figures lining the trail that depict native animals. Franconia Family Recreation Area: 6601 Telegraph Rd., Franconia, free
Take an old mining road to explore the different types of habitats in Dyke Marsh. It’s a three-quarter-mile long trail with a combination of pea gravel and boardwalk. This park is one of the largest freshwater tidal wetlands in the area and is a popular spot for bird-watchers. Nearly 300 species of birds have been spotted there. Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve: George Washington Memorial Pkwy., Alexandria (follow directions from the Friends of Dyke Marsh to access the trail), free
This trail is a loop through the Meadowood Recreation Area, an 800-acre piece of land that’s home to many native animals, birds, and plants. The Turkey Meadow Loop is roughly 0.8 miles, starting at the Giles Run Trailhead. Expect to share the trail, as it’s also open to equestrians, though bikes are not allowed. Meadowood Recreation Area: 10207 Old Colchester Rd., Lorton, free
History buffs will love this stroll through the historic park. The 0.9-mile loop guides walkers through the land where the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run began. It starts at the Matthews Hill parking lot, then goes uphill to where visitors can view a line of cannons, large portions of the battlefield, and a monument to Pvt. George Stovall. Manassas Battlefield Park: 6511 Sudley Rd., Manassas, free
Feature image, stock.adobe.com
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