National Hiking Day is November 17, and NoVA is home to plenty of great parks and trail systems that make getting outside easy and fun. But you don’t have to take our word for it — to celebrate the occasion, we asked some of Northern Virginia’s parks and recreation officials to share what they love about NoVA’s parks and where they like to go hiking themselves.
What do you love about Northern Virginia’s parks?
“Having been away from Northern Virginia for three decades, it is nice to be home. I get outdoors as often as I can. There’s just something so special about the seasonal changes in the forest as I walk the floor below large shade trees, leaves crunching under my feet in fall, or spotting the flowering of understory dogwoods in spring. One of my most favorite days so far was in Dove’s Landing Park this spring, where I ran across a generous sea of bluebells hiking the orange trail near Broad Run.” — Janet Bartnik, deputy director of Prince William County Parks
“Coming from Florida, parks were so much different! I feel that there is much more to see and do in the NoVA parks I have visited so far. Much more wildlife, trees, and different elevations.” — Katie Bishop, marketing manager for Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities for the City of Alexandria
“How accessible and diverse they are — walking and biking trails; picnic areas; athletics; water features; rock climbing; kayaking/canoeing, etc. Something for every age group, interest, and physical capability.” — Jack Browand, deputy director of Park Services for the City of Alexandria
“The best part about parks in Fairfax County is the shear variety of experiences — we truly have something for everyone. From waterfront parks and nature centers to golf courses, rec centers and historic sites, our park guests really have thousands of activities and adventures from which to choose.” — Jai Cole, executive director of the Fairfax County Park Authority
Where is your favorite place to go hiking in NoVA and why?
“So far it has been Great Falls. The trail was easy/moderate to go through and the falls were so beautiful! It’s always nice to have a reward like that at the end of a hike or walk.” — Katie Bishop, marketing manager for Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities for the City of Alexandria
“Sky Meadows State Park — it’s close enough to get to but far enough away that you lose the city feel. The park offers various terrains from open meadows to moderate rock climbing and access to the Shenandoah Trail. If you visit early fall, pawpaws are ripe for the picking.” — Jack Browand, deputy director of Park Services for the City of Alexandria
“With more than 330 miles of trails at Fairfax County Parks across a variety of terrain and features, this is a tough one to really put my finger on. I grew up with Lake Fairfax as my backyard so I will always be partial to that park. While I know you asked me for one, I can’t not mention perennial fan favorites like Riverbend and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve, which both have some great natural vista payoffs.” — Jai Cole, executive director of the Fairfax County Park Authority
“Neabsco Regional Park — the diversity of plant and animal life that can be seen from the boardwalk, as well as the views of the sky, especially at sunset.” — Eugene Loew, assistant director of maintenance and operations of Prince William County Parks
Feature image, stock.adobe.com
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