Written by Renee Sklarew, Mathina Calliope, and Nevin Martell
Editor’s note: This article was updated on November 16, 2021.
This 1.8-mile hike is short on distance, but long on wonder. Pick up a bird-watcher’s guide at the visitor center, then begin your easy hike on leisurely boardwalks suspended over freshwater lowlands, one of the rarest habitats left in Fairfax County. Huntley Meadows has more than 200 species of birds and the best viewing angles are from the observation tower. Check the event schedule, because naturalists often conduct bird-watching tours. 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria
It’s one of the largest open areas remaining in Northern Virginia and home to hundreds of species of birds and wildlife, plus 55 species of butterflies. Operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the easy, 3-mile gravel loop trail has interpretive signage to help guide your explorations. Watch the nature show from the Marumsco Creek photo blind or the observation platform overlooking Occoquan Bay. 13950 Dawson Beach Rd., Woodbridge
Over 100 species of birds call these isles home over the course of the year, including bald eagles, ospreys, and snowy egrets. There are two quick hikes, the 0.7-mile Kingman Island Trail and the 0.5-mile Heritage Island Trail. Both have great river views and offer multiple opportunities for avian sightings. For the best results, bring along a pair of binoculars–and a camera with a telephoto lens if you want proof you spotted a bald eagle. 575 Oklahoma Ave. NE, Washington, DC