Every year, the patches of bluebells that arrive right around now are a sure sign that winter is over and spring has arrived. Mertensia virginica, also called the Virginia bluebell, Virginia cowslip, or Roanoke bells, is an ephemeral plant native to eastern North American that touts pink buds that blossom into bell-shaped sky-blue flowers. Bluebells blanket forest floors for a short time, releasing nectar that attracts bees and hummingbirds. Take your camera or your smartphone and head out to one of these parks whose trails and fields will give you a glimpse of Mother Nature’s artistry:
There are more than twenty-five varieties of wildflowers in bloom in this park in Centerville, and The Bluebell Trail, a one-and-a-half mile trail that explores the forest around Bull Run, is the best place to spot them. On April 17 and 18, the park is also hosting events tied to the blooming of the bluebells. Join roving naturalist and professional wildlife photographer Matt Felperin to learn how to capture these short-lived flowers in a photography workshop, or take a guided stroll on the trail and learn why bluebells bloom for such a short time. Check the website for dates, times, and fees. // 7700 Bull Run Dr., Centerville
This park in Great Falls that’s located along the Potomac River is a stunning place to see the bluebells, especially along the northbound trail. Visitors can also take the Potomac Heritage Trail from Riverbend straight into Great Falls Park, which is about two miles away. // 8700 Potomac Hill St., Great Falls
This 302-acre Wildlife Management Area in Nokesville boasts one of the largest patches of bluebells in the Northern Virginia Region. It has more than a mile of frontage along Cedar Run, a seven-acre island, and 100 acres of contiguous wetlands protected by 200 acres of hardwood forests and upland meadows. // 15014 Deepwood Ln., Nokesville
The historic park in Manassas that was the site of a number of Civil War battles has several trails on which to spot the bluebells; stop first at the Henry Hill Visitor Center to pick up a park brochure, map, and trail guides. The carpet of blue adjacent to the replica stone arch bridge makes for a perfect photo opportunity; the bridge leads to a boardwalk that traverses through a floodplain that’s full of the flowers. // 6511 Sudley Rd., Manassas
The views in this 1,600-acre park in Bentonville, located on more than five miles along the Shenandoah River, are worth the drive no matter the time of year. In springtime, however, the aptly-named Bluebell Trail, a flat, wide trail that’s great for any skill level, is awash with blooming flowers. You may also spot the fruit of the paw paw trees growing. // 350 Daughters of Star Dr., Bentonville
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