A new state park is open and ready to explore in Loudoun County. Gov. Glenn Youngkin earlier this month officially dedicated Sweet Run State Park, an 884-acre piece of land in Hillsboro, as the 42nd state park in Virginia.
“Sweet Run State Park will be the first state park in Loudoun County and will preserve this valley’s steeped agricultural, natural, and cultural history,” Youngkin said, in a news release.
“Expanding our stellar Virginia State Parks system, this new park demonstrates our continued commitment to invest in Virginia’s future and ensure that it’s the best state to live, work — and get outdoors and play.”
The park had a soft opening in May. Officials turned out for its dedication as a state park on October 6.
Sweet Run sits in the valley of northern Loudoun County between Blue Ridge and Short Hill mountains, known as “Between the Hills.” Visitors can expect to see stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the park, as well as forest, meadows, and mountainside terrain inside the park.
The park features 11 miles of hiking trails and 9 miles of equestrian trails. It connects to the Appalachian Trail. There are two streams, Sweet Run and Piney Run, that run through the area.
For recreation, there is a picnic pavilion and a “nature play area” for children. Hike-in fishing can be done at Gordon Pond, which holds species like sunfish, largemouth bass, and crappie.
Throughout the area, visitors will spot remnants of stone walls and historic structures, left behind by a farming community that resided on the land in the 19th century. A restored farmhouse, built in the 1840s, sits on the property.
The land previously belonged to the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation. The foundation donated the first 604 acres in 2016. Loudoun County later purchased an additional 280-acre piece of land for $2.9 million in 2018 and transferred it to the state in 2022.
“Adding Sweet Run to Virginia’s State Park system helps to fulfill our mission to conserve the natural, scenic, historic and cultural resources of the Commonwealth and provide recreational and educational opportunities consistent with the good stewardship of these lands, waters and facilities that leaves them unimpaired for future generations,” said Melissa Baker, director of Virginia State Parks.
The park has a volunteer system with over 50 volunteers and plans to offer nature and history programs year-round.
Within the park is the Between the Hills Conservancy Group, formerly known as the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, which serves to support and advocate for the park. Loudoun County–based equestrian nonprofit U.S. Trail Ride will help maintain the trail system.
While the park is open to the public, it is still under development. Parking may be limited. There is currently no fee to enter the park. It will be closed from November 20 to 27 for managed deer hunts.
11661 Harpers Ferry Rd., Hillsboro
Feature image courtesy Virginia State Parks
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