Seneca Regional Park is one of my favorite hiking spots in Fairfax County. You will find folks riding horses, mountain biking or hiking through the park. There are multiple signs throughout the park teaching patrons about the history of the park. The remaining portion of George Washington’s Potowmack Canal is also part of the parks history and can be found on the signs in the park.
Seneca Regional Park is part of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. They have a great map of the trials including the Potomac Heritage Trail that runs along the Potomac River. The terrain ranges from small to medium hills with gravel and dirt trails. Parts of the trail along the Potomac can get muddy if it’s been raining. The Potomac Heritage Trail can be used to head to Algonkian Regional Park and Riverbend Park. On the day of the photos we had a few days of rain so the Potomac River inlets were pretty high. There are some great places along the river for the kids to see the river safely. Strollers would be a no go for this park but a backpack for the kids would be perfect. No restrooms at this park though.
Get out and enjoy a beautiful park just outside your doorstep!
The Turner Farm is located in Great Falls, VA in Fairfax County. The 52-acre park was formerly a dairy farm and the land was saved from development in 1994. The park is very unique with the old Dairy Barn on the property and an Observatory that is run by The Analemma Society. This non-profit organization has an agreement with the Park Authority to offer recreational astronomy programs. During clear Friday nights the Observatory Park is open during the evening to view the stars, check this website for hours and details. The other activity at the park that most people use Turner Farm for is the equestrian facilities. The park offers 40-acres of open fields for riding, a cross country course, a round pen, stadium jumps and dressage markers in the outdoor arena. The nature trails are also used by avid hikers including my family when we’re just looking for a nice walk.
In addition to the equestrian facilities and Observatory, there is a small playground area with a small piece of play equipment. The equipment is located near the trailhead at the back of the parking lot. There is no shade near or over the equipment but there is a brand new gazebo picnic shelter to get out of the sun. There are porta potties in the parking lot for everyone to use.
What’s nice about the park is that it was saved by people who love being in nature just as much as I do. Further plans for the park are jogging/walking trails and observation areas. The boys and I have yet to check out the Observatory on Friday nights but I’m hoping we get some free time next year to check it out. If you’ve ever wondered about the park and live in the Great Falls area you should check out The Turner Farm.
NOTE: Just a little friendly advice about the park, if you see horses in the parking lot please try to drive slow around them and if you can avoid driving by them it would help keep the horses from being spooked and hurting themselves. A lot of times they are tied to trailers getting ready to go riding or just cooling down after a ride.
Normally I don’t post parks that are part of schools but we hit up this park during the summer and the kids had a great time. Remember to use the playground during the week you’ll have to go after 3 p.m. School officials won’t allow you into the playground until after school hours. But during the weekend you’re free to play from dawn till dusk. The rest of the park is open to the public all days from dawn till dusk. The park includes tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts, and walking/hiking trails. A little historical tidbit behind the name of the park.
The playground area was very large with lots of different play equipment and plenty of swings. We were able to get out on the trail for a short distance before the boys decided to head back to the car. The portion of the trail we were on was paved but I know a portion of the trails are gravel or dirt.
We had a great time at the park playing on the equipment and walking the trails. The park is mostly a sports park but if you happen to be in the Great Falls area close to Sterling check it out.
One of my favorite parks is in Fairfax County, Great Falls National Park in Great Falls, VA! The Potomac River runs over the steep rocks creating the falls. The falls can be seen from both VA or MD side of the Potomac River. My family loves to go and check out the falls at one of three overlooks and hike the trails near the river. The park has lots of history and tablets are all over the park showing the vistors why the park remains an attraction.
If you like being outside close to nature this is the park for you. The park has over 15 miles of trail with 5 of the miles of trail that can be used for horseback riding and bikes. If you head upstream the trail leads to the Riverbend Park trail system. The trails around the Visitor Center, picnic area and overlooks can accomodate strollers and wagons. The hiking trails near the river can be rocky and narrow so if you’re taking the little ones just make sure you keep them close.
In addition to the hiking trails, avid kayakers and rock climbers can use the park. There are a couple drop in areas for the kayakers and two areas for repelling over the river. If the outdoors is not where you like to be then check out the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has a small hands on area for the kids to check out what can be found in the park. The park also offers a Junior Ranger Program for children 5 years and up to learn about the park and earn badges. If you’re into history, the majority of the Visitor Center has many interactive exhibits showing the history of the area and conservation efforts to keep the park healthy.
My family and I enjoy taking all our out of town guests to this park for a picnic and hiking. There are restrooms in the Visitor Center and various places around the park. It’s a beautiful park year round and if you live in Northern Virginia you should check it out!
Riverbend Park in Great Falls, VA located in Fairfax County lies just above Great Falls National Park. In fact you can walk from Riverbend Park all the way to Great Falls National Park via the Potomac National Heritage Trail along the Potomac River. Unlike Great Falls where you pay a park fee Riverbend is a free regional park and open from dawn till dusk with gates closing promptly at 8:30 p.m. Riverbend Park is located off of Georgetown Pike in Great Falls, Virginia. You follow Riverbend Road through magnificent neighborhoods filled with custom Estate homes and single family homes on large wooded lots. Regional Park signs will navigate you towards the park.
The Nature Center is a neat place for the kids to see local wildlife like snakes, skinks and frogs. For the adults and older kids there is historical information about the people that once inhabited the area before the settlers took over. The Nature Center has a small snack bar, ice cream and gift shop. Outside the nature center they have an observation deck with Adirondack chairs and tables to sit and watch the river. Public restrooms and water fountains are available just outside the nature center. A small frog pond is located below the nature center and at this time of year it allows visitors to check out the newly hatched tadpoles that will eventually turned into frogs.
Once you have finished exploring the nature center you can head out on the trails. Riverbend park has 2.5 miles of Potomac Heritage Trail along the Potomac River which if you head south will take you directly into Great Falls Park. The trails are great for walkers/joggers but strollers and bikes would have a hard time getting through. More trails are available through the upland forests and a few are challenging. If you enjoy geo-caching this park has plenty hidden for you to find. A picnic area is also available right next to the river and offers grills to cook out. This upper portion of the Potomac River is a good place to drop in a kayak or canoe and a launching area is available.
The kids and I love this park! The trails offer plenty of shade and we always see lots of wildlife on our walks. Walking along the river is a great way to get away and is a very convienent location to Northern Virginian residents.