Seneca Regional Park in Great Falls, VA

Seneca Regional Park in Great Falls, VA

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.

Address: 101 Seneca Rd, Great Falls, VA 22066

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!

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Leesburg, VA!

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Leesburg, VA!

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park is a great spot to hike with the family. There is plenty of history throughout the park and tons of signs that can be read for information. Strollers would not make it in this area but a backpack for the little ones would work well. Every Saturday and Sunday from April 4 through November 29 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. a guided tour around the battlefield. The program is free and no advance registration is required. The tour focuses on the tragic Battle of Ball’s Bluff in 1861.

Here is a trail map of the park……CLICK HERE The Potomac Heritage Trail passes right through the park and continues in both directions along the Potomac River.

Address: Ball’s Bluff Road, Leesburg, VA 20176

-, -, W, R

Balls Bluff

The 170-acre park has no restrooms inside the park but during the tour season of April to November there are Porta Potties in the parking lot. The park is a trash in and trash out park with no trash receptacles. Also be careful as you are driving in and out as the road is narrow heading to and from the parking lot.

My family and I really enjoy hiking in this park. The boys like to head down the trail to the river and I like that there are several different trails to take that aren’t too difficult for the younger ones. The boys really enjoy reading all the informational and trail head signs.

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Balls Bluff

Ball’s Bluff is a hidden gem in Leesburg. If you’re looking for small trails to start the little ones on, this is a good place start. If you’re also looking for some local history this is a great place to hike.

Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, VA!

Occoquan Regional Park in Lorton, VA!

Occoquan Regional Park is a great park to visit.  This park offers over 400 acres and a few historical elements as well.  We will definitely be back to this park as our visit was cut short due to a rain storm.

9751 Ox Road, Lorton, VA 22079

-, -, W, R

LOGO

This park has so much to offer and is one of the few parks that serves as an entrance with multiple routes both regional and national.  Their are several trails such as the Occoquan Water Trail, Fairfax Cross-Country Trail and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Although we weren’t able to participate in the Roving Naturalist Program, this is a definite must do for our next visit.  This program offers guided nature walks, hikes, canoe and kayak tours and live animal programs.  Occoquan Regional park has athletic fields, batting cages, kayak rentals,boating and fishing .  We are looking forward to re-visiting this park and spending a day fishing.  You can fish largemouth bass, carp, crappie, catfish, striped bass and perch.  Fishing is allowed from the dock or shore line and of course by boat.  There is a boat launch (with boat fees).  There is a snack bar with a great view of the water (open seasonally).  Occoquan also has baseball, softball and soccer fields.  Here is a link to their field fees.

collage2

collage3

Turning Point Plaza, a memorial dedicated to the suffragists imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse, part of the Lorton Prison Complex was open in 2008.

collage

**There are a few rentals that can be made at Occoquan Regional Park. See below. **

Waterfront Trellis

Shelter Rentals

Gazebo Rentals

Rust Nature Sanctuary & Manor House in Leesburg, VA!

Rust Nature Sanctuary & Manor House in Leesburg, VA!

collage2

 802 Children’s Center Road, Leesburg, VA 20175

-, -, W, R

On Tuesday we were invited to a preview of the Fresh Air Kids Program at the Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg, VA. The Audubon Naturalist Society along with the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority partnered last year to maintain the grounds and support more programs for the visitors of the Rust Nature Sanctuary. The house and grounds were preserved from development in 1995 and donated to the Audubon Naturalist Society in 2000. In 2011 Audubon Naturalist Society considered closing Rust but 2013 agreed to partner with the NVRPA to remain open to the public. The Rust Manor House on the grounds can also be used for weddings and social events.

Susanne from the Audubon Naturalist Society was nice enough to give myself and my boys a preview of what the Fresh Air Kids Program is all about. We started off upstairs in the Rust Manor and met Ziggy the resident corn snake. The large wall of exhibits is full of items found in nature and in the sanctuary. Most of the items can be handled by the children to learn a little more about the animals and insects.

collage1

The boys were able to borrow binoculars when we headed out on the trail for our hike. But first we sat down outside on a blanket to read a book about how different animals move. We also met some earthworms and discussed their importance on the forest floor. Our hike took us to many different parts of the park including the meadow, the woods and the vernal pond. In the meadow we saw deer tracks, different bird species and several bird houses that were on the property. In the woods she talked about the different habitats of raccoon, rabbits and squirrels. Susanne also discussed with the kids how different animals camouflage themselves from predators. Down at the vernal pond Susanne was lucky enough to fish out a tadpole for the kids to see.

The Audubon Naturalist Society’s Fresh Air Kids spring program is a great way for the kids to get out in nature and learn a little bit more about what lives around us in Loudoun County. The kids will be outside almost the entire hour and half unless there is dangerous weather outside. Classes meet on Fridays from March 28th through May 9th. The kids are to bring a sack lunch to eat outside at the picnic benches too. To register you can call 703-669-0000 or email Susanne at susanne.ortmann@anshome.org.

The Audubon Naturalist Society also offers Summer Camp Programs at the Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg and Broadlands in Ashburn. For more information click here.

The ANS will  be offering a new revitalized program, Unplug and Play! Afterschool Programs. The program will combine science education and physical activity for students. In order for the program to succeed a minimum of 8 students is required. The class will be one day and run for eight weeks. Contact Christine Montagnese at 703-669-0000 and or email christine.montagnese@anshome.org.

Looking for a different options for children birthday parties, Rust Nature Sanctuary in Leesburg and the Broadlands Nature Center in Ashburn offers weekend parties year round. For more information on a nature theme party contact Christine Montagnese at 703-669-0000 and or email christine.montagnese@anshome.org.

The Rust Nature Sanctuary is a beautiful 68-acres to take your family hiking, nature programs, birthday parties, and summer camps. The Rust Manor House is a gorgeous venue for social events and weddings. If you live in the Leesburg area you should check out the Rust Nature Sanctuary and Manor Home.

Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling,VA!

Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling,VA!

Algonkian Regional Park is one of our favorite parks. In the past we have used the park for family reunions, Moms group play dates and just hanging out watching the many deer that live in  the park. The park sits right on the Potomac River and has a lot to offer everyone from the casual walker to the sports enthusiast.

Address: 47001 Fairway Drive Sterling, VA 20165

The park includes paved walking trails and dirt hiking trails. Our favorite hiking trail is the White Trail near the Volcano Island Waterpark. It travels in a U-shape and never gets near the water. This is perfect for the little ones to walk along as it is flat and there are several bridges going over the small wet areas. A stroller or wagon would have a hard time as sometimes a tree falls across the path. The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail also runs through the park and is denoted by the green squares on the trees.  If you’re into geocaching this is a perfect place to find a few of the hidden caches. If you want a more casual walk you can park at the Potomack Lakes Sportsplex and walk the paved trail through the golf course into the park.  A public golf course is also part of the park and open when the weather is nice. It’s not uncommon for the deer just to be hanging out around the fairways and tee boxes.

If you’re a water enthusiast, there are plenty of benches and picnic shelters along the river to watch the water. There is also a boat launching ramp for fishing boats, kayaks, jet skis and canoes. The park authority also offers storage space for RVs and watercraft for a fee.  If the river isn’t quite your pace, you should check out Volcano Island Waterpark. The waterpark offers zero entry areas for the little ones and larger waterslides for the older kids who can swim. You can also find the miniature golf course near the waterpark.

The park does have a small playground near one of the four picnic shelters. Indoor restrooms are located by the playground as well as porta potties near the boat launch area and soccer field. Picnic Shelters can be reserved for a fee. Each shelter has a grill and picnic tables.

We always have a fun time at this park and if you live in the Sterling Area you should check it out. The closest communities are Cascades, Lowes Island-Cascades, and Countryside.

Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA!

Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA!

Today we checked out Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA! This Northern Virginia Regional Park is gorgeous and has a lot for everyone. Pohick Bay Regional Park is located off the Potomac River south of Washington D.C. When you turn off of Route 1 you wouldn’t know that in about 3 miles you’re going to come across several parks and historical areas. If you travel past Pohick Bay Regional Park you come across  Mason Neck State Park which is located at the penisula of the Pohick Bay. Also along Gunston Road is Gunston Hall, the former home of George Mason.

Address: 6501 Pohick Bay Drive, Lorton, VA

Pohick Bay Regional Park is known for it’s canoe, kayak and boat rentals as well as the marina where the boats are launched. For a fee you can launch your boat into the bay. Boat rental facilities are on site and open on the weekends at the marina. Camp ground and picnic shelter rentals  are available through the Pohick Bay website. In addition to camping, the park also has a disc golf course, miniature golf, Pirate’s Cove Waterpark, playground, fishing, hiking trails, and plenty of picnic benches. Down by the marina you’ll find the awesome fenced-in playground. Indoor restrooms are located right next to the play equipment along with a ton of picnic tables and benches to eat a snack. The playground and picnic tables overlook the Pohick Bay but with a safe distance so you don’t have to fear the kids falling in the water when your back is turned. There is one large piece of newer play equipment and a small set of regular swings. The playground and picnic benches are completely covered by shade given off by the large older trees throughout the entire park.

We walked a few of trails before the kids got too tired and they were great if you like to hike. Strollers and wagons wouldn’t be able to do most of the hiking trails.  For fishing info click this link, http://www.nvrpa.org/park/pohick_bay/content/fishing.    If you’re into geocaching there are several in the park, check out the Geocaching Website for clues.

This was a beautiful park with plenty of activities for the whole family. I highly recommend everyone check out this natural park if they haven’t been already!

 

 

 

Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park in Leesburg, VA!

Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park in Leesburg, VA!
This weekend the family and I checked out Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park in Leesburg, VA. This 67-acre Loudoun County park has three different hiking trails, red, orange and white trails that lead to the Potomac River. The ruins that surround the parking lot were built by Charles Paxton in 1869 when he purchased 200 acres in Loudoun County. The farmhouse and ice house are the only structures still standing with the farmhouse being private property.
We took the orange trail then we met up with the white trail which led us to the Potomac River. I recommend taking the white trail if you have little ones. The white trail is wider and a little easier hike. The white trail is located at the back of the parking lot and clearly marked with white rectangles can be seen on the trees along the path. The only area that you wouldn’t be able to take the a stroller or wagon on the white is when you get to the Potomac. You have to scale some steep trail and some steps. Once you get down by the water the kids have plenty of area to walk around. The water table was pretty low when we were there so it might not be such a large area in the wetter months. There are no restrooms at the park and it’s a take your trash with you site.
If you’re into geocaching there are many caches hidden in the park. Like this one that the kids and I found on our walk.
This is great park to walk around as the trails aren’t that long for the kiddos. There are several picnic benches near the parking lot and trail heads if you want to pack a lunch or snack. It’s too bad that there are no restrooms or we would of have stayed longer. The park is off of Edwards Ferry Road and if you’re coming from the West it’s hard to see the park entrance. But if you’re coming from the East you can see the park sign clearly.

Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington, VA!

Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington, VA!

Upton Hill Regional Park in Arlington, VA straddles Fairfax and Arlington County.  The park is surrounded by great older single family homes that Arlington is known for and lots of local shopping. The park has a miniature golf course, Ocean Dunes Waterpark, bocce ball pit, batting cages, and playground. If you’re into walking/hiking the park has lots of trails that take you through naturally wooded areas. If you are into geo-caching there are lots of hidden caches in the park.

Address: 6060 Wilson Boulevard  Arlington, VA 22205

On our visit we walked some of the trails and hit up the playground. Where the play equipment is placed you can tell it use to be an old fountain and the kids had a blast walking up the stairs between the two different play areas. The playground is in pretty good shape and in plenty of shade. The park does have restrooms but not down below near the equipment. If you’re interested in the play equipment you can either park on Wilson Blvd or park above near the waterpark and walk down the trail.

This nice natural park is great to see amongst the busy area of Arlington and has lots to offer everyone!

Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, VA!

Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, VA!

A few weeks ago we checked out Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, VA! This Fairfax County park offers a lot of different activities for everyone including camping, hiking, equestrian trails, picnic shelters, waterpark, disc golf, and several playgrounds. Also towards the end of November through January 3rd the annual Bull Run Festival of Lights showcases a winter wonderland of lights from the comfort of your car.

Address: 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, VA 20121

Near the front of the park is a newer playground area with a large piece of equipment, both types of swings and indoor restrooms right next to the playground area. There isn’t much shade over the equipment but around the play area there is plenty of shade to stand in if the kids get hot.
Bull Run
Bull Run park has large fields where you can hold events and lots of different picnic pavilions and shelters. One large shelter we checked out was called “The Barn” and had a small playground nearby just outside the fence and across the small parking lot was a sand filled playground with clean lit restrooms nearby. The sand filled playground had a lot of older metal equipment and a swing set. There were benches near by with some shade.
Once we were done playing in the large sand playground we walked around on some the trails. There are miles of trail throughout the park with some being paved road and most be equestrian/hiking trails. If you like to camp the park had many spots for tent, RV or cabin camping. A newer large playground is located near the camp grounds and a favorite of my children.
Also part of the park is Atlantis Waterpark which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Near the waterpark you can find the Disc golf course which is open all year.
Near the entrance of the park, NVRPA constructed a Civil War Winter quarters and camp site for the public to see a little bit of history about the The First Battle of Manassas where Bull Run was crossed to engage in conflict.
Bull Run Regional Park is a great spot if you love to camp, host events or hike around. The older playground is supported by the newer equipment throughout the park. My kids and I saw lots of wildlife including turtles, geese and deer. Great park with lots to offer!

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park

Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park

The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is better known as the W&OD; Trail to most in Northern Virginia. Labeled as the “skinniest park in Virginia” it is one of the longest parks at 45 miles.

Most of the W&OD; Railroad Regional Park is sitting on the same site as the old railbed of the retired Washington & Old Domionion Railway. The 45 miles of trail are asphalt paved with crosswalks and or lights where the trail crosses major roads. Alongside 35 miles of the trail is gravel base path for equestrian riders. The trail takes you from Shirlington, VA in Arlington County and if you travel the entire 45 miles you end up in Purcellville, VA in Loudoun County. From Shirlington to Purcellville you pass through the cities and towns of Arlington, Ballston, Falls Church, Vienna, Reston, Herndon, Sterling, Ashburn, Leesburg, Paeonian Springs, and Hamilton, VA.

The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad closed it’s doors in 1968. The last large project the failing railroad company faced was the installation of Washington-Dulles International Airport. Many supplies were brought to the area via the railroad company. After the Washington-Dulles International Airport project was completed the railroad company closed it’s doors unable to compete with other railway companies in the region. Shortly thereafter the railbed property was sold to Virginia Department of Highways and then portions were sold to Virginia Electric and Power Company for the installment of electric transmission lines.

The first portion of the trial opened in 1974 in the City of Falls Church when Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority leased the rights from the power company. When the trail became popular they purchased this portion and other segments to continue the trail. The trail eventually reached Purcellville and was completed in 1988. Other small segments were then added with the last being paved in 2007. Small remnants of the railroad remain along the trail along with small exhibits/displays that talk about the history of the railroad company and trail. Companies like Norfolk Southern Railway and others have donated three cabooses that are displayed along the trail and two of them house small displays about the W & OD Railroad and Trail.

The W & OD Trail is great place to walk, jog, bike and or horseback ride. Many cyclist use this trail to ride to and from work since it crosses many towns and cities. Of course the trail is the safest in the day light hours but you pass through many scenic and natural areas so it’s wise to take precautions when using the trail alone.

Happy Trails to you!