Difficult Run Stream Valley Park in Mclean, VA

Difficult Run Stream Valley Park in Mclean, VA

Over the summer we went hiking in one of my favorite spots in Mclean, Difficult Run Stream Valley Park. Along Georgetown Pike not far from Great Falls National Park you’ll find a small parking lot. This parking lot is used for the Difficult Run Stream Valley Park. The Difficult Run Trail is part of the Cross County Trail and the last section that leads across Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax.

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8801 Georgetown Pike, Mclean, VA 22102

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The trail heads along Difficult Run and has plenty of smaller trails that you walk along. The main Difficult Run Trail runs along the water way and is a large trail that would be rough with a jogging stroller so a backpack or little legs are the best way to get along. The views depending on the water level are very pretty. The day we went the water level was low and you could see lots of rocks.

Difficult Run

Difficult Run

Difficult Run

 The day we went we walked along the Difficult Run Trail which leads you under Georgetown Pike and into the Great Falls Park if you take the right trails. We headed along the Ridge Trail to the Old Carriage Trail. The best part of all this hiking is the signage and maps along the way. On the Ridge Trail you can find Equestrian turn outs where you can pen up your horses for a break. While we were hiking we passed several park rangers on bike and foot. If you are a geocacher there were plenty of caches to find along the way.

Difficult Run

Difficult Run

 This hiking spot is great for a casual stroll and or a rigorous workout. There were plenty of folks running and biking through the trails. Check it out when the weather is nice!

C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA!

C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA!

C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA is so big we had to visit the park a couple times before we did everything. My boys loved this park because they could play on the equipment, hike around and fish all in one trip. The park sits nestled up against Germantown Lake, the 109-acre lake is an old flooded quarry from times past when German settlers arrived in the area.

Address: 10066 Rogues Road Midland, VA 22728 

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******ALL RENTAL INFO FOR PAVILIONS OR BOATS PLEASE CLICK HERE******

The park has so much you can do it’s hard to know where to start. When you pull into the parking lot you’ll notice two different paths on each side of the parking lot. Near the entrance to one path are picnic carts that you can use to take your items to the picnic pavilions, playground area, boat dock, boat rental, snack shack, horseshoe pits and sand volleyball court. Such a neat idea! This portion of the park has a pebble/old asphalt trail around the entire picnic area. At the entrance to the trail you’ll find a map that shows you where everything is located. At the snack shack you can rent a canoe, jonboat with or without motor, kayak, or paddle boat. Life preservers are available for rental as well but each rental comes with two vests. If you want to bring your own boat there is a launch ramp available. Remember anyone 16 years or older needs to have a fishing license. You can easily obtain one at www.dgif.virginia.gov/licenses/  and keep it on your person.

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The park has 4 picnic shelters, an amphitheater and tent available for rent. Around the picnic area you’ll find a ton of picnic tables with charcoal grills along the water or just in the large grassy area. Indoor restrooms are available in this portion of the park and were very clean when we were there. Nature trail paths can be reached from the pebble/old asphalt trail with signs pointing you in the right direction. The playground area has two sets of play equipment, both school-aged and preschool age. Both types of swings are available. There isn’t any shade over the play equipment but there are plenty of shelters you can use to get them out of the sun. When we were there they were repairing the smaller play equipment but all the equipment was in good shape. There were other peoples children on the equipment so pardon the picture from a far. I don’t like to infringe on other peoples children…:)

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The part of the park my kids loved was the lake of course. There are some good spots for the kids to fish and not fall in which in my case is a bonus with two boys under the age of 5….:) Near the entrance to the picnic area you would head down the path to the left to find the dock and snack shack. Here you can rent equipment for fishing, volleyball, horseshoes, croquet and or rent a boat with life preservers. For Hours of Operation please click here.

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On one of are other days at the park we decided head towards the dam side of the lake for some hiking . If you follow the path near the boat launching ramp you’ll pass the maintenance shed and ranger home. In this part of the park you’ll find the rope course which no longer has a provider or third party running the course. Porta Potties can be located near the edge of the trees for public use. We didn’t make it all the way around the lake but we still had a nice hike around and the kids got to see a few deer and lots of birds. There were also tons of caches in the park if you’re into geocaching. If you’re into orienteering you can obtain the maps and information for the beginner and advances courses at the office.

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In the front portion of this park you’ll find the Sanctuary: Commerative Grove. Here donated plants or trees can be planted to commemorate a person or special event amongst  a grove of native trees. For more information call (540) 788-4867.

Fauquier County really does have some beautiful parks. Even if you don’t live in the area I would pack a lunch and head out to C.M. Crockett Park in Midland, VA!

Shenandoah National Park in Luray, VA!

Shenandoah National Park in Luray, VA!

Shenandoah National Park is one of my favorite National Parks located in Virginia. My family and I head to Skyline Drive often to see the foliage and any animals that might be walking around. We’ve taken the boys on many hikes throughout the park but are waiting to camp with them until they get a little older.  The park has several activities for everyone from active to passive. When we frequent the park we hike one of the many trails throughout the park. But you can also horseback ride, bike, camp, backcountry camp, fish and observe wildlife

Address: 3655 E Highway 211, Luray, VA 22835

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The hiking in Shenandoah park includes 500 miles of trail with 100 of them being the Appalachian Trail. There are different skill levels of hiking trails available including the tougher Old Rag Mountain which I hiked about two years ago. This trail is not for young children or pets with its high drop offs and small waterfall crossings. In our last visit we headed out on the Elkwallow Trail which was just off the Elkwallow convenience store, restrooms and small parking lot. It was easy for the little guys and we even found a couple salamanders on our way.

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 The other activity we love to do in Shenandoah National Park is driving along Skyline Drive to check out the awesome views and assorted wildlife along the drive. We’ve been fortunate enough to see a bear, turkeys and of course of tons of deer. If you’re not into hiking or camping, a drive along Skyline Drive is also a great option to getting close to nature without being in the middle of it. In addition to the Drive there are a couple visitor centers along the way to visit, Dickey Ridge and Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center with exhibits and information desk. For food options, check out the several food stops along the Skyline Drive by clicking on this link.

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As you can tell my family and I just love Shenandoah National Park. If you’re going to make a day of it you can also check out Luray Caverns which is not that far from the National Park. Luray Caverns is another spot we love to head with the boys with it’s great stalactites and stalagmites. If you’re looking for a fun family outing or just a great hike with friends check out Shenandoah National Park in Luray, VA!

Kent Gardens Park in Mclean, VA!

Kent Gardens Park in Mclean, VA!

Kent Gardens Park in Mclean, VA is mostly a 26-acre natural park that has many different hiking trails. There is a small tot lot area but it’s mainly swings, balance beam and ride on toy.

Address: 6621 Byrnes Dr., McLean, VA 22101

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The address where the Fairfax County park site takes you is at the end of a cul-de-sac in a Mclean neighborhood. Just park your car at the entrance and head out on the dirt hiking trail. The small tot lot area is not far down the trail in the shade of trees.

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The playground area didn’t keep the kids occupied too long so we headed out on the trails and looked for a few geocaches while we were at the park. If you live in the neighborhood and like a nice flat nature walk with the kids this the park to check out!

Olney Park in Falls Church, VA!

Olney Park in Falls Church, VA!

Olney Park in Falls Church, VA is an 18-acre park with tennis courts, baseball fields, basketball court, reservable picnic pavilion, playground and a few small hiking trails. This was another park my hubby and the boys reviewed a couple weeks ago. My hubby wrote extensive notes about the park including that the boys really liked the park.

Address: 1840 Olney Road, Falls Church, VA 22043

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The playground area includes one large piece of play equipment in good shape and both types of swings. There isn’t much shade around the play area but indoor restrooms are available at the picnic pavilion. The picnic pavilion is quite large and you can reserve the pavilion for gatherings through the county. There are a few small hiking trails around the edges of the park and a few geocaches for you to find.

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Olney Park is mostly a sports park but it does have a nice playground area with restrooms! If you live in the Pimmit Hills area of Falls Church you should check out this park.

Rippon Landing Neighborhood Park in Woodbridge, VA!

Rippon Landing Neighborhood Park in Woodbridge, VA!

Rippon Landing Neighborhood Park in Woodbridge, VA is a natural park with hiking trails, picnic pavilion, tot lot, sand volleyball court, and horseshoe pits. The picnic pavilion use is a first come first serve basis, no reservations are available. In addition to the park, the Rippon Lodge Historic Site is located across the street. The Rippon Lodge Historic Site is open for tours and events. Check out the calendar and find out how you can tour and learn about the Historic home situated between the Neabsco Creek and Route 1. The road that the park and home are situated off of is named after the original owner, Richard Blackburn. Blackburn was a landowner in the 1700’s that grew tobacco, wheat and other crops.

Address: 15520 Blackburn Road, Woodbridge VA 

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To reach the park you need to park at the corner of Blackburn & Rippon Blvd in the gravel parking lot. The porta potty is located in the parking lot a small distance from the picnic pavilion & playground area. From the parking lot just head out onto the paved path. Here you can choose to head either down the gravel hiking trails towards the wetlands or continue onto to the playground area. The playground area has a large piece of newer play equipment & musical instruments that are part of the play set. A picnic pavilion is located right next to the playground area, sand volleyball court and horseshoe pits.

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We headed out on the trails but didn’t get as far as we could since it had just rained but the boys got to see the marshland and some wildlife. We saw a few snakes and lots of waterfowl. There are a few geocaches that you can find in the park if you’re into geocaching. If you live in the Woodbridge/Dumfries area of Prince William County you should check out Rippon Landing Neighborhood Park!

***PICNIC PAVILION RENTAL INFO*** EVEN THOUGH IT STATES ANY PARKS NOT LISTED ON PAGE ARE FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS PLEASE CHECK WITH THE COUNTY BECAUSE FOLKS CAN RESERVE THE PAVILION AT THE VETERAN COMMUNITY CENTER. Thank you to nice person who messaged us about this….:)

Prince William Forest National Park in Triangle, VA!

Prince William Forest National Park in Triangle, VA!

My family and I love to hike and this National Park has 37-miles of wooded trails to explore! We have never camped at the park since my in-laws live close by but there are plenty of campsites for all the different types of camping, tent and RV. Indoor Restrooms are available near campsites and certain picnic shelters. If roughing it is not your thing cabins are available to rent as well.

Address: 18100 Park Headquarters Rd, Triangle, VA 22172

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If hiking and camping aren’t your interest you can take the 12-mile Scenic Drive around the park to see the beautiful foliage and wildlife. If you’re into bike riding there is 21-miles of bike path with 3-miles of paved bike path for beginners and the younger crowd. For the history buffs you can visit the Visitor Center to learn more about the parks wildlife, conservation efforts and history behind why the park was conserved as natural space. Picnic Shelters are also available for rental through the park service. The picnic shelter near the Visitor Center has indoor restrooms nearby and a large playground area for the kiddos. The play equipment has a great wildlife theme and different pieces of climbing equipment you don’t normally see at most parks.

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As always beware of TICKS on the hiking trails as this is 15,000 acres of natural space with tons of wildlife. If you’re into geocaching this park is filled with caches just remember to mind the natural foliage around the caches. Just like any other National Park there is an admission fee per car. For more on the admission, camping and rental fees click here.

Roundtree Park in Falls Church, VA!

Roundtree Park in Falls Church, VA!

Roundtree Park is a 73-acre park located in Falls Church, VA. It has many different athletic fields and courts along with hiking trails and playground. There are tennis courts, basketball courts, multi-use field, baseball and softball fields. This park also had several different geo-caches that can be found.

Address: 3411 Casilear Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

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The playground area had some shade over the play area. Indoor restrooms are available by the tennis courts and picnic pavilion. There were no swings at this park but there are hiking trails. The hubby and the kids didn’t hike around since it was a little mushy from the rain. We’ll just have to head back to check out the trails next time we’re in West Falls Church.

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This was one of the parks my hubby reviewed for me and he felt the park was a nice play to take the family. It was also very popular as the play area and tennis courts were packed. Picnic Pavilions are available for rental through Fairfax County with restrooms attached to the larger pavilion. If you live in the West Falls Church area check out Roundtree Park!

Lillian Carey Park in Falls Church, VA!

Lillian Carey Park in Falls Church, VA!

Lillian Carey Park is a 13-acre park in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Falls Church, VA. To access the playground area you’ll need to park in the Baileys Community Center parking lot near the tennis courts. Access to the playground area can also be gained from a set of stairs from the condo  community, Steppes of Barcroft. The park includes 2 tennis courts, hiking trails, playground, and picnic shelter.

Address: 5921 Summers Lane, Falls Church, VA 22041

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The playground is in complete shade during the summer months. The one large piece of play equipment was in good shape as were the swings. Picnic tables, benches and picnic shelter are available to take a quick break or have a picnic lunch. Restrooms are available inside the Bailey’s Community Center.

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Lillian Carey Park also has some hiking trails. I was able to take the kiddos out onto them from the park area and I noticed locals used them to get up to the playground. The trails are truly natural trails and wouldn’t be able to handle a stroller. There were a few geocaches hidden in the wooded areas off the trails as well. If you live in the Bailey’s Crossroads area of Falls Church you should check out the Community Center and Lillian Carey Park.

Runnymeade Park in Herndon, VA!

Runnymeade Park in Herndon, VA!

Runnymeade Park in Herndon, VA is a 58-acre natural park in the Town of Herndon that follows along the Sugarland Run Stream. The park has hiking trails along the stream, a picnic pavilion and a porta potty. A Boy Scout project has many of the local fauna displayed with the names of the different plants and trees.

Address: 195 Herndon Parkway, Herndon, VA

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When we were here at the park it was just after the last snowfall. Certain areas along the trail can be mushy after a rain storm so beware. There is a short paved trail before it turns to gravel/dirt trail. If you’re looking for a little nature walk this is perfect local spot to check out.  Click here for the Trail Map.

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When we hit the trails we also did a little geocaching along the way. If you live in the Town of Herndon and enjoy a nature hike check out Runnymeade Park.