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!

Draper Drive Park in Fairfax, VA!

Draper Drive Park in Fairfax, VA!

A BIG Thank you to our Guest Reviewer, Allie Higgins, for reviewing Draper Drive Park in the City of Fairfax!

Allie Higgins is a mom of two young energetic boys who love to run and play.  Together, they enjoy hiking, biking, swimming and going to the many parks in the area.  Allie has been in the DC/NOVA area for over 10 years; she is writer/researcher and a graduate of Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame and Vanderbilt University.

Draper Drive Park in the City of Fairfax was, until recently, only soccer fields and walking trails; however, the city has now added a playground that is a fun addition to the park.
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The playground area is set up on part mulch and part rubber surfaces and includes swings and the main play structures even have shade canopies for the equipment. If your children like to get dizzy, there are several spinning pieces and if they prefer to climb, there are climbing walls as well. Slides and monkey bars make this playground complete. There are numerous park benches and two porta-potties adjacent to the playground.
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 The soccer field is synthetic turf with goals and bleachers along the fields. Additionally, there is a paved run/walk/bike trail that encircles the park. I especially liked that you can see the entire trail from the playground. While my younger son was swinging, I could still watch my older son ride his bike around the loop. Similarly, if you are at the park to watch a soccer match, you can see the all of the fields from the playground, so that makes it fun for all! This is a great park to check out if you are in the Fairfax area.

Potomac Crossing Park in Leesburg, VA!

Potomac Crossing Park in Leesburg, VA!

Potomac Crossing Park is the latest edition to Loudoun County. The park includes playground, picnic pavilion, and plenty of hiking trails. Located in the Potomac Crossing neighborhood it offers a nice sidewalks to walk to the park and a large parking lot for visitors.

Address: End of Shanks Evan Rd NE, Leesburg, VA

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The playground offers a nice array of different equipment for the kids to play on. A school-aged and pre-school aged equipment with are set up inside the mulch based play area. Also there is a neat slide that is set up at the top of small grassy hill that slides the kids back into the playground area. A modern day merry-go-round has the option of sitting and standing and was a hit with my kiddos. There is a large picnic pavilion available for rental and a porta potty near the parking lot.

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The best part of the park in my opinion is the access to the hiking trials. You can get on any of the trails and hit the Potomac Heritage Trail that travels up and down the Potomac River and also you can hike over to Balls Bluff Regional Park. Signage is available to point you in the right direction. The trails are all natural trails and not stroller friendly. If you have new little hikers a backpack carrier would be perfect. Most of the trail to a point is flat and would be fun for the walkers. As you get deeper into the park beware that as you get closer to the Potomac there is a straight drop off. Currently right now the trail along the bluff is covered in leaves and slick. We chose to skip this trail only because I didn’t have a second set of hands to make sure everyone stayed safe. This is only the trail closest to the river and there are plenty of other trails for the kids to enjoy.

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We did end up hiking over to Balls Bluff Regional Park since it was such a nice day and the trees were gorgeous. If you haven’t ventured to the new Potomac Crossing Park I would highly recommend coming and checking it out!

Tysons Woods Park in Vienna, VA!

Tysons Woods Park in Vienna, VA!

Tysons Woods Park in Vienna, VA is a nice park that has all sorts of different play equipment for all ages. There is also a few picnic tables in the wooded area to have a nice picnic lunch or snack. A short paved trail runs through the park to get to the other neighborhoods and also to the W&OD Trail. If you click on the google map address below you can see where the walking paths meet up with the W&OD Trail.

Address: 8425 Overlook St., Vienna, VA 22182

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The playground area has preschool-age equipment with toddler swings surrounded by a fence but no gate. Then there is a large piece of school-age equipment and a couple regular swings. There are a couple neat climbing apparatuses as well. Just down the path you’ll find lots of shade under the canopy of the trees and several picnic tables. There is plenty of shade around and over the play equipment but no restrooms at this park.

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This is a very neat park that has a lot of play equipment for all ages. The shade is an extra bonus as sometimes the Northern Virginia can get quite hot. If you live in Vienna and are looking for a new park, check out Tysons Woods Park!

Thaiss Memorial Park in Fairfax, VA!

Thaiss Memorial Park in Fairfax, VA!

Thaiss Memorial Park is a 10-acre park in the City of Fairfax. The park includes  Little League fields, picnic pavilion, and play equipment. The park is also a point where you can enter the Accotink Stream Valley Trail that is part of the larger Cross County Trail.

Address: 3401 Pickett Road, Fairfax, VA 22031

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Thaiss Memorial Park is mostly a sports park but it does have one piece of play equipment in good shape for the older crowd. A Porta Potty (May-Oct) is available during non sporting times and indoor restrooms are available when Little League games are going on. There is a picnic pavilion to get out of the shade. Check out this City of Fairfax Park!

Barcroft Park in Arlington, VA!

Barcroft Park in Arlington, VA!

Our Orthopedist was funny and mentioned Barcroft Park is her kids favorite park because the high rope climbing apparatus. The rope equipment at this park is pretty high but my oldest had a fun time pretending he was on American Ninja Warrior..:) But luckily there is not just the climbing tree to play on. This playground is near the Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center. The 65-acre park includes several sports fields including lit baseball/softball field, batting cage,tennis courts, handball court, drop-in rectangular field, volleball court, lighted basketball court, and horseshoe pit. You can even head down to the stream and try some fishing. Here is a map that kind of shows you where things are located in the park.

Address: 4200 S Four Mile Run Dr ArlingtonVA 22206 

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We only spent time at the one playground area by the parking garage but there are two other small playground areas next to the two different picnic pavilions. We’ll have to end up going back and checking them out on another day. The playground we did check out is located near all the sports fields and has indoor restrooms right next to the area. The area includes a large climbing apparatus that includes two different sizes for the kids to climb on. It was easy for me to get in there and help out when someone needed help coming down or going back up. So the little crowd doesn’t feel left out there is a preschool age slide and steps combo for them to climb on over a compressed rubber flooring. Besides the added bonus of  bathrooms being so close by there is plenty of shade over and around the equipment. Lots of benches, concrete wall and tables for everyone to sit at as well.

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We will definitely head back to this park at a later date to check out the picnic pavilions, other playground areas and fishing spot. My oldest is already begging to go back and climb on the rope trees…..:)

Long Branch Nature Center & Park in Arlington, VA!

Long Branch Nature Center & Park in Arlington, VA!

We love the Arlington County Nature Centers and Long Branch Nature Center is pretty awesome inside. They have a large classroom, live animal exhibits, indoor Koi Pond with turtles and Children’s Discovery Room. Outside they have nature and paved trails along the stream plus a viewing pond. Here is a map to that shows you the Nature Center compared to the parks around the area.

Address: 625 S Carlin Springs Rd ArlingtonVA 22204 

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The kids had a fun time walking around the Nature Center. They have a lot of live animal exhibits including an indoor Koi Pond and Discovery Room. The best part is that the indoor space is a nice getaway from the weather outside with clean restrooms. They are closed on Mondays but open from 10-5 Tue-Saturday and 1-5 on Sundays.

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After spending a good amount of time at the Nature Center we headed out on the trails. Before we hit the paved trail we came across a small kids area with a sandbox and stumps to climb on. Inside the sand box were plenty of sand toys to play with.  Small nature trails surround the Nature Center or you can head out on the Paved Trail that leads to Glencarlyn Park and access to the W&OD Trail. The Glencarlyn Dog Park can also be accessed from the trail system too.

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A neat feature at the beginning of the trail was the Trail Tales. A children’s book is broken up into different signs and by the end of the trail the kids and you have read a full book. My youngest was running up to every post begging me to read the Beetle book.

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As you can tell by the pictures the area is just beautiful and my pics don’t do it justice. Here is a map to show you where the parks connect and also where the streams meet up. If you’re looking for a nice nature hike, bike ride or just a leisurely stroller walk check out the area around Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington,VA!

Cub Run Stream Valley Park in Centreville, VA!

A follower of NoVA  Outdoors, Suzanne Leonard, wanted to put together her review on a favorite park and trail system. Thank you Suzanne! Cub Run Stream Valley Park in Centreville is mostly a trail park but does have one playground area in all of the 800-acres. Here is a map of the area.

Address: 5501 Sully Park Drive, Centreville, VA 20120 (Look for the trail between Kamputa and Deer Pond Rd)

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So, how do you get to this awesome trail? There is a very hidden, but great access point on Sully Park Drive in Centreville. The public can park for free along Sully Park Drive, which features marked parking lanes along the entirety of the right and left sides of the road. Once parked, look for the very inconspicuous and barely marked trail entry point on Sully Park Drive between Kamputa Drive and Deer Pond Road. The trail immediately dips down a sharp little hill and, after a very short walk bordering housing, you will see the playground and basketball court before entering the truly wooded trail. Keep going until you hit the cement cylinder bridge crossing the stream to start really experiencing the park’s natural wonders.

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So, why venture to this hidden gem? It’s not only large—offering more than 800 acres of preserved natural beauty—but it also offers miles (5 miles north trail and 2.5 miles on the south trail) of paved, family friendly biking/hiking trails and is home to the largest Bluebell flower organism on the East Coast.

The trails are great for running, bike riding, or just taking a leisurely stroll. The park boarder is lined with residential neighborhoods, but once you commit to walking deeper into the trail system, the winding trails are surrounded by forest on both sides. There are many nice sights to see along the trail, including a historic stone bridge and picturesque Cub Run Stream, which in some places you have to cross via “fair weather” stepping stones.

The park’s most attractive sight is only available in April each year when the enormous stand of bluebells blooms for one to three weeks. Heralding in the coming of Spring, at this time of year the trees still all have wintery bare branches making the acres-wide carpet of striking blue bells truly breath taking. It is a great time to bring the family for a bluebell picnic along the stream’s bank and to capture some truly amazing family photos.

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Stick to the Northern side of the park to take in the largest swaths of bluebells in addition to the largest stretches of deep woods trails. There is also a small playground on the Northern side of the park and a basketball court. The playground is great for really little guys, as it is not very high off the ground and has a wide ramp for them to explore.

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Cub Run Stream Valley Park in Centreville, VA is a very large green area in Fairfax County surrounded by many different neighborhoods including Virginia Run, Sully Station and London Towne West. If you live nearby or are just looking for a place to get out into nature, check out Cub Run Stream Valley Park in Centreville, VA.

Uplands Rec Area in Reston, VA!

Uplands Rec Area in Reston, VA!

Uplands Rec Area in Reston, VA is part of the Reston Association Community. The Rec Area includes tennis courts, pool with restrooms, basketball court, baseball field and small playground area. The tennis courts, pool and other athletic fields are for residents use only. The small playground is located up the path from the tennis courts. You can either park near the tennis courts or drive around the block and park closer to the small playground.

Address: Ring Road, Reston, VA 20190

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The small playground doesn’t have any shade around but it does have two park benches. The equipment was in good shape and had plenty of mulch around the equipment. Even though it’s a small playground area it would be a nice walk if you lived close by.

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A cute little playground that has enough grass for the kids to burn off some energy and a small piece of equipment to climb and slide on in Reston!

Colts Brook Recreation Park in Reston, VA!

Colts Brook Recreation Park in Reston, VA!

Last week we were walking on the Reston Association trails and came across Colts Brook Recreation Park in the Hunter Woods district. Colts Brook is a short walk down the trail from Polo Fields Recreation Area Park. 

Between Thunder Chase Drive and Club Pond Lane

(We parked along Club Pond Lane and walked a short distance down the trail.  If you don’t live in the neighborhood, you could also park at Polo Fields parking lot and take the trail).

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We really enjoy taking the trails in Reston and enjoy coming across some of these nice little neighborhood parks.  We got to cross a bridge on the trail and then the boys got really excited and ran to the playground equipment.  There were two slides, climbing equipment and monkey bars.  Just passed the playground equipment are four swings (two baby and two regular).  Behind the playground area is a basketball court.  Last week was a very hot and humid day.  We were pleasantly surprised by how nicely shaded this park was.  There was a picnic table with a trash can as well.

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If you live in the Polo Fields or Colts Brook neighborhood, this park is one of three parks in your neighborhood.  If you aren’t in the neighborhood, I still recommend checking these parks out!