Fall is the perfect time to get outside people! There's something about the smell of those freshly fallen leaves (you know what I'm talking about) and the crispness of the air that just touches the soul when you get out into nature and start moving around. The American Hiking Society has deemed November 17 as National Take A Hike Day, and with winter fast approaching you're on a short leash when it comes to opportunities to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Some of the best fall hikes in Northern Virginia are located in Fairfax County, so grab your gear, get your hiking shoes ready, sweaters on, and let's go!

Here are 10 spots worth adding to your fall hiking destination list:

Great Falls Park

Great Falls Park
Photo courtesy Jen

Great Falls Park has 15 miles of hiking trails and is a bucket list park for anyone coming to the area. The trails are either packed dirt or gravel, no paved trails here.  But what is here are gorgeous views of the Potomac River and plenty of outdoor adventure to be had. Read more about hiking in Great Falls Park and download the trail map here.

Fountainhead Regional Park

Fountainhead Regional Park
Photo courtesy Travis Arnold

Fountainhead Regional Park contains over 2,000 acres of rugged outdoor adventure, including kayak rentals, shared-use hiking, equestrian trails, and trailhead access to the 19.7-mile Bull Run Occoquan Trail. Even though this blog is about hiking, we'll forgive you if you choose to take in the autumn splendor by boat. 

Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Park
Photo courtesy of William Moore

Burke Lake Park has a 4.7-mile, shoreline, (mostly) gravel trail that gives you great views of the lake. But the underlying beauty of this trail (for you fitness go-getters) is that it was rated as one of the 10 Best Fitness Trails in America by the American Hiking Society.  

Pohick Bay Regional Park

Pohick Bay
Photo courtesy Matt Felperin

Pohick Bay Regional Park is home to a wide network of trails that wind throughout the park and offer great glimpses of the bay, and portions of the local environment - totaling over eight and a half miles combined. They also offer kayak rentals, plus camping site and cabin rentals if you want to kick back and stay a while. Get the hiking trails map here and then plan your trip to the great outdoors. 

Mason Neck State Park

Mason Neck State Park
Photo courtesy Megan Fraedrich

Mason Neck State Park is known nationwide as a birder's paradise, so don't be shocked if you see some Bald Eagles or Ospreys on your trek. With over 9 miles of paved and unpaved trails, some of which take you across some sweet marshland, this place is a gem of a park. Download the trail map here and get ready to embark on a wonderful adventure.

Lake Fairfax Park

Lake Fairfax
Photo courtesy Michiko Chand

Lake Fairfax Park has a neat little loop trail around the lake that gives you the opportunity to get a glimpse of some fall foliage. The Fairfax County Park Authority has a trail map of the park for you to browse which will make navigation super easy. And as a special treat for you hiker/fishermen types, fishing is available year-round, so make sure to bring your pole and fishing license.

E.C. Lawrence Park

Ellanor C Lawrence Park
Photo courtesy Goldie Chan

E.C. Lawrence Park is a 650-acre gem-of-a-park that has 4 miles of trails that meander through lowlands, woods, and meadows, plus some cool historic buildings on-site as well.  Near Cabell's Mill, there is also access to the Rocky Run Stream Valley Trail which offers over 3 more miles of hiking bliss over a variety of surfaces – both asphalt and stone dust. Stream crossings include bridges, fairweather crossings, and paved swales.

Huntley Meadows Park

Huntley Meadows
Photo courtesy Dave

Huntley Meadows is one of the most beloved parks in Fairfax County and is known for its 2-mile marshland boardwalk trail and cool observation towers. You will definitely see some folks with their epic (and expensive) camera lenses there as Huntley Meadows is a prime birding location and birders covet the park's access to some 200+ unique species along the boardwalk.

Riverbend Park

Riverbend Park
Photo courtesy Claudia Espinosa

Riverbend Park has more than 10 miles of hiking trails and sweet views of the Potomac River, so you can definitely get a good workout in on your day outside and have the opportunity to snap some sweet pics as well. Browse their trail map and see if you can find the path that will take you south to Great Falls Park.


Lake Accotink Park

Lake Accotink Park
Photo courtesy Balsate Ibrahim

Lake Accotink invites you to hike along the main trail for picturesque views of the lake and surrounding forest and marsh habitat. This is only a small portion of the 493-acre park but one that you'll surely appreciate on your day outside.

These are just some of the places that I've been to that I think you'll enjoy, but there are more options on our hiking trails page. If you're interested in hiking to one of our local breweries or wineries, check out our blog about hikes with a reward! Be sure to tag us on social media using #FXVA or @VisitFairfax and show us where you go on National Hiking Day. Have fun. Be safe. And I look forward to seeing you in the great outdoors!