Each spring in Fairfax County, something magical happens: our woodland floors transform into carpets of wildflowers that beg to be seen! And, nearby, you’ll often find spots where significant moments in military history unfolded. While Virginia bluebells can usually be seen during the first two weeks of April, bloom times vary and the lives of bluebells are short. It's always recommended to check with the parks before you travel. But in the meantime, start charting your path to bluebells and battlefields in Fairfax County!
Discover fields of beauty where battles were once fought.
Photo courtesy Friends of Riverbend Park via Facebook
They say bluebells are a symbol of gratitude and humility. This is especially profound if you consider that many Virginia bluebells grow near battlegrounds—gratitude for the sacrifice, and humility so it never happens again. During the War of 1812, President James Madison fled the British invasion of Washington, DC, escaping to what is now Riverbend Park where he awaited safe passage to Maryland by ferry. Had it been springtime, he would have seen one of the best and most popular bluebell trails in the region.
Watch history come into bloom.
Photo courtesy of NOVA Parks
Bluebells are associated with ancient forests. So it makes sense they would bloom on protected land. At Bull Run Regional Park, you can stroll along a rushing stream surrounded by wildflowers. Located near Blackburn’s Ford and accessible via the Bull Run/Occoquan Trail, the park's bluebell trail is a must.
Find beauty on hallowed ground.
Imagine the striking contrast between delicate bluebells and the Stone Bridge, one of the region’s most recognizable Civil War landmarks. This paradox repeats throughout Manassas National Battlefield Park as carpets of wildflowers dot the battlefield. Afterward, reward yourself for a hike well done at The Winery of Bull Run next door.
Bonus reason to visit The Winery at Bull Run: they just unveiled a new Civil War Museum on-site and have announced new Witness to History Museum Tours, now available every Friday & Saturday at 10am and Sunday at 10am & 4pm. Tickets here.
Walk trails at a former hotspot for the transport of war supplies.
Photo courtesy of Friends of Lake Accotink Park via Facebook
As one of Fairfax County’s three lakefront parks, Lake Accotink Park offers opportunities to hike and bike miles of trails, fish from the shoreline, and observe the changing of the seasons. You may notice on your visit, however, the route of a former rail line. Once crossed by the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, chartered in 1849, the area of Lake Accotink Park was a useful railroad during the Civil War. It was instrumental in transporting both troops and supplies, with the wooden trestle over Accotink Creek being a prime target for Confederate soldiers looking to disrupt Union supply lines.
In several locations, stone culverts built with the railroad in the 1850s are still visible and functional. Spot areas of historical significance alongside Virginia Bluebells on the tranquil paths of this neighborhood gem.
Where will you go to spot Virginia bluebells in Fairfax County? If you're searching for more petal-peeping fun available all season long, be sure to check out our guide to local hidden and acclaimed gardens. Want to plant your own beautiful garden? Check out these places to pick up native plants and seeds. Happy hunting!