The Great Outdoors
Start your exploration of the great outdoors at Great Falls Park. Explore one of the nation's first canals, see the Great Falls of the Potomac, or enjoy a hike along Mather Gorge's dramatic cliff-tops. You can do all of these things and more at Great Falls Park. Park hours are 7 a.m. until dark, every day. The three falls overlooks are located within a five to ten minute walk from the visitor center and parking lots. Trail maps and a small museum can be found inside the visitor center and entrance station. You can also bicycle, bird watch, take a guided tour or even kayak the rapids on your visit! Check their website for more details on park rules, restrictions, fees, and tour times.
Travel up the road to Riverbend Park which is located up-river from Great Falls. Here the water is a lot more calm which lends itself to exploring the nearby area by rent-able watercraft. Excellent hiking trails and fishing are also found at Riverbend. Begin your visit here by checking out the visitor center upon arrival to get detailed information on everything available for you to do.
Finish your day by visiting the "skinniest park in Virginia" - the Washington & Old Dominion trail. The paved trail was created over the old Washington & Old Dominion rail bed which is where the park gets its name. The trail is 45 miles in total length, but don't worry, you don't have to travel the entire trail at once (unless you want to) as you can pick it up at dozens of access points along it's scenic path across Northern Virginia. This trail is extremely popular with runners, bicyclists, and even horseback riders (available in select areas), so be prepared for a lot of people if the weather is nice outside!
Start your second day by visiting southern Fairfax County and Mason Neck State Park. Mason Neck offers many outdoor activities and programs. It has hiking trails, 3 miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe launch and a visitor center. Canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals are also available. Bird watching, especially for American bald eagles, and guided canoe trips of Kane's Creek and Belmont Bay are favorites with park visitors. The park's wetlands, forest, open water, ponds and open fields make it ideal for environmental study and wildlife observation. Visit the park's website for additional details on fees, events, and downloadable trail guides.
Nearby you'll find Pohick Bay Regional Park which also allows you to explore the Potomac River with rentable canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and jon boats on the weekends. In addition to water activities the park also offers family and group camping, hiking, picnic areas and a large play area for children. For those of you interested in swimming, we offer one of the largest, outdoor freeform pools on the east coast! Nature lovers can expect to see blue birds, osprey, heron, deer, beavers and rare sightings of river otters. In addition to all this, Pohick Bay also offers camping and a seasonal water park that you and the kids are sure to enjoy! Check the parks website for entrance fees and boat rental costs.
Finish the day at Fountainhead Regional Park. Fountainhead is situated in Fairfax Station, where visitors will quickly discover the spectacular view of the widest point of the Occoquan Reservoir. Perfect for fishing or simply relaxing on the calm waters, Fountainhead's water access allows for private boat launching as well as canoe, kayak and jon boat rentals. Fountainhead also offers a handicap accessible fishing pier. On land, the park also boasts one of the most challenging mountain bike trails in the region, which features a stacked loop system, with a beginner level loop that newer and younger riders can stay on, or riders can continue on the connecting intermediate loop, and then on to an advanced loop. The course includes the beginner and intermediate loops and boardwalk, trail bridges and technical trail features to create a challenging and exciting ride for cyclists of all abilities.
Start day three at Burke Lake Park. A 218-acre lake with fishing, boating, rowboat rental, camping, a miniature train, a carousel, outdoor volleyball courts, open fields, an 18-hole par 3 golf course, clubhouse with snack bar and driving range, disk golf, horseshoe pits, an ice cream parlor, picnic areas with grills, 3 playgrounds, trails, amphitheater, and miniature golf course. Please adhere to all rules of the park which includes the fact that swimming and windsurfing on the lake are prohibited. Burke Lake Park boasts one of the 10 best fitness trails in the nation. That's the assessment of the American Hiking Society, after its trail specialists hiked high and low to find top 10 candidates in or near a major metropolitan area (close enough to use before or after work or on lunch hours) with portions that can be completed in 60-90 minutes. The Burke Lake Loop Trail follows the shoreline 4.7 miles around the lake, with bays jutting out from the main body of water that provide a welcome sense of solitude. Gravel surfaced for most of its length, Burke Lake's loop trail is "a fine choice for either a brisk walk or a run," plus it's also suitable for biking.
Finish up the day at Occoquan Regional Park which is a spacious space that is scenically located on the Occoquan River diagonally across from the Town of Occoquan. It offers 400 acres of recreational space and a touch of the past with its historic brick kilns and the memory of imprisoned women suffragists. Occoquan Regional Park is also one of the few places in the region to serve as a trailhead for and site within multiple routes of regional and national significance.
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