Not ready to go inside yet?
As we soak up the last of the summer sun, many are looking for ways to make the most of their time outside. Whether you want to give your children (and yourself) a break from distance learning, or just want to enjoy the autumn weather, here is a list of great places to check out for your daily walks that are easily accessible to Northern Virginia residents.
1. Great Falls Park
Courtesy of oneroadatatime.com
Literally across the river from D.C. and Maryland, the enormous Great Falls Park makes up a sizeable swath of the Virginia bank of the Potomac River, mirroring the C&O Canal Park on the Maryland side. It offers wide gravel paths with plenty of tree coverage, as well as trails that emerge onto rocky outcrops overlooking the river. History buffs will love the paths along the Patowmack Canal, which was used early in our country's history for shipping and transportation. The lush greenery of the wetlands and the stark magnificence of the rocky crags will make any nature lover swoon.
2. Huntley Meadows
Courtesy of The Zebra
Located in Alexandria, Huntley Meadows Park offers the ideal paths for leisurely woodland walks that lead out onto a boardwalk over marshlands. The spot is especially popular for photographers and birdwatchers because the marshes are home to a wide array of wetland wildlife. The park also hosts near-daily events and classes on drawing, photography, ecology, natural history, and nature appreciation.
3. Rock Creek Park
Courtesy of the National Parks Conservation Association
Rock Creek Park may be located in D.C., but it will make you feel like you are somewhere far more bucolic while you're there. Many visit this huge park, which also encompasses Dumbarton Oaks Park and Meridian Hill Park, for the verdant scenery and waterfalls. However, you will also enjoy its nature center, planetarium, and historical sites, such as the Civil War-era Peirce Mill.
4. Turkey Run Park
Courtesy of Live and Let Hike
Turkey Run Park is a long, narrow slice of land along the Potomac Gorge's river banks comprised of several types of habitats brimming with biodiversity. You will love walking along the water on the Potomac Heritage Trail, where you can spot boaters and kayakers. Prepare to be astounded as the trail suddenly emerges onto waterfall after waterfall, each feeling like a secret oasis. You will no doubt find a nice, big rock to sit on while you have a snack and listen to the soothing sounds of rushing water.
5. Bluemont Park
Courtesy of Yelp
Located in Arlington, Bluemont Park is extremely popular among locals, and it's not hard to see why. Many visitors go there for the recreation alone, since it boasts soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, and a disc golf course. Plus, the W&OD trail runs through the park and serves as a veritable highway for Northern Virginia bikers, joggers, and walkers. If you follow it far enough along Four Mile Run, it will even take you past an active beaver habitat. For a more secluded walk, check out the other paths that wind through the woods, but look out for trail runners and mountain bikers.
What other natural gems do you find yourself visiting over and over again? Let us know in the comments below!