Posts tagged with parks


More NOVA Parks

I found a few more parks that look potentially interesting.

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

From Fairfax County Parks:

Located in western Fairfax County, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park was established to preserve large areas of open space, protect natural and cultural features and provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the public.

Visitors will find a unique experience whether visiting to bird watch, hike, exercise, discover the natural and cultural history of the land, picnic, participate in organized sports, attend an educational program or just relax.

Google Map

Lehigh Portland Park

Google Map

NVRPA Parks

Below are a few of the parks Stephanie and I want to visit in NOVA. All descriptions are from each park’s page on the NVRPA website.

Fountainhead

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. 

The park also serves as one of the major access points for the Bull Run Occoquan Trail.

Bull Run

Bull Run’s spacious fields accommodate groups by the hundreds, even thousands, for picnics, camping or special events. Bull Run’s scenic woodland and trails offer miles of hiking and solitude. In springtime, acres of bluebells and other wildflowers bloom beside a picturesque, meandering stream. A large outdoor pool is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Disc golf is open year round. A public shooting center, which includes sporting clays, skeet, trap, wobble trap and indoor archery, is open year-round.

Red Rock Widerness Overlook

Discover a beautiful out-of-the-way place. Hike over hills and through the woods to panoramic views of the Potomac and the distant blue foothills across the river on this 67 acre property. Trails range from moderate to strenuous.

Dogs are allowed on a leash according to Town and County leash laws. Red Rock Wilderness Overlook is a trash free park meaning that all visitors should take their trash with them. No public restrooms are available at the park.

Occoquan

This spacious park 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: Park lands, trails and associated waters are part of the Fairfax Cross-County Trail; the diverse, braided network of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and related outdoor experiences; an historic journey commemorated by the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail; and the Occoquan Water Trail, recognized as both a National Recreation Trail and part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Water Trails Network.

Pohick Bay

Pohick Bay is a water oriented park located on the Potomac River 25 miles south of the nation’s capital.  Our boat launch facility is one of only 3 public access points to the Potomac River in northern Virginia and the closest to Washington DC and its famous waterfront.  Pohick Bay offers canoes, kayaks, paddle boats and jon boats for rent 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!  Please contact the park about swim lessons for your family.

Pohick Bay Regional Park, located on Mason Neck Pennisula is an ecologically fragile land that shelters an abundance of wildlife, including the bald eagle.  Nature lovers can expect to see blue birds, osprey, heron, deer, beavers and rare sightings of river otters.

Upton Hill

Upton Hill Regional Park offers visitors a wooded oasis in the heart of the most densely populated area of Northern Virginia. A large outdoor waterpark complex is a sparkling attraction in this wooded, urban park, which straddles the boundary line between Arlington and Fairfax counties. The deluxe miniature golf course boasts one of the longest mini golf holes in the world; the batting cages include 9 baseball and softball cages.

The park is open every day for hiking, picnicking, playing on the playground and enjoying the outdoors.

Algonkian

Located on the scenic Potomac shore, Algonkian Regional Park is the perfect place for an afternoon of fun in the sun, a family vacation or even your wedding. The park includes Volcano Island (a large waterpark complex), a par-72 golf course, miniature golf, trails, a boat launch, picnic shelters, vacation cottages, and The Woodlands, a versatile wedding and meeting center.

Potomac Overlook

On the Potomac Palisades in north Arlington, Potomac Overlook offers 70 acres of peaceful woodland, trails, educational gardens, a small picnic area and a Nature Center. The Nature Center features brand new exhibits called the "Energerium", offering visitors a fun and accessible way to learn energy basics and ways they can help create sustainable energy solutions. The displays blend lessons from ecology, Earth Science, physics, chemistry and other topics in clear, understandable ways. The Nature Center also houses live animals and natural history exhibits and is the office for NVRPA’s naturalist staff.

Ball’s Bluff

Surrounding Ball’s Bluff National Cemetery, this regional park preserves the site of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, the first Civil War engagement to take place in Loudoun County. Hiking trails and interpretive signs aid in understanding this important and tragic part of American history.

Blue Ridge

Located in Bluemont on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Loudoun County, this newly developed property offers the ideal setting for an escape to the mountains for organized youth group tent camping. This 168-acre park offers 3 primitive camping areas that can accommodate 30 campers each.  Basic necessities such as vehicle parking, fire rings, picnic tables, and portable restrooms are provided.  Access to the park is limited to registered campers only.

Weekend Outings

We headed out to Joseph Bryan, James River, and Echo Lake parks this weekend. It was apparently a good weekend for birding as there were a bunch of us enthusiasts out, especially at James River Park. New Birds for our list this week include a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a juvenile Double Crested Cormorant, a mother and juvenile Wood Duck, and a pair of adult Barn Swallows. You can find their links on the Wildlife page.

As for snakes and reptiles, we hit up Echo Lake, which is usually a safe bet if you want to find snakes. We saw a couple of Garter snakes this time out.

Virginia State Parks

Bear Creek Lake State Park

  • Visited: One Time
  • Camped: Yes
  • Notes: Of the state parks we’ve visited, Bear Creek was the most like the national forests and parks near where I grew up; which was a good thing. A lot of Virginia’s state parks have a managed, utilitarian feel about them which can detract from the experiance of “getting away from it all”. Bear creek, on the other hand, was a little less Disney and a little more nature.
  • Highlights: Scenic, easy hikes through the woods; relatively small size
  • Pictures

Belle Isle State Park

  • Visited: One Time
  • Camped: No
  • Notes: I went to Belle Isle with a co-worker friend who was not much of a nature lover, and this park didn’t help turn him. During the time of year we went, the insects were in full force and wouldn’t leave us alone. Having bug spray and/or coming at a different time of year may have helped. I saw my first wild Bald Eagle here, so that was a plus. I’ll probably want to come back here with Stephanie in the autumn for some bird watching and maybe some kayaking along the shore of the Rappahannock.
  • Highlights: Scenic marshes; likely a good bird watching area
  • Bummers: The “trails” were just shadeless gravel roads; pesky insects
  • Pictures

Breaks Interstate Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Caledon Natural Area

  • Visited: Two Times
  • Camped: No Camping
  • Notes: We’ve accidentally been here twice. One of the newer state parks, Calendon is hopefully still growning into itself. There seem to me to be three distinct areas of the park. The first is the area between the visitor’s center and the water. The trails here are just gravel roads and aren’t much to look at; they’re mostly just a means to an end. The second area starts just as you get near the water and the landscape turns into a marshy bed of life. Here is where the park starts to come alive and offers a chance to see the nesting Bald Eagles do their thing. The third area is the more natural and scenic trail system. Pro: one could come back many times and still hike a different part of the trail system. Con: the maps and trail markers are utterly confusing! Caledon is the first park where I felt lost most of the time. We finally emerged from the woods in someone’s back yard. We quickly skipped through their yard and across to the park’s parking area. I’d like to hike these trails again, but next time with a little more thought.
  • Highlights: some trails are great hikes; coast line offers many great photo ops
  • Bummers: a third of the park feels like a waste; confusing trail system
  • Pictures, Pictures

Chippokes Plantation State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Claytor Lake State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Douthat State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Fairy Stone State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

False Cape State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

First Landing State Park

  • Visited: One Time
  • Camped: Yes
  • Notes: This is Virginia’s most visited state park, and likely by a very large margin. Since part of it is on the ocean, it draws huge crowds. Stephanie and I camped here and it was one of the most miserable experiences we’ve had. The camground was packed, full of inconsiderate jerks. Don’t come here if you’re wanting to get away from the noice of the big city, at least not while the schools are out for holiday. Fortunantly, what the park lacks in privacy and quietness, it more than makes up in its beauty. The section along the beach is as close to peaceful and natural as you’ll get from a public beach on Virginia’s Atlantis coast short of the Eastern Shore. The more inland areas have some beautiful trails and the kayacking was a nice change of scenery from what we’re used to. I’d like to come back here someday, but definitely off-season.
  • Highlights: Beautiful scenery; distinct among the state park system
  • Bummers: Time your visit wisely or you’ll be bumping elbows
  • Pictures

Grayson Highlands State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

High Bridge Trail State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Holliday Lake State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Hungry Mother State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

James River State Park

  • Visited: One Time
  • Camped: Yes
  • Notes: James River left me with the feeling of, heh. What this park has going for it is probably the best camping experience we’ve had. There are about half a donzen or so sites, and those sites are nicely spaced. The sites are also far removed from the rest of the park so it was a nice, quiet evening. There’s a shuttle service for kayakers and canoers that will shuttle you and your boat upstream so that you can paddle back down to the park. This section of the river looked to be rather calm.
  • Highlights: Excellent “primative” camping; easy group paddling
  • Bummers: Hikes were a bit boring
  • Pictures

Kiptopeke State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Lake Anna State Park

  • Visited: Two Times
  • Camped: No
  • Notes: The biggest draw here is to the man-made lake after which this park is named. This is a popular destination for power water craft and is likely quite busy during the warmer months. While I’d like to make use of Lake Anna for sailing, the word around the ‘Net is that 1) the wind isn’t great, and only gets better after a stretch below the park and 2) it’s overrun with the motor boats and jet skies. The trail system here is decent especially if you like a leisurely stroll through the woods. We haven’t camped here but durning our last visit, we drove through the camp ground which looked to pack the sites on top of each other. We’ll probably skip camping here unless we reserve one of the cabins they have on the grounds.
  • Highlights: decent trails not far from Richmond
  • Bummers: Busy and noisy waterways; sad camping
  • Pictures, Pictures

Leesylvania State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Mason Neck State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Middle Peninsula State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Natural Tunnel State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

New River Trail State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Occoneechee State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Pocahontas State Park

  • Visited: Four Times
  • Camped: No
  • Notes: This is probably my favorite all-around park in the system. We visited Pocahontas twice in 2010 and twice in 2012. It’s maybe not at as intimate as Bear Creek Lake or as picturesque as First Landing, but it’s a good middle-of-the-road park. The management of this park has led to a little something for everyone whether you’re camping, hiking, canoeing, horse riding, mountain biking, swimming or enjoying a show at the ampitheater. Its relatively large size is well utilized and never feels crowded, even when it is. We’ve never camped here; something we’ll have to rectify soon!
  • Hightlights: Nice, plentiful trails; easy kayaking
  • Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Powhatan State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Seven Bends State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Shenandoah River Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Shot Tower Historical State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Sky Meadows State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Smith Mountain Lake State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Staunton River State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Staunton River Battlefield State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Tabb Monument

  • Visited: Not Yet

Twin Lakes State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Widewater State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet

Wilderness Road State Park

  • Visited: Not Yet