When COVID hit, I put a pause on posting write-ups about individual places. Between stay-at-home orders back in the spring and general uncertainty about what we should and shouldn’t be doing even as those orders let up, it seemed best to take a lighter approach to recommending outings. I might have mentioned them among the Five Things or included them in larger round-ups, but they didn’t get the KFDC fan fare that they would have pre-coronavirus.
Hence, I now have some catching up to do. Over the last many months (how long has it been now?), we’ve explored some new places and had some great adventures. So, now that the DC area is well into new phases of reopening, it’s time to start rolling out write-ups about them — starting with Sky Meadows State Park in Northern Virginia.
Our first visit to the park was our first real outing during the coronavirus beyond the sidewalks and streets of Capitol Hill, where we live, back in the spring. Hiking was permitted, and it was one of few parks still open, plus we heard from friends who’d been that there were barely any other visitors. So, we made a trip out to Delaplane, VA, for an escape from our oh-so-familiar neighborhood walk routine and a literal and figurative breath of fresh air. We enjoyed it so much, we went back again in the summer.
Sky Meadows encompasses over 1800 acres in a rural area of Fauquier County, about 50 miles west of DC. Rolling hills, knots of woods, and sprawling pastures offer a nice mix of recreational opportunities, beautiful scenery, and a bit of history. Trails wind through clusters of trees and along ridges overlooking swaths of farmland.
There are 22 miles of trails to hike, including the Appalachian Trail — a three-mile stretch of it runs through the park. Some trails are open to biking and horseback riding (BYO horse) as well. Lengths vary, and there are plenty of short routes that would make for nice walks with little kids. There is even a whole Children’s Discovery Area and a Sensory Explorers Trail (which wasn’t open during our visits because of COVID).
Mount Bleak House located next to the main parking lot offers tours and programs for insight into the history of the park. (The house was still closed on our visits, so we didn’t get to experience them, but programs have now resumed.) There are also picnic areas and shelters, cabins, and campsites that you can reserve.
On both of our visits, we hopped on a few different trails — many of them interconnect — but we explored different parts of the park each time. We meandered through forested areas, looked for fish in a small pond, wound our way up a hill to enjoy the valley views below, and followed paths edging cow grazing pastures. There were very few other people there, so we were able to keep our masks off most of the time, too!
We followed up our summer visit with a stop at Barrel Oak Winery and Farm Taphouse, just minutes away (look for a post on that soon). Some sampling of the house specialty along with a bite to eat was a perfect way to make the most of our time out there and wind down the day.
Sky Meadows State Park is located at 11012 Edmonds Lane in Delaplane, VA. The main entrance is on State Route 710. It’s open daily, 8am – dusk. The Visitor Center/Gift Shop is open Thursday – Monday, with weekday hours from 11am – 5pm, and weekends 10am – 5pm.