Tag Archives: DC Area Hikes

A Breath of Fresh Air at Sky Meadows State Park


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.

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Filed under All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Five Things for Today: July 6, 2020

The beautiful gardens at the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland

1.. The gardens at the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland is open, and it’s a lovely, peaceful place to wander around, view the plants, structures, and religious art, and just reflect. They are open 9am – 5pm daily.

2. The National Postal Museum has an online hub with with activities, games and quizzes for both kids and adults. Have you been to the museum? It’s wonderful, though often overlooked, because of its off-the-Mall location. Read more about it here and plan to visit when it reopens.

3. This evening from 5:30-6:30pm, join the National Museum of Women in the Arts for a Virtual Happy Hour to celebrate Frida Kahlo’s Birthday. Make a specialty cocktail in her honor, share Frida facts, and explore the museum’s collection and archives for all things Frida. Registration require — sign up free here

4. East City Bookshop has a section of Antiracism Resources on their website that includes tips on talking about racism wit kids and book recommendations for every age — board books, pictures books, early reader, middle reader, and young adult. The shop is closed right now, but you can place an online order and have it shipped, or pick up at the store.

5. Wish I’d seen and shared this McSweeney’s article a couple of days ago, but better late than never.

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Social Distancing, Summer

Five Things for Today: July 5, 2020

Some of the new Statehood murals near The Atlas on H Street

1. There are 51 new DC Statehood murals around DC. Activity with the kids: Make it a mission to see them all this summer!

2. Disc golf courses around the area have reopened, and it’s a great way to spend some outdoor time with the fam while social distancing. Not sure what it’s all about? Read about it in this KFDC post on playing in College Park. We’ve also enjoyed it at Seneca Creek State Park and Burke Lake Park.

3. How to help kids embrace mask wearing.

4. Smithsonian Magazine has a round-up of 75 research projects you can participate in and contribute to from home.

5. I follow four people on Tik Tok — my two kids, Charlie D’Amelio (because Sasha said everyone does), and this mom, whose videos about vegan cooking I can’t stop watching — and I’m not even vegan.

🥦 🍅 🥕 🥑 🍆

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Maryland, Social Distancing, Virginia

Five Things for Today: July 4th, 2020

Happy 4th of July!

1. Looking to cool off? WTOP has the scoop on local pool reopenings. And here are quick links for facilities now open: PG County (only outdoor pools are open), Arlington County, Fairfax County.

2. For swimming at parks and other areas, see this Facebook post crowdsourcing recommendations. We really enjoyed a dip at Patapsco Valley State Park, which I mentioned a few weeks ago here.

3. Music for the 4th… The United States Air Force Band, Washington Performing Arts, and National Harbor have partnered together with special guest artists Joshua Bell, Soloman Howard, and Larisa Martinez to present a special online event, streamed live at 4pm. Hosted by DC’s own Aaron Gilchrist, morning anchor at NBC4, “A Tribute to the American Spirit” will highlight the resilience of all Americans, honor our veterans, and celebrate Independence Day with some patriotic favorites. And the annual A Capitol Fourth concert that usually takes place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol is going virtual this year. Watch the special 40th anniversary presentation on PBS at 8pm tonight.

4. Boozy Fourth of July drinks.

5. A round-up of stylish face masks and where to shop for them from Vogue. (You can also get very reasonably priced masks from Old Navy and Target, and these are so pretty.)

🇺🇸 💥 🇺🇸 💥 🇺🇸

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend