Even though I have a backlog of posts waiting to be written about places we’ve visited over the past many months, I’m skipping over them to cover a spot we just went to over the weekend: Fountainhead Regional Park. It actually should have been on the blog (or at least that long list), as we’d already been there several times, the first over 10 years ago. But as it’s fresh in my mind and a great locale for enjoying the spring weather, here we are now.
Located in Fairfax Station, VA, about 35 minutes from DC, Fountainhead is a 2,000-acre sprawl of trails and the Occoquan Reservoir, all of it practically screaming active recreation. It’s known as one of the better mountain biking spots in the DC area — and that’s what brought us there yesterday. Levi, Owen, and some friends were eager to do some trail riding after a hiatus this winter. (Even though we’d had nice weather before this past weekend, they were waiting until the trails were dry enough, so as not to damage them.)
I enjoy mountain biking, too, but prefer it a little more mellow than what they were planning to ride at Fountainhead. There are lots of steep climbs, fast descents, rocky areas, and jumps within the 15 miles of biking routes in the Fountainhead woods (you can read more about it here). The riding crew had a blast tackling several miles of it over a good couple of hours. However, Sasha and I decided to stay on our feet.
So, while the boys were two-wheeling it, a few of us parents, a couple of younger siblings, and our pups enjoyed a hike. The Bull Run Occoquan Trail winds through the park and actually continues through Bull Run Marina, Hemlock Overlook Park, and Bull Run Regional Park. We hiked out and back, a little over an hour each way, along the well-maintained trail. There’s a lot of up and downhill, but it’s not too strenuous, and the path is mostly flat, with just a few rocky and rooty areas. The surrounding scenery full of tall trees is lovely, most of it leafless this time of year, but come later spring and summer, the landscape turns into an oasis of green as the foliage returns.
A small 19th-century family cemetery is near the start of the trail, and there are several short footbridges to cross and small creeks on the way. From some parts of the hike, glimpses of the Occoquan Reservoir can be caught through the trees from above, or you can walk down to the banks for closer views. And while we only saw small birds and squirrels on this visit, wildlife sightings could include deer, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, turkeys, snakes, and a few more small creatures.
Hiking and biking aren’t the only ways to enjoy Fountainhead. Boat rentals are available from early March through mid-November, and you can paddle the reservoir by kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard. Or you can cruise the water in a jon boat. Fishing is permitted, too. (See rates for all of them here.) If you’ve got your own watercraft, you can use the boat launch (for a fee). We haven’t taken to the waters yet, but a paddling excursion is the plan the next time we go.
Fountainhead Regional Park is located at 10875 Hampton Road in Fairfax Station, VA. It’s open daily sunrise to sunset. Admission is free. For mountain biking, be sure to check the park’s Facebook page for trail status.
Some good things to know:
* There are parking lots about a half-mile beyond the entrance to the park and near the boat rental area.
* Hiking and biking trails start right from the main parking area.
* Portable restrooms are located in the parking lot, and modern ones at the boat launch area.
* A concession stand is located in the boat launch area as well, operating when the rentals are open.
* Picnic tables are available in the park (one right next to the main parking lot) and pavilions can be reserved.
* Fountainhead is a great place to contemplate Objectivism. 😉