Tag Archives: NoVa Parks

Outdoor Recreation in NoVa at Fountainhead Regional Park


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. 😉




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Filed under All ages, Free, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Social Distancing, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from a Fall Day at Huntley Meadows Park

Lately, it’s been a little harder for us to plan weekend outings as a family. Saturdays and Sundays are often busy with sports, and as the kids have gotten older, they (well, mostly Owen) want to hang out with their friends more than they want to with Levi and me (why? we’re so cool!).

So, it was really nice recently when we had a long stretch of time between a morning soccer practice and an evening soccer game, and no one had anything else going on. Well, I had one small errand to run in Alexandria, so we decided to plan around that. We wanted to take advantage of the beautiful fall day and opted for a hike at Huntley Meadows Park, easily one of the best places, in my opinion, to enjoy the outdoors in that area.

Huntley Meadows Park makes for a great outing any time of year, but it’s especially lovely now as the leaves start to turn, and the weather is pleasant for walking the boardwalk that spans the beautiful wetlands.

I first learned about the park from my friend Darcy nearly a decade ago, and we have been many times since. And even in the kids’ tween and teen years, they (we) still really enjoy a visit there — hiking the trail, looking for frogs and other creatures, and taking in the beautiful scenery. Better now, though, is that we don’t have to worry about them falling in the marsh! 😉

Huntley Meadows Park is located at 3701 Lockheed Blvd in Alexandria. It’s open daily from dawn to dusk, and admission is free. You can read more about it in this post. And here are more scenes from our recent visit.

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Filed under 2019, All ages, Educational, Fall, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Outdoor Recreation at Pohick Bay Regional Park

It might seem a bit counterintuitive to be posting about a great outdoor spot with the frigid temps and foul weather we’ve had lately. Part of my justification for the timing: Maybe thinking about future fun we’ll have outside will help us tolerate the winter conditions. The other part: I want to get this post up while our outing there isn’t so far behind us that I forget about it. (Plus, we’re about to have a couple of warmer, sunnier days, so this recommendation could come in handy sooner than later.)

We visited Pohick Bay Regional Park in November, when the foliage was at its peak, and the weather was a tad warmer (and by a tad, I mean about 30 degrees). We had a couple of motivations for choosing the spot for that afternoon’s outing: 1) We wanted to get out for a nice hike at a new (to us) place 2) We wanted said place to be convenient to The Block, an Asian street food hall in Annandale that we were keen on checking out. (KFDC Tip: Including fun food stops in the mix always seems to get kids — mine, anyway — more excited for new adventures.)

Pohick Bay Regional Park is located in Lorton, VA, about a 40 minute drive from DC. We went to do a little hiking, but there is actually much more to do there, though mostly from spring through early fall. Along with eight and half miles of hiking trails that traverse the wooded area and offer lovely views of the Bay, other year-round features include a disc golf course, a nearby regular golf course, fishing (license required in VA), equestrian trails, and a playground. During warmer seasons, there is mini golf, camping & cabins, paddling opportunities, and outdoor programs. And in the summer, Pirate’s Cove Waterpark looks like a super fun way to stay cool on hot days.

Since the gate house was closed when we went, there was no admission fee, but from mid-March to mid-October, entry is $8/car ($15/week). We followed signs to a parking area, then began our hike at a trailhead just off it. The trees were brilliant colors and the ground was covered with leaves, making for a lovely autumn walk. We only hiked in the woods for a couple of miles before coming out on a road and walking back to the playground not far from our car and just off the Bay. The kids played there for awhile — a perfect way to work up an appetite before hitting our next destination, The Block. Which, btw, I highly recommend!

Pohick Bay Regional Park
Where: 6501 Pohick Bay Drive | Lorton, VA
Hours: Daily, dawn – dusk
Admission: $8/car ($15/week) mid-March – mid-October / Free in winter

The Block
Where: 4221 John Marr Drive | Annandale, VA
Hours: Mon-Weds, Sun 11am – Midnight, Tues-Sat 11am – 2am
Admission: Free, but plan to spend on food!

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Filed under All ages, DC, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Sports, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend