Old Town Alexandria is home to so many different state parks. It’s definitely one of the big pluses when if you’re thinking of buying a home in Alexandria. You can not only go for a run or relax in these parks, but you can also cast a line and fish.
So, here are the top 5 State Parks located in Alexandria, Virginia.
1. Jones Point Park
You can find this park on the Potomac River just south of the Old Town Alexandria. It’s a huge piece of Alexandria’s history and serves as one of the largest centers for shipping and manufacturing. It also houses the last remaining riverine lighthouse in the State of Virginia; built in 1855.
You can go on the gravel interpretive trail in the park which explains all the natural and human history behind the park. The exhibits like the fresh water marsh habitat are highlighted. There are also two fishing piers where you can cast for rock bass, eels, and American catfish.
Lucky for the residents, a huge renovation took place at the park in 2012. It was supervised by the National Park Service. The biking and walking trails are now highlighted on both sides with placards to highlight the history.
There are larger parking lots, a basketball court, a concession stand, new restrooms, a playground, and even new trails. There are also sightseeing piers and fishing piers which you can easily access. This makes the park one of the best areas to relax in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.
This is one area that you must check out if you’re thinking of buying a home in Alexandria.
2. Dora Kelley Nature Park
Though it’s surrounded by urban settings, this 50-acre nature preserve is a gem in the Holmes Run Stream Valley George. It’s a huge birding spot at any time of the year, so the bird watcher in you can truly find a pastime. There are species here like the tufted titmouse and the belted kingfisher. You can just relax and listen to the birds chirping all day if you want.
Another great feature from an economical point of view is the free parking when you arrive. The Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center is located right in front of the entrance to the area. It serves as a jump off point for what the park has to offer. You can find maps and brochures to guide your experience if you’d like.
There’s also a one-mile-long meandering nature trail that leads to an upland oak hickory forest. It has a mountain laurel which is scattered throughout the sub canopy. There is also a park entrance at Sanger Avenue which connects to the Holmes Run Stream Valley Trail. This is a biking/hiking trail that goes around the park.
What’s more, the marsh in the park provides a place for frogs, toads, salamanders, and turtles to breed. In fact, new species are regularly discovered in the park. Just 69 species were discovered in the last year alone! The Park is truly an amazing place to see the bounty of nature.
3. Mount Vernon Trail
The Mount Vernon Trail is not your average park. It is a 17-mile-long paved trail that stretches from The Mount Vernon Estate of George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt Island. It connects to other trailers like the Potomac Heritage and the Four Mile Run.
You can enjoy sweeping views of the Washington skyline when going for a walk, a run, or by bike. The park is open from 6 am to 10 pm and is open for commuters at any time. It parallels the parkway between the Theodore Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon itself.
Even before the Mount Vernon trail, cyclists often used parkways to ride. One lane would be roped off for the exclusive use of cyclists every Sunday of the year. The popularity of the route eventually led to the creation of concrete and barriers in certain places. The National Park Service was lobbied by local civic groups in 1971 and they built a full trail along the parkway.
The trail idea was itself not new, since the Park Service had been trying to get funding for the trail to Gravelly Point as early as 1967.
The best part about the trail is that it connects to other biking trails so well. These are just a few of the connecting trails:
- East Coast Greenway
This is a 3000-mile-long system of trails that connects Maine to Florida. It’s a great trail to go on if you’re planning a very long bike trip with or without friends.
- Four Mile Run Trail
The Four Mile Run Trail is a misnomer since it’s actually 7 miles in length. It begins near the boundary of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. It ends at the South of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
- Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Trail
This trail travels northwest from Arlington County/Alexandria boundary to Purcellville, Virginia.
- Rock Creek Park Trail
This is a paved trail that travels north through the Washington D.C area and Montgomery County, Maryland. The trail ends near Lake Needwood which is accessible through the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
If you’re a biker, this park is perhaps the most important when it comes to buying a home in Alexandria.
4. Huntley Meadows Park
Huntley Meadows State Park is the largest park that is operated by the Fairfax County Park Authority. It is 588 ha in total area. It lies south of the city of Alexandria and is perhaps the most beautiful out of the parks on this list. This is the reason that nearly 200,000 people visit the park every single year. They enjoy the wildlife, the exercise, and the relaxation that can’t be found in the city. This is a great reason to move to Alexandria, Virginia.
The park was handed over to Fairfax County in 1975 by the federal government. After that, the local beaver population quickly returned to the area. Once the bevers returned, they began to change how the water would flow through the land. This way, biodiversity rapidly increased in the area.
As a result, Huntley Meadows Park is home to a lot of diverse wildlife today. Naturally, it has a lot of wildlife observation platforms. The wildlife includes a lot of birds, amphibians, and plants which are less common elsewhere in the region.
Not just that, it has an interpretive trail system and a secondary growth forest. The latter is interspersed with lots of small and native grass and wildflower meadows. These surround the wetland habitat on all sides.
There are of course several bodies of water that flow through the park. The main one is Dogue Creek which is located at the western border of the park. The other one is Barnyard Run, which is the source of the Central Wetland in the park. The last major body of water at the park is Little Hunting Creek.
The park even has a visitor center that offers exhibits to the visitors on the park’s human and natural history. There are also several educational programs for all ages.
5. Mason Neck State Park
This park is a short drive from Washington D.C. Situated in Northern Virginia, the Mason Neck State Park has a range of outdoor activities and programs for the local population. These include the usual hiking trails and picnic areas and playgrounds. It even has a car-top canoe launch and a visitor center. These features really help the park appeal to the local population.
The park is also famous for having a lot of species of the American bald eagle living within its trees. Other species that frequent the park include the great blue heron and the osprey. That’s why a lot of birdwatchers come here to take in the sights of the national animal.
Visitors can also indulge in the region’s favorite guided canoe trips of Kane’s Creek. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of the park. You can even go for a trip to Belmont Bay on the canoes and take in the breathtaking sights of the open water.
The park has plenty of access to wetlands, something it shares with the other parks on this list. The open waters and ponds are attractive to visitors who just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This makes it ideal for environmental study and wildlife observations that many enthusiasts crave.
The park is for day use only and doesn’t allow entry after dark. There is a strict schedule to open up from 10 am to 6 pm. The park is also included in the National Register of Historic Places as a result of two sites. This includes the Taft archaeological site which includes a Protohistoric or American Indian camp that can date back as far as 2000 BC-1560 AD.
The second site is the Lexington site. It is important for being the site for the home of George Mason IV, an active patriot and mentor of George Washington. During excavations, landscape designs resembling his home, the Gunston Hall, were found.
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