Mason Neck State Park

The Mason Neck Conservation Committee was formed in 1965 after two bald eagle nests were spotted. The committee, concerned about impending development on the peninsula, recommended part of the area to be used as a site for a state park. In August 1967 the commonwealth began purchasing land parcels from The Nature Conservancy.

Mason Neck
Mason Neck

Mason Neck State Park is on a peninsula formed by Pohick Bay on the north, Belmont Bay on the south and the Potomac River on the east. The park attracts migrating and non-migrating species of birds, including tundra swans, herons, assorted species of duck and bald eagles. The park consists of several hundred acres of hardwood forests. Several wetland areas are also found at Mason Neck State Park.

The park is in southern Fairfax County, about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. Access to the park is via U.S. 1. From northern Virginia the drive time is approximately 30 minutes from Washington, D.C., 45 minutes; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, three hours; Richmond, one and a half hours; Roanoke, four hours.

Mason Neck is a day use park and has no overnight facilities.

Mason Neck offers hiking, biking and self-guided trails. Four miles of unpaved hiking trails and three miles of paved multi-use trails wind through the park providing a glimpse of nature by the bay. Elevated walkways allow visitors to explore some of the marsh areas in the park. Ten bicycles are available for rent by the hour.

Fresh and brackish water fishing are available, however, you must have a valid Virginia or Maryland fishing license. There are no facilities for boat launching via trailer. From April through October, kayaks and canoes are available for rent, an hour or all day, to explore Belmont Bay or Kane’s Creek – a great way to see eagles.

Other attractions the park offers include: hunting, festivals, workshops, a visitor center.

The park’s environmental education center has a gift shop with park-oriented merchandise and souvenirs. Educational programs include pond study, bird-watching, canoe trips, active volunteer program, night hikes, teacher workshops, hands-on experiential educational opportunities, and evening programs.

Programs include:
Your Backyard Classrooms program is a 40-activity curriculum guide for K-12 teachers
Junior Rangers: Junior Rangers is a day-long program for children 7 to 10. It offers hands-on environmental education that covers stewardship and strong conservation, recreation and protection ethics. Several sessions with varying themes are held each summer. Contact the park for dates and fees.
Wee Rangers: Wee Rangers is a two-hour program for children 4 to 6 with accompanying adults. It’s a fun, hands-on introduction to the natural world. Several sessions with varying themes are offered each summer. Contact the park for dates and fees.

Accessibility include: Picnic area with handicapped accessible restroom facility; fully accessible playground; six handicap parking spaces; a fully accessible paved hiking trail.
For more information about Mason Neck State Park,contact (703) 339-2385 or (703) 339-2380 (visitor center); email [email protected]

Leesylvania State Park Nature Filled and Historical

Located at 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive in Woodbridge VA 22191, Leesylvania State Park opened its 542 acres of land in 1992, being surrounded by the Potomac River, Powells Creek and Neabsco Creek. Situated in the South Eastern area of Prince William County is just 25 miles away from Washington DC and Fredericksburg.

With the history of Leesylvania State Park on ‘Freestone Point’ referring to the sandstone used for building by early settlers, the land itself was a section of the Leesylvania Plantation. Robert E. Lee’s father Colonel Henry Lee III or ‘Light Horse Harry’ was raised on the land. Although the residence was burned down somewhat in the 18th Century, their family gravesite remains intact.

Activities offered:

  • Camping: Group camping is permitted and only small tents are allowed on the campground.
  • Trails: With 5 trails suited for hiking with scenic nature and historical filled ambiance, hikers can also enjoy viewing the Potomac as well as the remains of a Civil War Confederate gun battery.
  • Fishing: Angling is abundant with largemouth bass, catfish, perch and striped bass as long as Anglers have a Maryland or Virginia freshwater fishing license.
  • Swimming: Swimming is not allowed because of the boat activities, but with the half mile of sand beach on the Potomac River, visitors can enjoy wading, walking or simply sunning on the shore.
  • Picnics: 1 open area and 4 large picnic shelters are available through reservations.
  • Visitor Center: Historical and Nature displays are showcased at the Center along with a gift shop and education on environment programs are held.
  • Snack Bar: An array of snacks of sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, drinks are available here, including souvenirs, groceries, gas, bait and tackle and the like.

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Prince William Forest Park Protecting Nature’s Blessings

With a history of logging and over-cultivation, 17,000 acres of Prince William Forest Park is now home of tranquility for nature’s blessings where families and friends can visit. Located 32 miles away south of Washington DC and 22 miles north of Fredericksburg, Prince William Forest Park was also named as Chopawamsic Recreation Demonstration Area years ago, carefully shelters the federally threatened orchid Isotria medeoloides, a small whorled pogonia and the Eastern Box Turtle which a type of reptile with the longest life span as well as many other species.

Wildlife

Bird watching for migratory birds and songbirds can be anticipated. A complete list of bird species can be availed at the Visitor Center. But birds aren’t the only animals to be seen. Deer, Beavers and even wild turkeys can be sighted in this beautiful forest.

Fishing

As long as you have a Virginia fishing license, anglers can take a shot at fishing for catfish, crappie, pickerel, perch bluegill and even bass. State and federal regulations are strictly imposed while fishing licenses are not sold at the visitor center.

Hiking

37 miles of trails can be explored within the park offering visitors a tranquil and calm ambiance for variety of purposes such as vigorous activities, nature study or perhaps just a moment to be alone.

Bicycling

Keep a guide handy from the visitor center where information on restrooms, water, parking as well as paved and unpaved roads and you are set to enjoy 21 miles of bicycling with nature blessed scenery.

Picnicking

Picnic areas are allotted with tables, grills, trash bins, water and restrooms.

Education

Programs are held by rangers for those wishing to focus more on the study of the environment.

The most favored option of exploring and discovering Prince William Forest Park’s history is by taking a hike on the 4 mile geology trail that showcases geologic change within its 570 million years. Schools can even have trips arranged for their students on give children an on hand study of their lessons and to mold them into being environmentally responsible.