Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
Located in western Fairfax County, Ellanor C. Lawrence Park was established to preserve large areas of open space, protect natural and cultural features and provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities for the public.
Visitors will find a unique experience whether visiting to bird watch, hike, exercise, discover the natural and cultural history of the land, picnic, participate in organized sports, attend an educational program or just relax.
The park's grounds are open daily from dawn until dusk. For more information about the park's features and programs, visit the links or contact us at 703-631-0013 or TTY 703-803-3354.
Visit our Ask A Naturalist Page for FAQs or to ask a specific question.
The park's 650 acres are home to:
Walney Visitor Center
Walney Visitor Center is a public park facility which offers educational exhibits, programs and information to over 30,000 visitors per year. Situated in a converted 1780 farmhouse, the center contains an information desk, rest rooms, sales area, live animal exhibits, historic exhibits, children’s touch table area, greenhouse and classroom.
Groups are welcome to explore the Walney Visitor Center and Ellanor C. Lawrence Park on their own. If you plan to bring a group to explore the park on your own without a park guide, please let us know in advance when you wish to come by calling 703-631-0013 (TTY 703-803-3354) during business hours.
Walney Visitor Center Hours
|9-5, closed Tuesdays||12-5||11-4, closed Tuesdays||11-4|
|*Winter Hours = December, January, February >>> HOLIDAY HOURS|
The Fairfax County Park Authority has owned the land that
comprises Ellanor C. Lawrence Park since 1971. Development of
facilities began in 1980. Most of the land that is now the park was
once part of a farm called Walney. For the two hundred and thirty
years from the time that farming began here until the Park
Authority was given the land, it remained in the ownership of only
three families: Brown/Lewis, Machen and Lawrence. Today, exhibits
and programs educate patrons about the natural history of the park
and tell the story of those families and the American Indians that
were here before them.
Read More >>
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is located in the Piedmont region nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the coastal plain of Northern Virginia. Situated in the Culpeper Basin, the park is characterized by Triassic red bed soils in the western and central portions and thermally metamorphosed sandstone in the east. The elevation of the park is between 225 and 370 feet above sea level. The landscape is relatively flat except for the steep slopes associated with the stream valleys.
The long history of interaction between the land and its people has
affected the ecosystems in the park. Ecosystems consist of upland and
bottomland forest, streams, meadows and a pond.
Read More >>
Plants and Animals
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is home to many species of plants, birds,
mammals, reptiles and amphibians. View Reptile and Amphibian videos
or Ask A Naturalist questions about the park.
Read More >>
Athletic Fields, Trails, Picnic Area and Amphitheater
Ellanor C. Lawrence Park has a state-of-the-art athletic turf field
complex for year round playing; 4 miles of trails of varied surfaces
for hiking, bird watching, jogging, walking and bicycling; a picnic
shelter and an outdoor amphitheater.
Read More >>
Middlegate Complex and Cabell's Mill
The Middlegate Complex and Cabell’s Mill are located near the meadow along Big Rocky Run and Walney Road. It is believed that the mill was built as early as 1769 but no later then the early 1800s. There are records indicating that there was another mill located within close proximity to Cabell’s Mill. This mill was built by Willoughby Newton in about 1746. Middlegate served as the miller’s house and was probably built in the early 1800s. At various times, the mill was used as a grist, sumac and saw mill.
In 1944, the Middlegate-Cabell’s Mill property was purchased by Ellanor C. Lawrence. She and her husband David used the property as a country retreat from the social and political influences of Washington D.C. Middlegate served as the Lawrence’s residence when they visited the property. The mill was used to entertain guests and friends during various functions.
The Park Authority renovated Cabell’s Mill and Middlegate in 1979-80. The mill became a rental facility of the Historic Properties Rental Services. Middlegate is currently used for park administration and maintenace offices, a caretaker’s apartment and a maintenace shop. Middlegate is closed to the public.