Huntley Meadows Park
Welcome to Huntley Meadows Park
Nestled in Fairfax County's Hybla Valley, Huntley Meadows Park is a rich, natural and historical island of over 1,500 acres in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia. It harbors a nationally significant historic house, majestic forests, wildflower-speckled meadows and vast wetlands bursting with life.
Some of the best wildlife watching in the Washington metropolitan area is enjoyed here. From the ½ mile wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower, people have excellent views of beavers, frogs, dragonflies and herons. Huntley Meadows is well known as a prime birding spot, with over 200 species identified in the park.
Whether you come to hike, wildlife watch or simply to relax, Huntley Meadows Park will provide you with a premiere nature experience.
Wetlands: A Natural Treasure
Huntley Meadows lies in a wet lowland carved by an ancient meander of the Potomac River. The resulting freshwater wetland is one of the most rare habitats left in Fairfax County. Acre for acre, a healthy wetland supports more life than almost any other habitat. Wetlands also purify polluted waters and control the destructive power of floods and storms.
In colonial times, this land was part of the extensive plantation holdings of George Mason IV. Thomson Mason, a grandson of George Mason, built a home on the property in 1825. The villa, now known as Historic Huntley, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Virginia Landmarks Register, and the Fairfax County Historic House Inventory. An exhibit of Historic Huntley is available online. Mason family ownership lasted into the late 1800s, with track of the land being sold to other farmers. The house, along with a large portion of land, was sold to Albert W. Harrison who converted the grain farm to a dairy operation.
In the late 1920s, entrepreneur Henry Woodhouse reassembled many of the parcels, purchasing 1500 acres from 10 landowners. He dreamed of transforming Hybla Valley's dairy farms into a dirigible base. After he lost nearly all of the property, the federal government acquired the land. During the 1940s, the Bureau of Public Roads tested asphalt road surfaces. The Virginia National Guard's Battery D, 125th Gun Battalion used the land to provide anti-aircraft protection for the nation's capital during the 1950s.
Finally, the Navy conducted highly classified radio communication research before declaring the land surplus circa 1970. President Gerald Ford signed 1,261 acres over to the citizens of Fairfax County for use as a park in 1975. Under the Federal Legacy of Parks Program, the County paid only one dollar for the land. In 1992 the Fairfax County Park Authority, with financial assistance from Ducks Unlimited, purchased an additional 165 acres of adjacent wetland and upland. Huntley Meadows Park is currently 1,557 acres.
History is a Mystery at Historic Huntley
It's easy to let your imagination run away with you at Historic
Huntley, the newly-restored villa once owned by Thomas Francis
Mason, grandson of Founding Father George Mason. Perched atop an
imposing hill at Huntley Meadows Park, the wondrous structure built in
1825 overlooks a massive expanse of what was then farmland, and
features a large main room flanked by four identical side rooms with
fireplaces and separate entrances.
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Friends of Huntley Meadows Park, and Friends of Historic Huntley are two not-for-profit comunity groups that are devoted to preserving and protecting the natural and cultural resources of Huntley Meadows and Historic Huntley. For more information and membership application, call the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center or visit them online.