Winter Offers Outdoor Fun in FCPA Parks
With snow on the ground, parks offer inviting vistas and a muted environment just right for passive enjoyment of nature and the season. However, some folks want to get active and take advantage of the hills that beckon sledders and the trails perfect for a variety of winter activities! It may be winter, but it’s still time to play!
The Fairfax County Park Authority maintains a number of trails within its park system for hikers, bikers, exercisers, equestrians and nature explorers. Many of these become excellent ski trails when sufficient snow has fallen. The public is invited to make use of these trails; however, skiers must furnish their own equipment and engage in this activity at their own risk. Many of the county’s parks are also suitable for sledding. Sledders must also furnish all of their own equipment and engage in this activity at their own risk. Ice skating on ponds and lakes is prohibited for safety reasons.
The Park Authority would like to remind citizens that sledding and skiing are prohibited at golf courses in Fairfax County. This includes the following golf courses: Burke Lake in Fairfax Station, Greendale in Rose Hill, Jefferson District in Falls Church, Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Oak Marr in Oakton, Pinecrest in Alexandria and Twin Lakes in Clifton.
Some of the best trails for cross-country skiing are:
- Accotink Stream Valley Trail (entrances at Rt. 50 south service road, approximately 3/4 mile east of Fairfax Circle; Eakin Community Park, 3400 Prosperity Avenue; and at 8509 Tobin Road, Annandale). This trail follows the Accotink Creek from Rt. 50 approximately 2.4 miles south to near King Arthur Road. Flat and wide, the trail provides an excellent area for beginners to practice their skills.
- Burke Lake Park (7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, off Burke Lake Road). This 4.5-mile hiking trail circumvents the lake along gently rolling terrain, with fine lake vistas and glimpses of wintering waterfowl. Skiers may also enjoy the 890 acre park’s Beaver Cove Nature trail, a 7/10-mile loop through woods and fields, past the lake. NOTE: Burke Lake golf Course is not open to cross-country skiers.
- Huntley Meadows Park (entrances at 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Hybla Valley and at 9601 South Kings Highway, Alexandria). The largest park in Fairfax County, Huntley Meadows’ 1200 acres of suburban wilderness is a prime habitat for white-tailed deer, beaver and fox. Skiers of all levels will enjoy a variety of trails on gentle terrain. Trail information and updated wildlife sightings are available at the Visitor Center. Call them at 703-768-2525.
- Lake Fairfax Park (1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston, just off Rt. 606). Skiers will find a variety of scenic terrains to explore at the 476-acre park. Wooded areas are flanked by open meadows with both steep and gentle hills. Streams flow through the park to the lake. Suitable for skiers of all levels.
- Mason District Park (6621 Columbia Pike, Annandale, approximately two miles east of Little River Turnpike). The 121-acre park features a self-guided nature trail, offering the combined pleasures of skiing and wildlife discovery. The hilly one-quarter mile loop trail includes a stream valley, meadow, pond and woodlands. The park also has other trails and ample open space of varying topography.
- Riverbend Park (Jeffery Road, Great Falls, north of Great Falls Park). View of the Potomac River, silent woodlands and animal tracks in the snow are all part of the skiing experience at Riverbend Park.
- Wakefield-Accotink Trail (entrances at Wakefield Park, 8100 Braddock Road, Annandale, and at Lake Accotink Park, 560 Heming Avenue, Springfield). Skiers entering the trail from Wakefield Park will find approximately two miles of wide, level trail along Accotink Creek. The Lake Accotink entrance offers an elevated, hilly one-mile trail through the woods that border the picturesque lake.
There are more than 400 parks in our system on nearly 23,000 acres of parkland owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority. However, the parks with the best sledding hills include:
- Mason District Park
- Jefferson Manor Park
- Cardinal Forest Park
- Greenway Heights Park
- Westgate Park
Other parks with sledding hills include: Brookfield Park, Burke Lake Park, Canterbury Woods, Crooked Creek Park, Franconia Park, George Mason Park, Lakeside Park, Marie Butler Leven Preserve, Nottoway Park, Stringfellow Park, Surrey Square Park and Wood Glen Lake Park.
The Park Authority reminds citizens that sledding and skiing are prohibited at all County golf courses in Fairfax County. Sledders must furnish all of their own equipment and sled at their own risk.