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Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Audio Transcript

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is 650 acres of surprises.

ECLP is a gorgeous gathering of nature, culture and recreation in western Fairfax County. The next time you drive by the intersection of I-66 and Route 28, take a little time to peek at the park.

Inside the park, you’ll discover the Walney Visitor Center, where you can learn about natural and cultural history through exhibits, publications and programs. There are live animal displays and an area for kids. You also can be part of interpretive programs for the general public, for scout and school trips, and by special arrangement.

The Walney Visitor Center was originally a farmhouse, built around 1780, near the time of the Revolutionary War. Its name comes from the farm that was there, and some of the outbuildings from those farming days are still at the site.

There’s excellent hiking at ECLP. You can wander across about four miles of trails and try your hand at orienteering on one of them.

Among the other park pleasures you’ll find are a garden, a pond, streams, a forest and some meadows. Bring a lunch for a stop at a picnic table or the picnic shelter. There also are fields for soccer, baseball and softball. Route 28 runs through the park and divides the ballfields from some of the natural resource areas.

History buffs, don’t miss Cabell’s Mill inside the park. Here’s an example of 1780s architecture. The Park Authority renovated the mill in 1980, and you can rent it for a reception, a party or a business gathering. Contact the Historic Properties Rental Services.

We haven’t forgotten the children. Arts in the Parks programs, a series of Saturday morning shows for children, take place in the summer at the outdoor amphitheatre, which also is available to rent.

Check the park’s website for the visitor center’s hours. Also on the website, you can find a little park history and learn how the founder and publisher of U.S. News and World Report, David Lawrence, deeded the land to the Park Authority. The park’s named in memory of his wife. Learn more on the website’s Park History link.

On other links you’ll find information about the park’s natural history, including its streams and meadows -- the birds, fox and coyote of the area -- flowering plants and mammals of the park -- and reptiles and amphibians.

Check out the links to scouting programs, field trips and summer camps. Details about the hiking trails also are on the website.

And don’t miss the link to the park calendar of events,  and get information online about holding a birthday party at the park.

The park’s address is 5040 Walney Road in Chantilly. The phone number is 703-631-0013.

Now it’s up to you to come explore the park and find your own surprises.

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