Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Kirk Kincannon,
Executive Director

First Hike

2018 First Hike Fairfax Grand Prize Winner

2018 First Hike Winning Photo
Patricia Strat, First Place Winner - Riverbend Park

With 289 votes, your #firsthikefairfax winner is Patricia Strat who captured a winter landscape of Riverbend Park. As the winner, she receives a free 4-month RECenter pass valued at up to $300. And because the race was so close, we awarded a runner-up prize to Jane Durrett for her photo of David Durrett and Harvey Durrett experiencing the joy of Cub Run Stream Valley Park. The Durretts will enjoy a one-month family pass to our RECenters.

We received more than 130 wonderful photographs from hikers at all five locations.

Jane Durrett - Cub Run Stream Valley Trail 2-hires.jpg
Jane Durrett, Runner Up - Cub Run Stream Valley
Park Authority staff chose the Top Ten photos, two from each hike, then these were posted on Facebook where more than 1,134 “likes” were recorded. Check out more great pictures from First Hike Fairfax online in the Park Authority Album First Hike Fairfax - January 1, 2018.

It was a great start – now it’s up to you to stay active all year long Here are some tips:

  • Join your local RECenter and work out twice per week. It’s a community-based low pressure environment. Get advice from our professional fitness staff to help you get started and stay on target. Passes are on sale now at the best price of the year.
  • A great resource for keeping healthy and active is Healthy Strides. Visit Healthy Strides, sign up for the Healthy Strides E-newsletter and download the calendar with monthly healthy tips and activities in the parks.
  • Keep hiking! Visit First Hike Fairfax year round and plan to do all five hikes this year with your family. There you’ll find links to many other great trails in Fairfax County, Virginia state parks and beyond! And as you hike, send us your suggestions for hikes for First Hike Fairfax.



  1. Do a hike on January 1, 2018 on any of the 5 recommended Fairfax County Park Authority trails.
  2. Email us your photos. Submit up to two (2) pictures using the format outlined below to Note: The size limit per email is 10MB – please submit a separate email with one picture attached to each email.
  3. Include in the email subject line:
    • picturetaker’s full name
    • name of park where the picture was taken.
    • the number of your picture (either 1 or 2)
    • (Example: John Smith – Burke Lake Park1)
  4. Include in the body of the email:
    • the picturetaker’s mailing address.
    • the picturetaker’s telephone number.
    • full names of other persons appearing in the photos.
    • (Example: John Smith, 123 Park Drive, Fairfax, VA 22035. Sue Smith, Katrina Smith.
  5. All participants appearing and named in a contest photo and the picturetaker will receive one free RECenter Guest Pass as encouragement to keep active all year long.
  6. All photos will be entered into our First Hike Fairfax photo contest on Facebook for a grand prize!


  • Photos may include landscape, wildlife, or persons.
  • By submitting a photo by email, you acknowledge that you have permission from all people in the photograph and from yourself for the Fairfax County Park Authority to use the photo as stated in the First Hike Fairfax Photo Release listed below.
  • Photographs must not exceed 10 MB per photo. Photos must be JPG, TIFF, or .PNG files only.
  • Minor digital enhancement for cropping, red-eye removal, filters and corrective functions are permitted, but images to be judged are not to be altered in any significant manner or they will be disqualified. Contestants are not permitted to place borders, frames or backgrounds around their images nor place watermarks, dates, signatures or copyright images onto photos.
  • Please submit a separate email with one picture attached to each email.


  • Photographs must have been taken at one of the five First Hike Fairfax locations on January 1, 2018.
  • Photos must be submitted digitally via email to no later than Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at 8pm EST.
  • No more than 2 photos per person will be accepted.
  • Photos posted to social media with hashtag #FirstHikeFairfax are encouraged, but will not be accepted as contest entry.
  • Photos will be reviewed by Park Authority staff and the Top 10 will be posted to the Park Authority Facebook page on January 5.
  • All submitted pictures from First Hike Fairfax will appear online in the Park Authority Flickr album! Select pictures will be posted to Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms.
  • Photo Release: By submitting photographs, contestants give the Fairfax County Park Authority non-exclusive rights including but not limited to advertising, websites, social media, promotions, communications, publications, media relations and commercial resale use. Photo credit and compensation will not be granted except as stated above. Contestants retain their own usage rights.


One free pass per person who appears in a First Hike Fairfax photo or is the picturetaker and whose full name is submitted in the email along with the photo. Passes will be distributed to the picturetaker by mail. The picturetaker must submit a valid mailing address and telephone number in the email submission.

Grand Prize (Photo Contest Winner)

The Grand Prize will receive a free RECenter 4-month pass – a $300 value.

The Grand Prize winning photo will be determined as follows:

  • Park Authority staff vote for the top 10 photos overall, two from each hike.
  • The Top 10 photos will be posted to the Park Authority Facebook page on January 5. The winner will be determined by the number of public “likes” by Monday January 8 at 3 p.m.
  • The Grand Prize winner will be announced via the Park Authority Facebook page by January 9.
Get Directions Lake Accotink Park

Lake Accotink CCT from Lake Accotink Dam North
7500 Accotink Park Road, Springfield, VA 22150

Parking: Park at the large parking lot at the dam, accessible only via the front entrance to the park at 7500 Accotink Park Road. This road comes off Highland Street and is not recognized by some GPS applications. (If entering the park via 5660 Heming Avenue, the distance to the hike’s starting point from the Heming Avenue parking lot is about .2 miles.)

1/1/18 Operating Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset (park grounds only; facilities closed)

Distance: 2 or 3 mile hike options (see below)

Difficulty:  Easy/Moderate

Where to start/stop: Begin at historic marker denoting the Orange and Alexandria Railroad Trestle.  (The marker stands in the shadow of the modern-day train bridge, a short distance from the sharp bend in the park road.)

For the 2-mile hike:
Walk under the train bridge and continue along the asphalt pathway toward the grassy hill that extends along the length of the park road after the bend. (This hill is the impoundment hill for the lake.) Upon reaching the impoundment hill, you may choose to climb the flight of concrete steps that leads straight up, or stay on the asphalt pathway as it follows a gentle uphill grade toward the marina. In either case, you will reach a small picnic shelter, where you turn left and continue along the sidewalk. The lake will be on your left. Continue past the boathouse and amusements area of the park. On your left is a small beach with launch access for canoes and kayaks. At the far end of the beach, cross the pedestrian bridge that leads into the woods. The natural surface trail picks up here, continuing in the same direction going away from the marina.  Continue on this trail until you pass the second informational kiosk heading toward Wakefield Park.  At the first “Blind Curve” sign after this kiosk (you will see a single bench on your left just before the “Blind Curve Sign” which is located on your right) turn around and return to starting point.  You will have completed two miles!

For the 3-mile hike: 
Instead of turning around at the bench, continue past the second informational kiosk toward Wakefield Park.  Continue on this trail.  You will travel across the new part of the trail which is white concrete.  At the second section of new white concrete trail you will see a marker saying “Ribbons of Green Protect our Streams.”  Turn around at this marker and return to starting point.  You will have covered three miles!

Features: Some sections paved, some natural surface. Grade varies from flat to moderate, views of woods and lake.  Both hikes take place along the northern section of the loop trail, which coincides with the GC Cross County Trail.

Highlights:  Lake Accotink Park's 493 acres include a 55-acre lake, wetlands, and streams offering unique views of waterfowl and marsh life. Birds often sighted include bald eagles, blue herons, green herons, white egrets, Canada geese, and mallard ducks.  In warmer months, painted turtles can be seen sunning themselves on logs protruding from the lake bed. The park is also home to deer, foxes, beavers, and several species of snakes.

Helpful Comments: Loop trail users please note: The trail section by the dam frequently floods during rain events and there is no bypass. The park features a 3.8 mile trail that meanders around the lake, with a complete loop made possible by following Danbury Forest Drive to connect back into the park. The southern portion of the loop trail follows the original Orange and Alexandria Railroad track bed.

Get Directions Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Park – Lake Loop Trail
7315 Ox Rd, Fairfax Station, VA 22039

Parking: From the park entrance, bear left and enter the parking lot by the mini golf and go all the way to the back of the lot to park by the amphitheater.

1/1/18 Operating Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset (park grounds only; facilities closed)

Distance:4.68 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Where to start/stop:Start at the amphitheater near the Ice Cream Parlor parking lot and end in the same location. There are multiple points of entry to the trail and places to park. (e.g. lakefront, near the picnic shelters, etc.)

Features: Mix of gravel and concrete, but mostly gravel. Stroller, bike, and dog friendly. Wide paths to accommodate trail users in both directions.

Highlights: Burke Lake Park is just 25 minutes from Washington, D.C. The Burke Lake Loop Trail follows the shoreline 4.7 miles around the lake, with bays jutting out from the main body of water that provide a welcome sense of solitude.

Helpful comments: There is a point where the trail splits and goes towards the woods (left) or by the lake (right). Hikers want to stay to the right and walk by the lake.

Get Directions Cub Run

Cub Run Stream Valley Trail
4630 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly, VA 20151

Parking: Parking is plentiful at Cub Run RECenter, located adjacent to Westfield High School.

1/1/18 Operating Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset (park grounds only; RECenter open 10a-6p)

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Where to Start: Follow the wood chip path past the playground (to the right of the RECenter entrance) to the start of the trail. (For an ADA accessible option, go around the left side of the RECenter, past the water slide.) At the fork in the path, either choose left to go toward Old Lee Road, or right to go toward Stonecroft Blvd. Either direction is ½ mile out. Start out to the left and when you approach Old Lee Rd, turn around to go back the way you came. Pass the path entrance and continue all the way down the path until you approach Stonecroft Blvd. Turn around once again, to double back to the path entrance. You will have covered a 2-mile distance.

Features: Paved. Stroller, bike, and dog friendly. Relatively flat. Wide paths to accommodate trail users in both directions.

Highlights: Scenic bridge and stream (on the path to the right, toward Stonecroft Blvd.).

Helpful comments: This path is paved, but not marked. Since both sides are down-and-back, you stay close to the point of entry at the Cub Run RECenter, which is convenient for bathroom and water stops.

Get Directions Huntley Meadows

The Wetland Boardwalk Trail
3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria VA 22306
The Hike-Bike Trail - 6901 S. Kings Hwy, Alexandria VA 22310

Parking: The Wetland Boardwalk is accessible by parking at the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center located at 3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria VA 22306.  The park entrance is located where Lockheed Blvd and Harrison Lane meet.  The Hike-Bike Trail parking lot is accessible off of S. Kings Hwy, close to where the road intersects with Telegraph Rd.  The address is 6901 S. Kings Hwy, Alexandria VA 22310.  This trail does not connect to the Wetland Boardwalk. 

1/1/17 Operating Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset (park grounds only; facilities closed)


Wetland Boardwalk (& Interpretive Trail):The trail to the observation platform is a total of .6 miles.  Total trail distance (to complete the entire loop) is approximately 2 miles

Hike-Bike Trail: 1.2 miles ( Directions)

*These are two separate trails that do not connect and have separate parking lots/entrances.

Approximate Roundtrip Time:  1 hour, without stopping (Wetlands Boardwalk/Interpretive Trail)

Difficulty: 2 of 10.  Flat, stone dust trail through woods and well maintained boardwalk through wetland. 

Where to Start/Stop: Wetlands Boardwalk Trail:  Once parked, enter along the paved trail at the end of the parking lot.  This will bring you by the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center (hours vary seasonally), and on towards the wetland.

Features: Bicycles not allowed on the boardwalk, but it is stroller friendly.  The Hike-Bike trail is paved and recommended for walkers, runners, and bicyclists. 

Highlights: Huntley Meadows Park has a beautiful, unique wetland habitat with incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, especially for birds.  The park is home to many animals, including herons, egrets, multiple duck species, redheaded woodpeckers, deer, and beaver, among others.

Helpful comments: Dogs are welcome in the park (leashed), but are not permitted on the boardwalk.  If using another GPS device, always enter the street address: 3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22306. The final destination should show the corner of Harrison Lane and Lockheed Blvd.  If a GPS search is made for Huntley Meadows Park, by name, the GPS will almost always send the driver into neighborhoods that dead-end at the edges of the park.

Get Directions Riverbend Park

Riverbend Park – Hollows Trail
8700 Potomac Hills St, Great Falls, VA 22066

1/1/17 Operating Hours: Park grounds are open from 7 a.m. to dusk, hours posted. (Nature Center closed)

Distance: 2-mile loop

Difficulty: 2/5 – The wooded portion of the trail is on a partial incline at some parts, and is not totally level. The shoreline portion of the trail is level and clear. Great for families with children.

Where to start: From the Visitor Center, follow the road (Potomac Hills Street) up back towards the park entrance. You will see the gravel entrance to the Follow the Hollows trail on the left (blazed orange). I found this was easier to find than the entrance on the right, but you can access the trail on either side to complete the loop.

Highlights: This scenic trail through Riverbend Park offers views of both the forest and the river. There are various maps posted along the trail to help track your progress throughout your hike. Additionally, there are several information boards offering educational information regarding local wildlife, etc.

Helpful comments: Although the Follow the Hollows trail is very family-friendly, the forest portion of this hike does not accommodate strollers well. I would not recommend this trail for families with members that require a stroller. However, this trail is very dog-friendly! This would be a great way to exercise your pet, as long as he or she has a leash. If 2 miles is too tiresome for your little ones, you have the option to cut the trail short where the shoreline meets back with the Visitor Center/parking lot. If not, keep on walking! The loop brings you right back out to Potomac Hills Street on the opposite side.