Many of my favorite memories from childhood revolve around my pastel colored bicycle. Bike riding provided a type of freedom as a child that I craved, and this love has carried into adulthood. With 2 older children that are pretty good at riding, I was patiently waiting for my baby to be old enough to pop in the seat attached to my bike. Mason Neck State Park was the choice for our family bike ride on a beautiful fall day.
This past weekend was our first family excursion with baby in tow, on our bicycles. And Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Virginia was the perfect location to go ride and be outside to enjoy the beautiful fall scenery. Mason Neck State Park, along with Pohick Bay is tucked into the corner of Fairfax County, Gunston Hall to be specific. It’s right next to Lorton, and just down route 1 from Woodbridge. A quick turn onto Gunston Hall Rd. and you feel like you are way out in the country. You will pass some large horse farms that look straight out of the movies.
If your children are older and can handle a longer ride, I recommend actually parking at a pullout on Gunston Hall Rd. and riding on the awesome paved trail into Mason Neck Park. Seeing as this was our first attempt with the baby seat, we actually drove a little further, into the actual park and nature preserve, to park at the trail lot. Your other option is to drive all the way to the education center on the water, and park there.
The best biking is done on the High Point multi-use trail. It is rated easy, and is paved which makes for great riding. The awesome thing about this trail with kids is that it is pretty much flat, just a few rolling hills, and you basically have the trail to yourself, even on a beautiful fall day. In over an hour on a Saturday, we only had one other cyclist pass us. With that being said, I wouldn’t ride this trail alone for obvious safety reasons.
Along the High Point trail are a few picnic tables as well as restrooms. At the Visitor Center you will find rangers ready and willing to answer questions, some interactive displays, and life size bald eagle statues. There is a children’s learning room with lots of items for them to feel and touch, as well as some aquariums with fish and frogs. Outside of the visitor center has bird houses set up which make for great viewing, And if you are lucky you will spot some Bald Eagles on your trip. Take some time to look at beautiful Belmont Bay, it offers some peace and quiet from the business of Northern Virginia. Looking for other weekend outdoor fun, check out my guide to Great Falls hiking with kids.
Though exploring the refuge is restricted to established nature trails, you’ll find that these winding forested corridors are rich in nature and history. Visitors to the refuge can enjoy hiking our 4 miles of trails to view birds and other wildlife, or simply enjoy the solitude.
Download the bird list (pdf)
Hours of Operation
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge is open year-round, including federal holidays, from 7AM – 5PM October 1- March 31 and 7AM-7PM from April 1 – September 30. Staff temporarily closes the refuge during managed deer hunts in November and December. Call the headquarters office or check this website for scheduled closures.
The park is in southern Fairfax County, about 20 miles from Washington, D.C. Access to the park is via U.S. 1, then five miles east on Route 242 (Gunston Road) to the park entrance.
Its address is 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079-4010
OVER TO YOU
Have you been to Mason Neck? Where else do you go biking in Virginia? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
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