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Self Care Outside

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Self care looks different for everyone. Finding ways to unwind, breathe for a moment, and get centered can come in many different forms.  One thing to try as spring comes closer is to take your self care outside with a hike. One of the best parts of NOVA is the fact that, despite all the traffic and chaos, short hikes and pieces of nature are not far away.  Here is a list of local hikes and some information about the access, the difficulty of the hike, and other attractions surrounding it. Happy trails to you!

Right here locally we have Accotink Park and Burke Lake Park. These are two great loops you can walk with kids.  Accotink Park has a great place to do paddle boats, carousels, mini golf and a playground too so you can make this an entire afternoon. Burke Lake has a playground as well as Frisbee golf, a train you can ride during the peak seasons and a carousel.  Again, you can just park and walk around the lakes or you can enjoy some of the extras. Pack a picnic and make it a day! You can make these as long or as short of a hike/walk as you want. Around Accotink (lake only) is about 4 miles and around Burke Lake (lake only) is about 4.5 miles.

Similarly, Huntley Meadows is a great one too. You have some options here. You can park and walk through the woods, over boardwalks and really see some wildlife. There are dirt, paved, and boardwalk trails to explore.  Walk about one mile in and climb the tower to see over all the marsh/wetland. Trails wind and bend so there is plenty to explore.

Huntsman Park in Springfield has a great little playground in the entrance. If you walk past the playground there are some fun loops around Huntsman lake to explore. You can take a quick one right around the playground or go out a bit further and circle around the lake.  You can use the address 9150 Dorothy Lane Springfield to check it out.

Hidden Pond Park in Springfield is fun for a more family/smaller kid outing. There is a playground and a Nature Center to explore. There are some smaller trails around the pond there as well – fun to explore and see for shorter hikes and bits of outside fun. 8511 Greeley Blvd Springfield will get you to the Nature Center.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve in McLean, VA!  It’s a light hike that only takes an hour, great for dogs and kids who can’t handle longer or more steep climbs.

For a fun little trail – try Lake Royal. The trail around Lake Royal is nice and has 2 playgrounds around it and soccer fields and a baseball field. The loop around the lake is two miles around.  Use 5344 Gainsborough Drive Fairfax on the GPS.

Another option for a smaller loop is Mason Neck. They have combinations of longer and shorter treks with lots of wildlife to view. You can see more about the trails there by clicking this link.

Fountainhead Park has numerous trails that you can explore.  Look at the fun trails here!  

Now if you want to trek out a bit check out:

Roosevelt Island – This is such a fun place to explore and learn a bit of US History along with it. Cross over the footbridge and take the big loops around the island. Or choose to cut it in half by going through the memorial and seeing all the inspiring quotes and history there.  And in the summer you can splash a bit in the fountains (no standing but little hands and feet can certainly splash and kick!)

Rock Creek Park – This is such a gem in the middle of the city. Park at any access point and walk around and explore.  Of course we always end up at a Cupcake Shop in DC when we are done – because #balance. PS for cupcakes we loved Baked and Wired in Georgetown. A MUST HAVE!  Trails here follow along the creek and on the weekends the roads are blocked off so it is actually a great place to bike and not worry about traffic!

Consider Great Falls.  Here there are miles of trails and of course – waterfalls.  You can pick a map up when you enter to help you pick the best hike for your family. Remember there is a parking fee $5/vehicle!

Hopefully this list gives you some variety of trails to explore in the coming months.  Take a second and disconnect from your phone and connect with nature - I do not think you’ll regret it!


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