It’s healthy to get out into the fresh air, and Loudoun has plenty of parks and trails to give those hiking boots a good workout. From the woodland paths and riverfront views of Algonkian Regional Park and Ball’s Bluff Battlefield to the rollercoaster ups and downs of Bear’s Den Overlook on the Appalachian Trail above Bluemont, we list the six best hikes in Loudoun to put a spring in your step and the best places to stop for a treat after.

 

Waterfront

Algonkian Regional Park

Located on the banks of the Potomac River in Sterling, Algonkian Regional Park features 838 acres of outdoor adventure with paved and natural surface hiking trails. The trails run through wooded areas and open fields and rises to cliffs with beautiful views of the Potomac. There are 12 rustic winterized rental cabins within the park if you want to hang around for blazing sunsets or bright sunrises. Dogs on leashes most welcome.  

Where to Stop

Fortify yourself after your hike at family-owned Urbano Modern Italian, recently opened in the Cascades Overlook precinct and bringing modern twists to old world Italian classics. Don’t miss the Tuscan roasted pork loin.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park

Located on high banks above the Potomac River north of Leesburg, this regional park contains one of the smallest National Cemeteries in the nation, burial place of soldiers who died in the infamous Battle of Ball’s Bluff on October 21st, 1861. The park offers a one-mile hiking trail with interpretive signs, which take you through open ground, past the cemetery through woodland to high bluffs overlooking the river, spectacular views all around.

Where to Stop

Local favorite Leesburg Public House is the ultimate gastro pub: large centerpiece bar, stylish booth seating and delectable American classics from ribeye steaks and grouper po’boys to juicy cheeseburgers. A stellar wine list too.

Beverdam Reservoir Trail

Part of the NOVA Parks system, this park and reservoir sprawls across 600 acres with a winding six-mile circular trail along its shore and through dense woodland. You’re in the suburbs but a world away. Accessible year round, the trail is primarily used for walking and nature trips and dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash. There is also kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and fishing, the lake stocked with several species of bass and trout. Cast from the banks or hop into a non-gas boat to get the big ones out in the middle. A Virginia fishing license is required.

Where to Stop

The restaurants and bars of Brambleton Town Center are minutes away, including wine-centered fine dining temple AhSo and family friendly Blue Ridge Grill with its classic crab cakes, steaks, prime rib and ahi tuna.

Land

The Appalachian Trail

Make your way to Bear’s Den off Route 7 in the Blue Ridge Mountains above Bluemont and hike the short but strenuous Loudoun stretch of the Appalachian Trail – known as Virginia’s Rollercoaster. Bear’s Den has spectacular views from high rocks of the Shenandoah Valley to the west, pine trees all around. On the other side of Route 7, above Round Hill, the trail leads you down the mountain along a set of stones that form a natural staircase leading to the Blackburn Trail Center log cabins. A rustic 1910-built lodge, it’s a refreshment station for hikers and available for rent outside of peak season.

Where to Stop

After your exertions, grab a refreshing beer at B Chord Brewing, a 66-acre farm brewery on slopes of the Blue Ridge. Food-wise head over to spacious German-style eatery More Better in the Hill High Marketplace on Route 7 for superb Bavarian-inspired dishes such as breaded pork schnitzel. 

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve

This little-known, 725-acre nature preserve south of Leesburg features more than 20 miles of marked trails through dense woodland in the rolling hills and valleys along Goose Creek. Hikers will see a diverse range of forest wildlife and natural flora, protected due to the Nature Preserve designation. In 2016, goats from Willowsford Farm were guided through the preserve to manage unwanted vegetation.

Where to Stop

Head to downtown Leesburg, a 10-minute drive away, where streets are lined with chic boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants. Try King Street Coffee for your espresso fix, Senor Ramon Taqueria for modern Mexican and King Street Oyster Bar for fish and chips, cocktails and good wine.

Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park

Probably the best-known trail in the county, this 45-mile park – the narrowest in Virginia – runs from Sterling in the east to Purcellville out west on the bed of the old Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. While you can horseback ride it in sections, it’s best for cycling or hiking, particularly the flat stretch between Hamilton and Purcellville, beautiful farm fields all around.

Where to Stop

Purcellville at the end of the line has a slate of vintage stores (Re-Love It; Nostalgia Boutique), ice cream parlors (Gruto’s Soft Serve; The Tipped Cow), artisanal bourbon (Catoctin Creek Distilling Company) and great restaurants, chief among them farm-to-fork favorite Magnolias at the Mill just steps from the W&OD Trail.