Photo Credit: @vanipop
With a seemingly endless calendar of potential events to attend — not to mention constant stimulation from the screens surrounding us — you might have friends who struggle to find the temptation in reserving time in their busy schedules for a nature walk. Hiking is perhaps one of those activities that your group “really wants to do”... and keeps really wanting to do until the same time next year. Well, National Take a Hike Day is November 17th, and we’re here to tell you that you can be that friend who says, “Guys, this weekend, it’s happening — we’re going for a hike. Who’s in?!”
Every Loudoun landscape tells a unique story. However, there are certain little ecosystems we love to revisit again and again, knowing there will be an extra chapter or a new character each time we dive back in. Whether your crew is up for full-on heart-thumping terrain or a casual stroll along the Potomac River, just grab your sweatshirts and head off to the woods for the best little autumn day trip in Northern Virginia. Plus, after a wholesome wander through your natural habitat, you can reward yourselves with a well-earned glass from DC’s Wine Country or celebratory pint from the LoCo Ale Trail. (Don’t forget that this weekend is also Virginia Cider Week!) Fall is the ideal season for your group to branch out and have an outdoor adventure along Loudoun’s top ten hiking trails. So, what are you waiting for?
Take a hike, pal!
Situated on the Potomac River in Sterling, Algonkian offers 838 acres of outdoor adventure with paved and natural surface hiking trails. The park includes natural wooded areas, open fields and beautiful views of the Potomac River. Bring the dog, or children! Here you’ll find stunning sunrise and sunset views, lots of wildlife and peaceful scenery.
Preserving the site of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, this park offers a one mile hiking trail with interpretive signs. The national cemetery here is one of the smallest in the country. Don’t miss the amazing view of the bluff itself, which overlooks the Potomac!
The property includes 122 acres of passive parkland with access to the Potomac River and Goose Creek at the non-motorized boat landing at Kephart Bridge Landing in Lansdowne (43942 Riverpoint Dr). The park is home to the historic Elizabeth Mills canal lock system and contains a section of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail!
Enjoy winding, authentic nature trails and wooded areas at Red Rock Wilderness Overlook in Leesburg. Along the 1.2 mile loop, you’ll find several historic buildings and numerous varieties of native plants and wildlife. Climb to the overlook to take in panoramic views of the Potomac River and distant foothills. This “out of the way” park offers trails ranging from moderate to strenuous, as well as peace from the hustle and bustle surrounding it.
Explore 295 acres along the Potomac River in historic White’s Ford Regional Park. Once the home of Elijah White, this riverside park is the site of the confederate army’s 1862 crossing into Maryland. Launch your canoe or kayak into the Potomac River, or follow miles of hiking trails guided by interpretive signs.
Stretching over 2,000 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the AT enters Virginia along the western edge of Loudoun County where it soon ascends and descends about a dozen times, earning the nickname “Virginia’s Rollercoaster.” The AT can be accessed from Route 7 at Bears Den Overlook and Pine Grove.
This pesticide-free, 725 acre nature preserve features over 20 miles of trails through various habitats among the rolling hills along Goose Creek, ensuring that visitors have ample opportunity to observe the diverse wildlife population. All plants, animals, habitats and cultural resources are protected due to the Nature Preserve designation. In 2016, goats from Willowsford Farm were guided through the preserve to manage unwanted vegetation by eating it!
Eleven miles of hiking trails take you through woodlands, wildflower meadows, wetlands, and ponds – a peaceful walk in the woods perfect for bird watching or taking photos.
Enjoy an equal mix of pristine nature and local history at Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg, Virginia. Walk 68 acres of wooded trails through unspoiled meadows and forests in the nature sanctuary. Register for the Fresh Air Kids Nature Program and other Audubon Naturalist Society courses to learn about local ecosystems, flora and fauna. The sanctuary also features Rust Manor House, and a beautiful garden with majestic trees.
A popular 45-mile trail in Northern Virginia, the W&OD runs from Shirlington to Purcellville and offers a paved path the entire way. In Loudoun, you can catch the trail in Sterling, Ashburn, Leesburg or Purcellville. The former Washington & Old Dominion Railroad roadbed runs through urban heartland and the Virginia countryside — the best of both worlds!