Winter is here and there’s snow and ice on the ground, but that’s no reason to lock yourself at home all day. Sure, we don’t have the slopes of Aspen or Boulder, but there’s still plenty of winter fun to be had in Loudoun that will keep you active and energized.
When there’s fresh snow on the ground, it’s time to take that sled out of the shed and find a hill to race down. There’s no official designated sledding spot at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg but kids and parents love the small hills near the Old Waterford Road and Morven Park section in the northern part of the park. Franklin Park outside Purcellville has its own share of small hills to try, views of mountains and valley all around.
We’re blessed in Loudoun to have two superb ice rinks to show off your skating skills – triple axel anyone? Ashburn Ice House’s two rinks have been a mainstay of both casual and serious skaters for years, with open skate opportunities most days as well as organized lessons and ice hockey games. ION International Training Center in Leesburg has two pro-sized rinks and activities that include open skate for casual day visitors as well as curling and ice hockey. Both facilities have cafés to keep you refreshed and ION even has a popular bar. Stay cool!
There’s nothing so bracing as a hike in the fresh winter air. Algonkian Regional Park on the tree-lined banks of the Potomac River in Sterling has miles of paved and natural trails through woodland and open fields, the highlight a section on cliffs overlooking the water. On very cold days you can watch slabs of ice float down river. Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is a 725-acre preserve south of Leesburg that features more than 20 miles of marked trails through dense woodland in the rolling hills and valleys along Goose Creek. Hike here after a snowfall and you’ll feel like you’re in Sweden or Lapland.
There’s something adventurous and dare we say – romantic – about riding a horse in winter – particularly when there’s snow on the ground. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail is open to horses in certain sections, while both Oatlands Historic House & Gardens and the grounds of Morven Park have miles of back country trails to break into a gallop. If you’re looking for a horse to ride, Chase Run Stable in Hamilton leases horses and offers group and private riding lessons. Just make sure to book well in advance.
Cocoa and Coffee
After all that activity it’s time to get cozy with a warm drink. Sweet Signatures in Sterling makes a deliciously steamy hot chocolate best paired with a slice of homemade tiramisu or treacly lava cake. Several spots on Leesburg’s vibey King Street coffee corridor do great coffee, – SideBar, Shoe’s, King Street Coffee – but we really love the decadent Gram’s Hot Cocoa at Trinity House Café a short walk up East Market Street. Think dark chocolate, hot milk, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and whipped cream. You’ll want winter to go on forever. Over in Lovettsville meanwhile, cozy communal hub Back Street Brews Coffee & Tea House does exceptional espresso drinks using Lone Oak coffee as well as a range of teas. Enjoy your brew on one of the rustic couches in the low-slung log cabin annex. Perfect.