Local NOVA Hikes for You

Today we chat Local NOVA hikes for you and your family! As PowerFull Fitness works to “flatten the curve,” we are also seeking ways to engage in practices that promote physical and mental wellbeing. Being at home and out of our normal routine can be challenging and our goal at PFF is to provide you with some relief as you work through these next few weeks.

Enter: PFF goes OUTSIDE.

The post below is from a few years ago and it serves us well today. We are avoiding malls and gyms and restaurants but we do not have to avoid outside trails and walking paths! So take a second and check out this post that has tons of local hikes with varied levels of ability. These recommendations are from your PFF ladies so they are tried and true! And if you have something you want to add – please let us know!

Please note: Some of these recommendations include options for playgrounds, paddle boats and other fun activities. I left those notes in the blog for you for future use but for the purposes of flattening the curve, stick to the trails for now!

Let's go take a hike

Parks close to NOVA:

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 play ground 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.

Side note:  we live in Springfield and if you park on Carrleigh Parkway in Springfield and walk into Accotink from there – in a very short distance you’ll run into a train bridge. We often sit there around 5:00 pm and wait for the VRE and Amtrak trains to pass under us – super fun! And then from there you can explore the paved path (steep and winding) down to the lake and walk anywhere you’d like!


Similarly, Huntley Meadows is a great one too. You have some options here. You can park and walk through the woods, over board walks 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.

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. We usually just park anywhere and have the kids 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!


Likewise, I can’t mention hikes without talking about Great Falls.  Here there are miles of trails and of course – water falls.  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!

In addition, I decided to take this a bit further and asked all my PowerFull Fitness families for their favorite parks and I learned of even more!!

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


Tara mentioned Green Springs Garden:  We love Green spring Gardens. Not much of a “hike” really I guess but a fun walk by the ponds, through the woods and the gardens!  Check it out here!  I haven’t done this one so I’m adding it to my list to try!

Karen added to Green Springs with River Farm.  This one looks like a super fun summer visit too! My list is growing!


For a fun little trail – try Lake Royal. I have done this one and it does have some fun playgrounds along the way!  Maggie says:  The trail around Lake Royal is nice and has 2 playgrounds around it and soccer fields and a baseball field. Not really a hike,but 2 miles around.  Use 5344 Gainsborough Drive Fairfax on the GPS.


Eileen says:  I have taken my kids – wagons, bikes, strollers – to walk from the National Harbor over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and into Old Town Alexandria. This is a path I run at 5am with friends when we can, but it’s a great walking, stroller, bike friendly trial. I’d say from the National Harbor all the way to Old Town is about 4 miles (so keep that in mind).

If that’s too much for the day, a nice walk is just from the harbor to the bridge. The top of the bridge overpass has historical pictures, benches and looks outs on it. If you go the other way and start in Alexandria under the bridge, there is a nice rubber grounded park there, basketball courts and places to ride bikes and scooters and really really nice BATHROOMS under the bridge!

I will add – we take our kids on their bikes under the bridge all the time for practice!


Leeann mentioned the Aquatic Gardens. I have never tried this one either – adding to the list! Leeann says they are in bloom in July and mostly flat. I definitely wanna do this!  You can see more about the Gardens here – they even have festivals!  

From the website, “Hiking, birding, photography, painting, and more are possible. While trails are short (less than a mile each way) and do not loop, there are benches to enjoy the views and invite you to linger. Birding is excellent all year. Many come by canoe to explore the marsh.  Small picnics (no cooking) are allowed in the park so one can relax while a friend is photographing lotus.  Friendly dogs are allowed in the park, but must be on a leash at all times.”


Leeann and Sarah also mentioned Mason Neck. You can see more about the trails there by clicking this link. I haven’t tried this one yet but have heard great things!


Sarah also added Fountainhead Park as her fave!  Look at the fun trails here!  I am not going to STOP hiking all summer!


Heather and Tara both mentioned the nature center, Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center. You can see it here.  Outside the nature center is Dora Kelley Nature Park (scroll down the link to see it). The website says, “Just outside the Nature Center lies Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail that meanders along streams, wooded hills, and freshwater marshland.”


One thing I especially love about NOVA is the fact that with all the traffic and chaos and business – we can slip into nature and get a little breath of fresh air. In these next few weeks – that need to get out and get moving may become more and more of a necessity for us and our kiddos. I hope this list helps you.

Happy trails to you!


Need community in social distancing times? Join PFF today to be a part of our virtual workouts, LIVE, during regularly scheduled times.