Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe 2020 is finally over. In spite of the unprecedented circumstances, I’m proud of our little family for getting outdoors as much as possible and finding magical new places to socially distance. As a matter of fact, we are currently on a two-night getaway, which was my Christmas gift to my husband. I will write about this trip in the coming week or so, but first I want to discuss the state park we explored a few days ago.
In case anyone is wondering, my daughter and I are still very much on a state park kick. We are loving our new VA Annual State Park Pass, and we decided to put it to use for the third time this past Monday. Our destination: Mason Neck State Park.
Boasting over 1,800 acres in Lorton, Virginia, Mason Neck State Park sits along the mouth of Belmont Bay shortly before it flows into the Potomac River. The majority of its nine trails are less than a mile and a half in length, and seven of those trails are ranked as “easy” (with the remaining two listed at “moderate”). The park’s main road runs parallel to the High Point Multi-use Trail, a fully paved pathway that is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. These factors combine to make Mason Neck State Park a great spot for little hikers.
When we arrived, we parked by the playground and walked toward the water to find the Bay View Trail, which is a 1.02 mile loop. If you only have time to hike one trail in the park, definitely do this one. When facing the water, you will see its two trailheads on the left.
In my opinion, it is best to enter the trail at the first trailhead, because if you head in this direction, you will be treated to beautiful views and fun places to explore on the second half of the loop.
If you go the other way first, it makes the second half of the loop a little more anticlimactic. The first trailhead also boasts an awesome climb-through tree trunk right near its entrance that you might not notice if you’re coming from the other direction.
In any case, the Bay View loop is part dirt trail and part boardwalk. If you go the way we did, it winds through the forest before leading to a scenic overlook of a picturesque inlet.
Eventually, the trail leads down to the water and traverses a series of boardwalks that connect the mainland to a tiny island.
My daughter had a great time running up and down the boardwalks and exploring the island’s shoreline.
As we continued on our loop, we were pleased to still have lovely views and fun trail features for the remainder of our hike. After we returned to our starting point, my kiddo was excited to find the playground deserted. She played for a good long while before it was time to leave.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Mason Neck State Park. Its water features, accessible trails, and pretty location make it a great family destination in southwestern Fairfax County. We’ll be back!
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