Huntley Meadows Park, VA Trails Recon
Huntley Meadows Park
in southern Fairfax County, VA for an upcoming
POPUMC Hiking Group
hike. I had hiked here back in the late 1980's but had forgotten most of the trails in this park since that time.
A quick history of this area thanks to
George Mason, the main author of the Virginia constitution and who helped influence the U.S. constitution, owned this area of land since the mid 1700's. His grandson built Huntley Mansion on this property in 1825. The Mason family owned much of this land until the early 1900's. Among other uses this parcel was a dairy farm. It then went through numerous owners. The U.S. Government bought it in 1941. At one point beavers built a dam on Barnyard Run within the borders of this land. It flooded and the area then became wetlands. In 1975 the U.S. Government sold the land to Fairfax County for $1. The county has since restored the Huntley Mansion, built a boardwalk over the wetlands and has made many improvements to this park. Huntley Meadows Park is the largest park in terms of acreage in Fairfax County, VA at 1,452 acres.
So I did the 45 minute drive to Huntley Meadows park, then hiked the loop trail there. It was only rated at 2 miles. They have a nice looking visitors center at this park. Unfortionately, it was closed due to COVID-19. However, there were portapotties in the parking lot. Now, the maps are not very good for this park. And my
app did not work because cell service was spotty. So I got lost once. There is a loop within the big loop that has 2 ways to go on it, neither are blazed or signed. I stood at the intersection and vascilated for awhile. Then I saw a guy birdwatching. I asked him if the trail to the left went back to the visitors center. He said: No, you have to take the loop around to the boardwalk and walk back on it. So I did that and it worked. However, when I got home I checked that map and he was wrong. I should have turned left and taken the trail back to the visitors center. At least I know now.
The weather was nice. Low 40's when I started, high 40's when I finished and mid 50's later in the day. There were a lot of people on the trail today. They were mostly retired individuals like myself, birdwatchers, both amateur and professional photographers, moms and their kids and even a teacher and her class. It's interesting in that, when I was younger, people wanted to drain wetlands or swamps, bring in fill dirt and build things on them. Nowadays the trend is to leave the wetlands and celebrate them as they attract a wide range of biodiversity that benefits mankind. Amazing.
So the loop went well. There are other neighboring trails that one could combine with the boardwalk loop. The park literature says that this park has 10 miles worth of trails. But they are not interconnecting. One inaccuracy of the park map was that it looked like the Huntley Mansion was on a trail .9 miles north of the park. But that is not so. There's a trail that goes from the park to the mansion. However, it goes north parallel to the park entrance road for about .5 miles, then west about for about .4 miles along Harrison LA to get to the mansion a few blocks away. Even though this loop was only 2 miles I thought that the terrain and the scenery were unique and that this would make a good hike for the POPUMC Hiking Group.
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