Monday, February 03, 2014

It's For the Birds (and Walkers, Hikers and Runners): Mason Neck State Park

Yesterday, we did a relatively short trail run through part of Mason Neck State Park. I hadn't really heard much about the park, but I'd spotted it on Google Maps and have been curious about it for some time now.

The park's claim to fame is birding. A number of the trails lead to bird blinds, and there are active Bald Eagle nests in the park. Confusingly, there's also a Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge, which is located right outside the park, and also offers some trails and birding opportunities. In fact, the wildlife refuge is free, whereas the state park is $5.00 to get into.

What the state park trails lack in mileage they make up for in quality. Seriously, it's among the best marked and maintained trails I've ever been on (and it had one of the nicest and well informed park rangers I've ever met at the gate). You can put all the trails together for 5+ miles of hiking or trail running if you get creative. In theory, you can also add in the trails from the neighboring wildlife refuge. The short and well marked trails make this an excellent spot to take kids or non-hikers.

Yesterday we did the Meadow Trail, which was quite muddy. This made for an adventure that was about half running and half slogging through slippery slop. But the scenery was gorgeous and more than made up for the impeded progress.

Our plan is to head back to the park and cover more of the trails. I'd also very much like to head to this park on a day when I can just plop myself in a bird blind and wait. I'm absolutely positive that given an hour or two, I'd be see and or hear some amazing things.

View Mason Neck - Meadow Trail in a larger map

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