An Easy Side of Moderate and Very Beautiful 6 Miles in Fraser Preserve!
Fraser Preserve is a 220-acre tract of mature woodlands and floodplain some 14 miles northwest of Washington in Fairfax County.
The Fraser Preserve boasts about 110 species of birds, including the bald eagle, and 300 varieties of wildflowers. A hike offers glimpses of the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region, including clear fast streams, lush cold-spring swamp, marsh, mature hardwood forests, open meadow, ponds, river and stream floodplain forests and thickets, steep rocky bluffs, springs and seeps, and various stages of old field succession. The terrain slopes toward the Potomac River, which forms the northern boundary of the preserve.
Among the mammals known to live here are the mole, eastern chipmunk, gray squirrel, woodchuck, skunk, raccoon, whitetailed deer, fox, and beaver. Several species of turtle found here, including the wood turtle, usually live farther north. There are many amphibian species present, including the southern leopard frog, spring peeper, gray tree frog, American toad, two-lined salamander and northern red-backed salamander. The Fraser Preserve has about 110 species of birds, including 39 nesting species and the bald eagle. Among the nesting birds are the red-shouldered hawk, ruby-throated hummingbird, downy woodpecker, scarlet tanager, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. The tremendous variety of wildflowers at Fraser may be directly attributed to its diverse habitats. About 300 species of wildflowers have been identified in the preserve; of special interest are the following unusual or rare species: purple cress, marsh marigold, purple fringeless orchis, false (white) hellebore, and poison hemlock.
Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Great Falls
Scenery: Woodlands, river views, remnants of 200 year old canal
Length: 6 total miles
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Exposure: Mostly shady; less so in winter
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Easy
Duration: 3-3.5 hours
Trail Surface:Chiefly dirt, some gravel; rooty, and can be muddy in places.
Local Maps: USGS Seneca, Vienna
Topo Map: Fraser Preserve Topographic Map
Access: Call Preserve Manager Before Visiting
We hike rain, snow, or shine! Click here for up to the minute weather information for the trailhead.
If you can drive or want to carpool from any locations such as the DC area, please post your location and needs in the comment section below. Click here for suggested carpool locations complete with directions. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!
Directions to the Trailhead
Click here for directions to where we meet for this hike
Hike Meetup Time is 10:00 a.m.
Click here for suggestions for what to wear and what not to wear for our hikes.
Please remember we are a social hiking group that values fellowship and camaraderie and practice good hike etiquette. We take breaks as necessary and have at least one guide in the front in addition to a "sweeper" in the back which means that no hiker is left behind. If you get upset because someone has to rest at the top of a hill etc. then find another group! We are very supportive, encouraging, and focus on safety while getting or staying fit on the trail and practicing Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.
The Nature Conservancy has a nationwide policy prohibiting pets on all preserves, so Fido is Not Allowed