Let's start 2017 off on the right foot with a hike at Mason Neck State Park!
BONUS: Sign up for the First Day 2017 Hikes Challenge and Photo Contest! See the link in the Notes section below.
The route: From the meetup point, after a brief out-and-back walk along Beach Trail, we’ll basically do a big clockwise loop around the park. Starting east along Kane’s Creek Trail, we’ll connect to Eagle Spur Trail and hike out to the bird blind on Kane’s Creek and see if any eagles or herons are out and about. From there we’ll retrace our steps to Kane’s Creek Trail, connect to Wilson’s Spring Trail and head southwest to cross the road that enters the park. Turning right, we’ll follow the multi-use trail up to the south parking lot, playground and picnic area. (There are restrooms and an opportunity to cut it short at this point.) From there we’ll head southwest for a 1-mile loop around Bayview Trail, then continue northeast along the shoreline to the Visitor Center to complete the hike.
The hike is about 5 miles and should take about 2 hours at a moderate pace. The surface is mostly gravel and dirt trails, occasionally a little rooty, with gently rolling hills and a few boardwalked dry creek crossings on Eagle Spur Trail. The trails along shoreline of Belmont Bay have steps and boardwalks here and there. Overall, this is a pretty easy hike, with a bailout point along the way.
Google map: http://tinyurl.com/nbplnjb
How to get there: The park is in southern Fairfax County, about 20 miles south of Washington DC, and just east of US-1/Richmond Hwy. From US-1/Richmond Hwy (either direction), take VA-242 E/VA-600 E/Gunston Rd and drive east for 4.4 miles. Make a slight right onto High Point Rd and drive another 2.4 miles. Take another slight right and drive 0.4 miles to the parking lots in front of the Visitor Center. See https://goo.gl/maps/8DjjosdiL8A2
Sorry, this is not a Metro-accessible hike.
What to bring: Water, comfy shoes, and your furry friend if desired (leashes, please). Make sure to wear the layered look! I'm sure it will be chilly until we get moving.
Cost: Free! Parking fees are waived for the day. The first 50 guests in the park will receive a free bumper sticker. The park opens at 8 am.
Weather: The forecast is partly cloudy and a high temperature of 52F, with a very slight (<3%) chance of showers. Updates here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjcckm
Advisory: As a reminder, this is an adult group, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being during events. No one under 18 years of age is allowed at this event, either as members or as guests, to include babies in carriers and/or strollers.
Administrative stuff: There are restrooms at the Visitor Center and near the south parking lot and picnic area. Please see the Google map.
• Mason Neck State Park, 7301 High Point Rd, (703)[masked]. http://tinyurl.com/pmqqh98
• First Day Hikes 2017 New Year Challenge and Photo Contest: http://tinyurl.com/zfxjh2x