8 Great Spring Hikes in Northern Virginia Near Washington DC

Explore 8 great spring hikes in Northern VA for beautiful views, interesting stops, and fun outings close to Washington DC. These are the best easy spring walks in the area because they fill with spring blooms and generally don’t get too waterlogged.

Spring hikes are an excellent antidote to the dark days of winter when the air was too cold and the trails were too icy to tempt us. When warmer spring weather arrives, we look for trails that can stand up to rain and snowmelt. These spring hikes in Northern Virginia offer nice views and interesting stops along the way.

These 8 great spring hikes in Northern Virginia cover 3 to 5 mile walks, over easy to moderate terrain. Some of the hikes are stroller friendly, and one is wheelchair accessible.

1. Potomac Heritage Trail at Riverbend Park

The Potomac Heritage Trail at Riverbend Park is one of the best spring hikes in Northern VA for an easy walk in nature. In early April, the sandy trail is bordered with a profusion of beautiful Virginia Bluebells. The delicate blossoms cover the ground and fill the woods with color. This is an excellent family hike, with an easy trail and lots to see.

Above the trail, white Sycamore trunks stand out against blue skies, while birds swoop over the Potomac River. Bluebells are a highlight, but you’ll also see trillium, mayapple, and other wildflowers beside the trail. Take our guide, Spring Wildflowers and Where to Find Them in Northern Virginia, along and see how many varieties you can find.

The trail at Riverbend is level and close to the river except for a 600-yard cutback that takes a steep detour over a bluff. Begin your hike at the Riverbend Park Visitor Center, which offers educational displays and restroom facilities.

Bluebells surround the Potomac Heritage Trail at Riverbend Park
Bluebells surround the Potomac Heritage Trail at Riverbend Park
Virginia wildflowers at Riverbend Regional Park
Virginia wildflowers at Riverbend

Looking for cherry blossoms without the crowds of the DC Tidal Basin? Check out our insider’s guide to Where to See Cherry Blossoms In DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

2. Bluebell Trail at Bull Run Regional Park

As the famous cherry blossoms fade, Virginia Bluebells take over. The beautiful Bluebell Trail at Bull Run Regional Park is another of the prettiest spring hikes near DC. The easy 1.5-mile loop borders two streams—Cub Run and Bull Run—and overlaps with the northern end of the Bull Run Occoquan Trail (BROT). The trail is ideal for a short kid-friendly hike, but easy to extend with a longer and more challenging hike on the 19-mile BROT.

Virginia Bluebells generally emerge in late March and reach peak bloom in early to mid-April. Hikers on the Bluebell Trail walk through a sea of the gorgeous pink and blue blossoms, which surround the path on both sides. Long boardwalks over a marshy area at one end of the loop offer more to see. With free entry, ample parking, and plenty of spots to picnic and play, Bull Run Park makes a lovely day trip from Washington DC.

If you love wildflowers, add the stunning Trillium Trail Hike to your list.

Bluebell Trail loop hike
Bluebell Trail loop hike
Virginia bluebells at Bull Run
Virginia bluebells at Bull Run

3. Washington & Old Dominion Connector and Meadowlark Gardens

The Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Connector Trail, which opened in 2014, is a paved 1.25 pathway linking the W&OD bike trail to beautiful Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. This is a beautiful spring hike when your efforts are rewarded with blooming cherry trees along the trail and in the park. Crabapple and magnolia trees also line the trails with spring blooms.

The connector is very steep as it approaches Meadowlark Gardens, so you’ll get a good workout. If your outing includes strollers or children, you’re better off parking at Meadowlark to hike the more forgiving trails inside the garden and near the lot. The small entry fee to Meadowlark is well worth your access to more flowering trees and plants along the pond and throughout the gardens.

Find more family-friendly trails in our guide Wheelchair Accessible and Stroller Friendly Trails in Northern Virginia.

W&OD Connector Trail cherry blossoms near Meadowlark Gardens
W&OD Connector Trail cherry blossoms
Flowering trees on the Perimeter Path at Meadowlark Gardens Vienna VA
Flowering trees on the Perimeter Path at Meadowlark Gardens Vienna VA
Meadowlark Botanical Garden cherry blossoms Vienna Virginia
Meadowlark Botanical Garden cherry blossoms Vienna Virginia

4. Burke Lake

The 4.5 mile trail around Burke Lake makes our great hikes list in every season. In spring, the wide dirt and stone-dust loop trail stays relatively dry even after a storm. Birds are especially active as they battle for a mate. Trees and flowers are vibrant in their new green colors.

The path around the lake is mostly level so it’s a good option for families and is also a popular bike trail. A paved portion of the trail is wheelchair accessible and offers ADA-compliant fishing platforms. In early April, a scale-model train ride and carousel began weekend operations, so there is extra fun if you’re hiking with kids. Return in Autumn to enjoy Burke Lake surrounded by colorful fall foliage.

Burke Lake Trail in Spring
Burke Lake Trail in Spring
Burke Lake Park offers family-friendly biking in Northern Virginia
Spring biking at Burke Lake Park

5. Theodore Roosevelt Island

Theodore Roosevelt Island offers one of the best spring hikes close to Washington DC. In fact, the island is technically part of DC, but the parking and access are in Virginia. The trail can be muddy after heavy rains and when the Potomac River floods. Even then, the island offers an easy spring walk with interesting sights.

Roosevelt Island trails are popular with birders, joggers, families, and workers out for a break. Hikers enjoy dirt paths, a long boardwalk, and interesting history at the plaza that tops the island. Follow the mostly level Swamp Trail to see wetland birds and peeks of DC across the river. Then climb the low hill to see the park memorials to Theodore Roosevelt (a good picnic spot).

Return in late spring and summer to see the wetlands transformed into a green oasis.

Roosevelt Island Swamp Trail
Roosevelt Island Swamp Trail
Roosevelt Memorial plaza on Theodore Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Memorial plaza Arlington VA
Theodore Roosevelt Island boardwalk in Arlington Virginia
Theodore Roosevelt Island boardwalk in Arlington Virginia

6. Glade Stream Valley Trail and Walker Nature House

The Glade Stream Valley Trail and Walker Nature House, in Reston, combine a paved path along a wetland and a fun nature center. The Glade stream was improved to reduce flooding and erosion, and it’s now a lovely spot for spring hikes. Keep an eye out for eagles, foxes, and other wildlife in the wetland.

Begin your hike at Twin Branches Road and follow the signs that point toward Hunters Woods. This route adds some hills to your walk. Alternatively, you can park on Soapstone Road and enjoy a level section of the paved path that is stroller and wheelchair-friendly.

Dirt trails through the woods connect to the Walker Nature House, which offers information about local nature, along with bathrooms and a water fountain.

Glade Stream Valley Trail
Glade Stream Valley Trail
Kid's area at the Walker Nature Center in Reston VA
Kid’s area at the Walker Nature Center in Reston VA

The nearby Lake Thoreau Loop Trail in Reston is another nice option for a spring hike in Northern VA.

7. Manassas National Battlefield

Many of the trails at Manassas National Battlefield cross open fields that were the scene of the Civil War battles of First and Second Manassas. That makes them a good choice in spring before the heat, humidity, and ticks of summer arrive.

Take the First Manassas Loop Hike for a fascinating walk through history. Or enjoy a shorter easy walk on the long boardwalk near the historic Stone Bridge. A third option is to explore the area near the Visitor Center on Henry Hill. Manassas is beautiful now, but a walk across the battlefields gives visitors a deeper appreciation of the difficult conditions and battles fought there by patriots from the north and the south.

Manassas Battlefield loop hike
Manassas Battlefield
Boardwalk near the Stone Bridge Manassas Battlefield NP
Boardwalk near the Stone Bridge, Manassas Battlefield

Explore the region with our guide to Prince William County Virginia Sites for History and Hiking.

8. Huntley Meadows Park

Explore a unique hemi-marsh on the Huntley Meadows Park hike, a hidden gem in the Fairfax County Park system. The wetland is perfect for a spring hike when the plants, animals, and birds emerge from their winter naps. Walk the 2-mile loop trail from the Visitor Center through the woodlands and over the beautiful marsh boardwalk.

You may see resident beavers and deer, and you are sure to see turtles and a great variety of birds. On one visit beavers had built their dam over part of the boardwalk, offering a close-up look at nature. The Observation Tower is a lovely place for a picnic and to enjoy the view. After your hike, stop in the Visitor Center to learn more about the unique nature that calls Huntley Meadows home.

Huntley Meadows’s wide stone dust trail and boardwalk are stroller-friendly and ADA compliant.

Find more unique and surprising places to visit in our guide: 20 Must See Northern Virginia Hidden Gems Rich in Nature and History.

spring break outing at Huntley Meadows Virginia
Spring break outing at Huntley Meadows Virginia
Beaver dam covers part of the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park in Northern VA
Beaver dam covers part of the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park in Northern VA
Photographers at Huntley Meadows Park Northern VA
Photographers on the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park

BONUS: Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is a good choice for a spring hike devoted to solitude and reflection. To really appreciate the magnitude of our nation’s heroes and loss, we recommend a long walk on the streets throughout the cemetery. In spring, you’ll see beautiful blooming cherry trees and haze-free views of DC, and the paved streets are usable even after heavy rain.

Arlington Cemetery is not a place for play. Picnicking, jogging, and biking are not allowed, and visitors should use decorum in this solemn place. Venture beyond the main bus stops, and take time to honor the heroes at rest in this beautiful and heart-breaking cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

These spring hikes in Northern VA are a fantastic opportunity to see the changing season. Return to these hikes throughout the season to see the views transformed as green returns and blooms emerge. Whichever spring trail you choose, you will find something new to see on every outing.

Plan a whole season of spring outings with these related articles:

Thanks for visiting and happy hiking!

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The best Spring hikes in Northern VA for beautiful nature, interesting stops, and fun outings close to Washington DC.
The best Spring hikes in Northern VA for beautiful views, interesting stops, and fun outings close to Washington DC.

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8 thoughts on “8 Great Spring Hikes in Northern Virginia Near Washington DC”

  1. Love all these. While living in Culpeper we covered the Manassas Battlefield several times. Wish we would have known about Glade Stream Valley in Reston.

  2. I would probably add Great Falls in here as well. Henk and I were there last October and it was a great place for trails and hiking.

    • Yes, Great Falls is a fantastic place to hike. We include it on our Summer, Fall, and Winter round-ups so decided to include some alternates for Spring. The River Trail at Great Falls is one of our favorites, but it can be pretty muddy in Spring. Still a beautiful choice year-round. Thanks for leaving your tip Jane!

    • Thank you Kristin! There is so much incredible history in the Northern Virginia area. I love the opportunity to learn something new while I’m out enjoying nature. Happy hiking to you!

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