6 Beautiful Boardwalk Hikes in Northern Virginia

Explore 6 beautiful boardwalk hikes in Northern Virginia on trails close to nature and unique wetland habitats near Washington DC. All of these boardwalk trails are level and easy, and many are stroller and wheelchair accessible.

2020 Update: By late May, all of the boardwalks on our list are open to the public. However, it is very difficult or impossible to maintain 6 feet of distance from other walkers on a narrow boardwalk bordered by water. We suggest choosing other natural and paved trails in Northern Virginia until social distancing requirements are lifted.

We have always loved a nice boardwalk. You get close to nature, often over interesting watery habitats, and your feet stay comfortably dry. Because they are short and level, boardwalks are ideal for a leisurely stroll. And these wooden trails are perfect for children, who can study the plants, birds, and nature around them in a safe environment.

Information on location, fees, accessibility, and dog regulations for each of the boardwalk hikes in Northern Virginia are listed here. We also link to detailed planning guides for all of the parks and trails on our list. Be sure to check ahead for closures after winter snowstorms.

Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria

Huntley Meadows
Huntley Meadows in summer

One of our favorite hidden gems in Northern Virginia is the fantastic half-mile boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park. Birds, amphibians, insects, beaver, and deer all make there home here and we have seen them all from the boardwalk. In fact, sometimes beavers build their dens right on the edge of the boardwalk.

Stop in the Visitor Center to learn about the history and nature of the park. Then, follow the dirt Heron Trail for a half-mile to the start of the boardwalk. Both trails are stroller and wheelchair accessible. The boardwalk crisscrosses the wetland offering lots of interesting views. Climb the Observation Tower (or take the ramp to the lower level) for a sweeping view of this unique hemi-marsh.

The main entrance to Huntley Meadows Park is at 3701 Lockheed Boulevard in Alexandria, and parking and admission are free. A dirt path to the boardwalk, and the boardwalk itself, are stroller and wheelchair accessible. Dogs and bikes are not allowed on the boardwalk.

Plan your visit with our complete guide: Huntley Meadows Park Wetlands and Boardwalk Trail.

Neabsco Creek Boardwalk Hike

Neabsco Creek Boardwalk Trail winds over the wetlands in Prince William County Virginia
Neabsco Creek Boardwalk Trail winds over the wetlands in Prince William County Virginia

One of Northern Virginia’s newest wooden trails is a beautiful three-quarter-mile boardwalk in Prince William County. The trail traverses the marshy wetlands at Neabsco Creek, with views of Occoquan Bay in the distance.

The trail has some gentle slopes but it is an easy walk. There are a few benches where you can relax, and two platforms (near the midpoint and at the eastern end) for enjoying a broader view. This is a beautiful spot for bird-watching, and you can extend your hike on connecting trails.

Park at Neabsco Regional Park, 15125 Blackburn Road, Woodbridge to reach the boardwalk. Parking and admission are free. There is a portable bathroom at the site. The boardwalk and the paved path that leads to it are stroller and wheelchair accessible. Leashed dogs are allowed.

Plan your visit with our complete guide: Neabsco Creek Boardwalk Trail Hike in Northern Virginia

Theodore Roosevelt Island, Arlington

Theodore Roosevelt Island boardwalk hike is surrounded by green in summer
Theodore Roosevelt Island boardwalk trail

Here’s a boardwalk hike right at the edge of busy Washington DC. In fact, Theodore Roosevelt Island is on DC land, but the only access is from Arlington, Virginia. Park at the free lot on the George Washington Parkway (access from northbound lane only) and walk across the footbridge to explore this interesting island.

To reach the boardwalk, follow the Woods Trail on an uneven dirt surface that is not wheelchair accessible but would be okay for sturdy strollers. The Swamp Trail boardwalk begins right next to the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. The pathway cuts gently over the marshland, offering excellent views of the surrounding flora and birdlife. There are benches along the way where you can stop for a picnic or enjoy the view.

At the end of the walkway, take the short path to the edge of the river and a nice view of Georgetown. After your boardwalk hike, head up the hill to explore a plaza and statue honoring Theodore Roosevelt.

Access the parking lot for Theodore Roosevelt Island from the northbound side of the George Washington Parkway, just past the Memorial Bridge. Parking and admission to the island are free. The island trails are not wheelchair accessible, though a sturdy stroller will be okay as long as the trails are not muddy. Leashed dogs are allowed on all island trails.

Plan your visit with our complete guide: Explore the Surprises of a Theodore Roosevelt Island Hike.

Bayview Trail, Mason Neck State Park

Marsh boardwalk Mason Neck SP
Marsh boardwalk Mason Neck SP

Bird lovers, hikers, and families will find plenty to do on the Mason Neck State Park. The park sits at the edge of Belmont Bay and features interesting wetlands and creeks to explore. One of the prettiest easy hikes in the park includes a nice stretch of boardwalk trail.

Stop at the Visitor Center to pick up a map and learn about the wildlife that frequents Mason Neck Peninsula. Then, take an easy one-mile loop hike on the Bayview Trail. The dirt trail becomes boardwalk as you pass over wetlands at the edge of the bay. Views are particularly nice when fall foliage colors the trees.

After your hike, you can explore other trails in the park and visit nearby sites on the peninsula. We highly recommend the half-mile, wheelchair-accessible Great Marsh Trail, which leads to a beautiful marsh view.  In summer, rent a kayak or canoe to look for wildlife from the water. History lovers will enjoy a tour of nearby Gunston Hall, the family home of George Mason.

Mason Neck State Park is at 7301 High Point Road in Lorton. Admission to the park is $7 weekdays, $10 weekends. The Bayview Trail and boardwalk are not stroller or wheelchair accessible. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park but not inside the Visitor Center.

Plan your hike with our complete guide: Mason Neck State Park: Nature and Outdoor Fun in Northern Virginia

Mount Vernon Trail and Dyke Marsh Trail, Mount Vernon

Dyke Marsh boardwalk in spring
Dyke Marsh boardwalk in spring

The Mount Vernon Trail is one of the popular bike trails in Northern VA, and one section includes a beautiful boardwalk perfect for a stroll.  Park at Belle Haven, just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the scenic George Washington Parkway, and you can hike the boardwalks over the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve.

The 7.-mile Dyke Marsh Trail begins as a dirt pathway that skirts a marina and the edge of the Potomac River. This is a popular area for birding or a nice, easy hike with kids. Stop to enjoy views across the river to National Harbor. and of boats in the marina. The final section of the trail is a lovely boardwalk that leads to a platform and more pretty views.

After you exit Dyke Marsh, head left (south) on the paved Mount Vernon Trail. In just a bit the trail becomes a long stretch of boardwalk over another section of the wetland. Enjoy the views and a stroll, before you turn back and return to the parking area.

Park at 616 Foxcroft Road in Alexandria to reach both Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve and the Mount Vernon Trail. Parking and admission are free. The Mount Vernon Trail is paved and wheelchair accessible, but Dyke Marsh is not. Leashed dogs are allowed on both trails.

Plan your hike with our complete guide: Dyke Marsh and Mount Vernon Trail Hike.

Stone Bridge, Manassas National Battlefield, Chantilly

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

A short but pretty boardwalk near the historic Stone Bridge at Manassas National Battlefield is ideal for a stroll and a little bird watching. Park at the free Stone Bridge lot and walk down the dirt trail and across the bridge. This was a critical site during the first major land battle of the Civil War, the First Battle of Manassas (aka the Battle of Bull Run).

Cross the bridge to reach a straight stretch of boardwalk over a field that is sometimes flooded by nearby Bull Run. You can explore the boardwalk as part of a nature-focused loop trail that’s great for hiking with kids. At the end of the boardwalk, the trail turns right and climbs a hill, then follows Bull Run back toward the parking area on a dirt trail. (Or hike the loop in the other direction to finish at the boardwalk and bridge.

After your hike, relax with a glass of Virginia wine at The Winery at Bull Run, right next door. The winery also has an interesting history and there is a pretty tasting barn, and two outdoor areas—for adults only and for groups with children.

Reach the boardwalk from the Stone Bridge parking area on Lee Highway (Route 29) in Centreville. Parking and admission are free. There is a wheelchair accessible and stroller-friendly path to the Stone Bridge, but the bridge itself is not accessible due to its steep slope. Leashed dogs are allowed on all park trails.

Plan your visit with our complete guide: Manassas National Battlefield and The Winery at Bull Run.

The six boardwalk hikes on our list all offer a close-up view of nature and a nice place to relax. Whether your goal is a hike with kids, a solo stroll, animal and bird-watching, or a fun outing with friends, there’s a boardwalk on our list for you.

If you know another great boardwalk in Northern Virginia or have tips on the boardwalks listed above, please let us know in the comments below. Thanks and happy hiking!

     

Explore 6 beautiful boardwalk hikes in Northern Virginia to get close to nature and unique wetland habitats near Washington DC.

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