Updated on May 9, 2023 by Julie McCool
Take a scenic Leesylvania State Park hike with beautiful Potomac River views, wooded trails, and interesting historic sites in Northern Virginia. The park, located on the edge of the Potomac River in Prince William County, is also a fun destination for boating, fishing, picnicking, and an epic sunrise over the water.
Leesylvania State Park is a popular destination for fishing from the accessible pier and along the beach and shoreline. Visitors also enjoy excellent boating, with canoe and kayak rentals available in season.
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Fun fact: you can visit two states from the Leesylvania fishing pier. The pier begins in Virginia but crosses the Maryland border about a third of the way out. The border is marked with a sign and it's a fun spot for photos with a foot in each state.
Leesylvania State Park is only 25 miles from Fairfax, Washington DC, and Fredericksburg, and is a wonderful year-round, day trip destination.
Leesylvania State Park Hike Overview
Hiking trails in Leesylvania highlight the park's fascinating history and natural beauty. Leesylvania was the ancestral home of the Lee and Fairfax families, and the location played an important role during the Civil War.
Our 2-mile Leesylvania State Park hike follows the Lee's Woods Trail through historic sites and lovely woods with commanding views of the Potomac River. The well-signed trail passes the ancestral home sites of two famous Virginia families—Lee and Fairfax. Marked sites near the trail include the homes, a Lee family cemetery, a Confederate gun battery, and a former railroad bed with an interesting history.
In addition to all that history, the trail passes through mature woods and climbs a bluff to a commanding view of the Potomac River and Neabsco Creek. During our hike, we heard the whistle of trains passing over bridges and tracks that bisect the park; a fitting echo of the site's history.
Leesylvania State Park Hike Details
To reach the Leesylvania State Park hike, follow the entry road all the way to the end and park in the last lot. Walk past the monument in the cul-de-sac until you reach a large map that makes the start of the trail.
The hike begins with a short but steep climb past a small amphitheater to the first section of the trail, which is made up of two loops with a short connecter section. Turn right for the short climb to Freestone Point.
Freestone Point at Leesylvania
Freestone Point was the site of a Confederate gun emplacement during the Civil War. In the early years of the war, General Robert E. Lee ordered a blockade of the Potomac to cut off the Union's access to Washington DC. The 32-pound cannons positioned here were part of a series of batteries that effectively blockade the Potomac for five months. Freestone Point has a commanding view over the Potomac and the park's fishing pier.
In the distance, colorful houses sit next to a railroad bridge over the mouth of Neabsco Creek. If your camera has a good zoom you can catch cool shots of trains as they cross over the bridge.
More Lee's Woods Trail Historic Sites
After a short distance on the main trail, turn left to head clockwise around the loop (you can go either way). Soon you'll pass a restored chimney, which marks the site of the Fairfax family home. Henry Fairfax purchased the property from the Lee family in 1825 and lived here until 1910.
The trail continues to the site of the Lee family's ancestral home, where Henry Lee II raised eight children. One of those children was Light-Horse Harry Lee—Revolutionary War colonel, Declaration of Independence signer, Virginia Governor, and father of Robert E. Lee.
Nothing remains of the home, but soon you'll see a marker for the Lee family cemetery where Henry and his wife Lucy Grymes were buried.
Next to the cemetery, take a short walk down the path to an interesting overlook. Landslides and derailments plagued the Alexandria and Fredericksburg Railroad that once passed through here.
The Lee Woods Trail passes through mature woods on a wide dirt trail throughout the hike. In one section, signs mark plants that “escaped” from the Lee family garden and continue to grow in the woods. Once you complete both sections of the trail, return to the amphitheater and your original trail access point.
This is a nice, mostly shady hike in summer, but the trail and park are pretty, and worth a visit, year-round. The Leesylvania State Park hike on the Lee's Woods Trail offers a fun combination of beautiful nature and interesting history. It's just what we have come to expect from a visit to our wonderful Virginia State Parks.
Leesylvania Fishing Pier
Before you return to your car, take time to visit the Leesylvania fishing pier and adjacent beach. Walk out on the pier to visit another state—you'll see a marker for the Maryland border about a third of the way over the water.
Alternatively, you can arrive early and start your visit at the pier. The Leesylvania fishing pier is one of the best places to watch sunrise over the water in Northern Virginia. Conveniently, the park and pier open early—at 6:00 weekdays and 5:00 weekends.
Once the sun is up you can begin the hike and take more early morning photos from Freestone Point.
Leesylvania State Park is only 25 miles from Fairfax, Washington DC, and Fredericksburg, and is a wonderful year-round, day trip destination. The park gets very busy on warm weekends, so visit on a weekday or early morning if possible.
Leesylvania State Park is at 2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Dr. in Woodbridge, Virginia. Admission to the park is $7, $10 weekends from April to October. Find more information and the latest events on the park website.
There are 36 Virginia State Parks, offering natural beauty; excellent hiking, birding, boating, fishing, camping, and other recreation; plus fun events and festivals throughout the year. Learn more about Virginia State Parks in Northern Virginia and the Lee family in these articles:
- Sky Meadows State Park
- Mason Neck State Park
- Arlington National Cemetery
- Robert E Lee Birthplace Stratford Hall
- 5 Fun Things to Do on Virginia's Northern Neck