Beautiful Mason Neck State Park Outdoor Fun in Northern Virginia

Updated on January 8, 2024 by Julie McCool

Mason Neck State Park is a hidden gem in Northern Virginia where visitors can hike, paddle, bird watch, bike, and explore a beautiful bay and wetlands area. The park is a short drive from Washington DC but feels worlds away.

Mason Neck State Park is a fun day trip destination offering a variety of things to do within the park and more interesting stops nearby. There are no restaurants in the park, so we usually head to nearby historic Occoquan for a meal after we visit Mason Neck.

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Here are some of our favorite things to do in Mason Neck State Park, along with tips and information for planning your visit.

Hiking

Hikers can enjoy a nice collection of trails within Mason Neck State Park. There are also very short and accessible trails for folks who want to enjoy the park's nature without a lot of effort.

Since Mason Neck is fairly flat, none of the hikes are challenging, but they all offer a chance to enjoy nature. Park trails are beautiful year-round, but they are especially pretty when fall foliage colors the trees.

Here are three of our favorite trails at Mason Neck State Park:

  • Bay View Trail: A one-mile loop that includes views of Belmont Bay, a nice boardwalk section, and a stop at a bird blind. This is one of the best hikes for kids in the DC area with lots to see in a short distance.
  • Eagle Spur and Kane's Creek: These dirt trails follow a slightly hilly path to a platform overlooking Kane's Creek. We watched eagles and myriad other birds from this location.
  • Marsh View Trail: A quarter-mile stone dust path leads to another platform with beautiful views of the marsh. This is an excellent hike for people with limited mobility and a great spot for birding.

Tip: The nearby Great Marsh Trail and Elizabeth Hartwell Wildlife Refuge offer more hiking opportunities. Read our full guide to Hiking on the Mason Neck Peninsula for details on trails in and near the state park.

Mason Neck State Park Northern Virginia
Mason Neck State Park Northern Virginia

Paddling

Mason Neck State Park sits directly on Belmont Bay, a freshwater bay that flows into the Potomac River. The park also includes beautiful Kane's Creek and extensive marshes. That mix of wetlands makes Mason Neck State Park a great spot for boating in Northern Virginia.

Call ahead to rent a canoe or kayak from April to October, to explore the waters of the bay and creek. Paddling is ideal for eagle and bird watching since you can navigate closer to the trees.

Tip: There is also a car-top boat launch so you can bring your own boat. Fishing is permitted as long as you have the proper Virginia fishing license.

Paddle at Mason Neck State Park Virginia
Paddle at Mason Neck State Park Virginia

Bird Watching

Bird blinds, platforms, trails, and waterways throughout the park offer plenty of bird-watching opportunities. You might see an American Bald Eagle, and you're sure to see plenty of other bird species. Birding is a fun Mason Neck State Park activity year-round. Watch for Great Blue Herons, Cedar Waxwings, Belted Kingfisher, Flicker, and more.

Tip: In the winter, Belmont Bay becomes a temporary home to large Tundra Swans. Check the park website for ranger-led events in January highlighting these winter visitors.

View from the Kane's Creek bird blind Mason Neck State Park Virginia
Kane's Creek, Mason Neck State Park

Bicycling

The Visitor Center at Mason Neck State Park rents bicycles seasonally for use on paved surfaces only. There are only 3 miles of paved, multi-use trails, primarily the road in and out of the park, so this is not one of the best places for biking in Northern VA.

Instead, biking is mostly a way to get a little more outdoor time as you visit different trails and sites in the park. Bicycle rentals are $5 per hour and $15 for 4 hours. Call ahead to confirm that bikes are available for your visit.

Tip: If you like mountain biking, you'll find some great trails in the nearby Meadowood Special Recreation Area.

Visitor Center

Start your visit to Mason Neck State Park and pick up a trail map at the Visitor Center. You'll find interesting displays about the birds and other wildlife you may encounter in the park, and about the Native American people who once lived throughout the area.

There are interactive displays to get the kids involved and help you plan your visit. The Visitor Center is also the place to rent boats and bicycles and make a restroom stop.

Mason Neck Visitor Center view
Mason Neck Visitor Center View

Tip: A 300-foot accessible, paved trail leads to a platform overlooking Belmont Bay. You'll also find a picnic area and a playground nearby.

Special Events at Mason Neck State Park

All Virginia State Parks offer fun and informative events throughout the year. Events are generally included in the park admission fee and are led by rangers and naturalists.

Eagles, owls, tundra swans, and other park birds are highlighted in special events throughout the year. Mason Neck State Park also hosts special First Day Hikes and Kids to Parks Day Events.

Tip: The annual Eagle Festival is a popular May event featuring a full day of animal shows, guided hikes, and other family fun.

Eagle display Mason Neck SP
Eagle Display Mason Neck SP

Things to Do Near Mason Neck State Park

If possible, visit Mason Neck State Park as part of a day trip or weekend getaway to allow more time to explore the area. The Mason Neck peninsula is home to several other excellent stops that will make a longer visit worthwhile. These articles and links share more fun places to visit on the Mason Neck Peninsula:

Whether you visit for hiking, paddling, or as part of a long day of exploration, you are sure to enjoy nature and outdoor fun at Mason Neck State Park.

Mason Neck State Park is at 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079. Learn more about Mason Neck State Park: web | Facebook

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Virginia US Travel; Virginia State Parks. Mason Neck State Park is a hidden gem in Northern Virginia where visitors can hike, paddle, bird watch, bike, and explore a beautiful bay and wetlands area, a short drive from Washington DC
Mason Neck State Park VA