Updated on January 18, 2022 by Julie McCool
The NOVA Parks connector trail links the popular W&OD bike trail with beautiful Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. Only 1.25 miles long, the paved trail provides safe and scenic biking and hiking access to Meadowlark.
Meadowlark Gardens and the Washington and Old Dominion Regional Park are only a mile apart and both are managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks). Until the trail opened in 2014, there was no easy way to get from one park to the other, except by traversing narrow streets without bike lanes or sidewalks.
Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. We will make a small commission from these links if you order something, at no additional cost to you.
NOVA Parks came to the rescue with the Meadowlark Gardens Connector Trail, a 1.25 mile paved stretch of bike lanes and a short street segment. The trail gives bikers and walkers a safe and peaceful way to navigate between one of the best bike trails in Virginia and a gorgeous Virginia public garden.
The payoff for your effort is a spectacular stand of cherry trees that is one of the most beautiful late-blooming cherry blossom spots in Northern VA.
NOVA Parks Connector Trail Details
The Meadowlark Connector Trail begins near mile 14.5 of the W&OD, along an easy, level section of the trail through Reston and Vienna. The closest W&OD parking area, at Hunter Station Road, is less than a mile away from the connector trail.
Enter the Meadowlark Connector Trail near the seating area and the sign marking the entrance. A few hundred feet from the W&OD you'll cross a bridge then follow an easement through private property.
A short, 1200-foot section of trail uses the street and sidewalks on Meadowlark Road. The remainder of the perimeter trail follows fencing along the back edge of Meadowlark Gardens, with Meadowlark Road conveniently separated from the path.
Views into the park are a nice distraction from the challenging hills along this section of the connector trail. Whether you're on a bike or walking, you'll get a good cardio workout. The steep hills would be pretty difficult with a stroller or rollerblades. Keep an eye out for the cool and quirky seating area at a private house across Meadowlark Road.
As you round the corner approaching Beulah Road you pass under some very beautiful cherry trees. These trees are absolutely gorgeous in spring. They are late bloomers, so perfect for a late visit during the cherry blossom season, usually in early to mid-April.
If you are biking, continue on around the curve to the front entrance to Meadowlark Gardens. If you're on foot, you can walk between the long branches of the cherry trees and through a gateway.
Here, another paved path curves through two rows of apple trees, which bloom around the same time. Benches line the path and there are picnic tables closer to the Meadowlark parking lot.
Follow the paved path to the park entrance, or stop and have a picnic at one of the outdoor tables. We used to bring our kids here for a picnic and a walk even when we weren't planning to enter the park.
If you have time (and the modest admission fee) you should definitely go in and see the gardens. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is one of Northern Virginia's hidden gems and is one of our favorite Wheelchair Accessible and Stroller Friendly Trails in Northern VA.
The gardens are open year-round and there is always something new to see. Beginning in late November, the garden sparkles with displays during Meadowlark's Winter Walk of Lights.
We are grateful to NOVA Parks and all of the volunteers and agencies who make projects like the Meadowlark Connector Trail happen. Northern Virginia residents and visitors are fortunate to have so many beautiful and unique parks nearby.
This article was published in 2014 and updated in 2021.