It’s fun to celebrate fall in Northern Virginia because the season brings cooler days, beautiful autumn foliage, and lots of Autumn ...
This week we hiked the new NOVA Parks connector linking 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 for the first time.
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 now, there was no easy way to get from one park to the other, except by traversing narrow streets without bike lanes or sidewalks.
NVRPA comes to the rescue with the new connector trail, a 1.25 mile paved stretch of bike lanes and a short street segment that gives bikers and walkers a safe and peaceful way to navigate between parks.
The Meadowlark Connector Trail begins near mile 14.5 of the W&OD, along a nice 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 fancy new sign. A few hundred feet from the W&OD you’ll cross a new bridge then follow an easement through private property.
A 1200 foot section of trail follows Meadowlark Road where a new sidewalk is under construction. The sidewalk merges into the newly paved Meadowlark Perimeter Trail (currently just past the porta-potty).
The remainder of the perimeter trail follows fencing along the back edge of Meadowlark Gardens, with Meadowlark Road nicely 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 (it 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 really beautiful cherry trees. We will definitely be back for a walk under these trees in the spring. If you’re biking, continue on the perimeter trail around to the front park entrance. If you’re on foot, you can enter the outer portion of Meadowlark Gardens through the gate.
Follow the paved path to the park entrance, or stop and have a picnic at the outdoor seating area. 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 $5.00 fee) you should definitely visit the park. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is beautiful year-round. Between now and the new year, many of the trees are wrapped in lights for Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights (opening November 14th) and the Visitor Center is decorated for the holiday light show as well.
We are grateful to NOVA Parks and all of the volunteers and agencies who make projects like the Meadowlark Connector Trail happen. We’re lucky to live in an area with so many beautiful and unique parks nearby.
Have you tried the new Meadowlark Connector Trail? We’d love to hear about your visit.