Northern Virginia Hikes and Favorite Bike Trails Near DC

Explore our favorite Northern Virginia hikes and trails, from easy strolls to more challenging climbs, in our big guide to fun hiking in the Washington DC area. Our list includes hiking trails in Northern Virginia from the Potomac River to the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as nearby getaways.

We have lived in Fairfax County for 25 years and hiking Northern VA is one of our favorite activities. From short, easy hikes with our toddler twins (now college graduates) to more challenging solo trips, we've enjoyed exploring new trails in the DC region.

In the lists below, you'll also find round-ups of favorite paved and mountain biking trails in Virginia.

Favorite Northern Virginia hikes and bike trails include easy strolls to challenging climbs from the Potomac to the Blue Ridge, for fun hiking near Washington DC.

We love day hikes in Northern Virginia, but we are not technical or long-distance hikers. A moderately challenging hike for us may be easy for others. So please use the distances and descriptions below to find a trail that's right for you.

  • Articles are grouped by location and themes, with hiking collections first, followed by location groups. A hike may appear in more than one article.
  • Follow the links for trail descriptions, photos, and more details.
  • Hikes are marked Easy, Medium, or Hard based on distance, elevation gain, and our personal experiences (your mileage may vary).
  • Distances are for the total hike, whether out-and-back or a loop trail, unless indicated.
  • The town or city indicates the location of the trailhead.

Our list links to every hike published on this site (you can also browse these articles in our Hike and Bike Archive). If your favorite trail is not included, that means we haven't hiked it or written about it yet. We'll add new Hike and Bike articles here as we publish them, so bookmark the list and check back for new trails.

Northern Virginia Hiking and Bike Trail Collections

Bluebells line the path on Spring hikes in Northern Virginia at Riverbend Park.
Bluebells in full bloom at Riverbend Park, Great Falls Virginia

These NoVA hiking collections include a range of Virginia hikes from short walks to long-distance trails. There are trail lists for seasonal hikes, beer and wine lovers, wheelchair and stroller-friendly trails, and more. Some collections focus on a particular feature, like our guides to great views and boardwalk trails. Trail distances, difficulty, and location vary in these collections.

Fairfax County Hikes in Northern Virginia

Hiking the Fairfax Cross County Trail Reston VA
Hiking the Fairfax Cross County Trail Reston VA

Fairfax County offers a wonderful collection of trails in Northern Virginia. Enjoy an easy, short stroll or tackle an all-day hike on three long-distance trails. There are plenty of parks and trails perfect for a family hike with kids, including several that are stroller-friendly. This section also includes hikes in Alexandria and Arlington.

While there are some hilly areas in Fairfax County, none of the hikes here offer much elevation gain. But if you enjoy woodland and riverside views, Fairfax County has some of the best trails and hikes near DC. The Potomac River and numerous Runs (Virginia's name for streams) lead to pretty Northern Virginia waterfalls, water views, and scenic overlooks.

Clarke Fauquier and Loudoun County Northern VA Trails

Descending Sky Meadows loop hike in fall
Descending Sky Meadows loop hike in fall

Historic sites, a section of the Appalachian Trail, and Sky Meadows State Park make for some nice country hiking in Clarke, Fauquier, and Loudoun County. Happily, there are many beautiful wineries and craft breweries to visit after your hike, with several clustered around the trails in Bluemont VA.

Prince William County Hikes and Trails

Bridge over Quantico Creek, hiking in Virginia's Prince William Forest Park
Bridge over Quantico Creek, hiking in Virginia's Prince William Forest Park

With two National Park sites—Manassas Battlefield and Prince William Forest—there are many trails to explore in Prince William County. The Neabsco Creek Boardwalk is our favorite spot for an easy stroll over an interesting wetland.

Favorite Western and Shenandoah Hikes in Virginia

Enjoy beautiful views in Shenandoah National Park on some of the best hikes in Northern Virginia
Shenandoah National Park summer view

Shenandoah National Park and areas to the west offer some of the best hikes in Virginia. The storied Appalachian Trail is here, and Skyline Drive makes it easy to reach many wonderful hikes to viewpoints, waterfalls, and historic sites. To the west are the  George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and more excellent hiking on the Virginia and West Virginia border.

More Hikes Near DC Plus Day Trips and Getaways

Sugarloaf Mountain Hike to Maryland Views

Of course, there are many more great hikes in Virginia and areas surrounding Northern Virginia. The articles below cover additional hikes near Washington DC along with Virginia destinations that include nice trails. Many of these getaways can be visited on a day trip from NoVA, but we recommend a longer getaway if time allows.

Local travel is one of the best ways to explore and enjoy the weekend. Follow the links for information on hikes plus more things to do, along with places to eat and stay at each destination.

No matter which Northern Virginia hikes you choose to explore, we wish you fun and happy hiking!

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Favorite Northern Virginia hikes and bike trails: easy strolls to challenging climbs from the Potomac to the Blue Ridge, for fun hiking near Washington DC.

This article was published in 2020.

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