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.
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
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.
- 8 Epic Virginia Trails to Hike and Bike, Less Than 2 Hours from DC
- Short Hikes to Gorgeous Virginia Views
- 5 Virginia Hike and Beer Day Trips Near Washington DC
- 7 Virginia Hike and Wine Day Trips Close to Washington DC
- 6 Beautiful Boardwalk Hikes in Northern Virginia
- Wheelchair Accessible and Stroller Friendly Trails in Northern Virginia
- 12 Northern Virginia Bike Trails: Paved and Mountain Biking Fun Near DC
- Potomac Heritage Trail Hikes in Northern Virginia
- 5 Tips for Hiking the Fairfax Cross County Trail
- 10 Great Falls Park Alternatives When Entry Lines Are Long
- Hiking on the Mason Neck Peninsula in Northern Virginia
- 8 Great Spring Hikes in Northern Virginia: Outdoor Fun Near Washington DC
- Spring Wildflowers and Where to Find Them in Northern Virginia
- 8 Great Summer Hikes in Northern Virginia
- 16 Favorite Fall Hikes in Northern Virginia
- Northern Virginia Fall Foliage: Best Places to See Fall Colors In the Region
- 8 Great Winter Walks in Northern Virginia
- Virginia First Day Hikes Start the New Year Right
Fairfax County Hikes in Northern Virginia
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.
- Hike Seneca Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail in Northern VA E — 2 – 4 miles — Great Falls
- Potomac Hike: Bluebells and Sycamores at Riverbend Park E — 3 miles — Great Falls
- Hike Riverbend to Great Falls Park on an Easy Riverside Trail E — 3 miles — Great Falls
- Woodland Loop Hike in Riverbend Park Virginia E — 2.5 miles — Great Falls
- Great Falls Park River Trail Hike: Waterfalls and Views Near Washington DC E/M — 1, 2 or 3.5-miles — McLean
- Difficult Run to Potomac River on Fairfax Cross County Trai Segment 10 E/M — 2 or 5-miles — McLean
- Great Falls Loop Hike: Run Ridge and River M — 3 miles — McLean
- Scotts Run Loop Hike on the Potomac Heritage Trail E/M — 3 miles — McLean
- Turkey Run Park Hike Along the Potomac River E/M — 2.5 miles — McLean
- Dead Run Waterfall Hike on Virginia’s Potomac Heritage Trail E/M — 4 miles — McLean
- Theodore Roosevelt Island Hike at the Edge of Washington DC E — 2-4 miles — Arlington
- Windy Run Hike: A Potomac River Escape Near DC E — 3.5 miles — Arlington
- Huntley Meadows Park Wetlands and Boardwalk Trail in Northern VA E — 2-mile — Alexandria
- Dyke Marsh and Mount Vernon Trail Hikes Near DC E — 1.5 miles — Mount Vernon
- Leigh Mill to Toll Road on Fairfax Cross County Trail Segment 9 E — 6 miles — Vienna
- New NOVA Parks Connector: W&OD to Meadowlark Gardens M — 2.5 miles paved — Vienna
- Visit Meadowlark Botanical Gardens for Year-round Beauty in Northern VA E — variable — Vienna
- Woods and W&OD Bike Trail on Fairfax Cross County Trail Segment 8 E — 4 miles — Reston, Vienna
- Shade and Streams on Fairfax Cross County Trail Segment 7 E — 6 miles one way — Vienna, Oakton
- Sugarland Run Hike on a Streamside Trail in Northern VA E — 4 miles one war — Reston, Herndon
- Glade Stream Valley Hike and Walker Nature Center in Reston Virginia E — 3.75 miles — Reston
- Lake Thoreau Loop Trail in Reston Virginia E — 2 miles — Reston
- Play All Day at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston Virginia E/M — variable — Reston
- Long Branch Stream Valley Trail E — 4 miles paved — Fairfax
- Sidewalk Sun on Fairfax Cross County Trail Segment 6 E — 3 miles paved — Fairfax
- Family Hiking Fun at Ellanor C Lawrence Park in Chantilly VA E — 1 to 4 miles — Chantilly
- Around Burke Lake E — 5 miles — Fairfax Station
- Northern Bull Run Occoquan Trail Hike in Northern Virginia — E/M — 7 miles one way — Centreville, Clifton
- Beautiful Virginia Bluebell Trail Hike in Northern VA — E — 1.5-mile loop — Centreville
- Bull Run Occoquan Trail Hike and Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton Virginia E — variable — Clifton
- Bull Run Occoquan Trail: Fountainhead to Bull Run Marina Hike E/M — 6.5 miles — Fairfax Station
- Hike Around Lake Accotink E — 4 miles — Springfield
- Mason Neck State Park: Nature and Outdoor Fun in Northern Virginia E — .5, 2, or 4 miles — Lorton
- Mason Neck Peninsula Hikes E — .5 to 4 miles — Lorton
- Occoquan Regional Park Hike and History in Northern Virginia E — 1 mile —Lorton
Clarke Fauquier and Loudoun County Northern VA Trails
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.
- Balls Bluff Battlefield Park: Hiking and History in Leesburg Virginia E — .5 – 2 miles — Leesburg
- Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Park Hike and History E — 1.2-mile loop — Leesburg
- Bears Den Overlook Hike in Bluemont Virginia: Alternate Routes and Tips M — 2 miles or more — Bluemont
- Raven Rocks Hike: Appalachian Trail to Beautiful Virginia Views M/H — 5.5 miles — Bluemont
- Hike Cool Spring Battlefield to Beautiful Waterfall and Views E/M — 2.5 – 5 miles — Bluemont
- Sky Meadows Loop Hike to Virginia Piedmont Views M — 4 miles — Delaplane
- Stunning Trillium Trail Hike for Virginia Nature Lovers E — 1.2 miles — Linden
Prince William County Hikes and Trails
With two National Park sites—Manassas Battlefield and Prince William Forest—there are many trails to explore in Prince William County. The new Neabsco Creek Boardwalk is our favorite spot for an easy stroll over an interesting wetland.
- Manassas National Battlefield Loop Hike E — 5.5 miles — Manassas
- Conway Robinson Forest Hike Through Old Growth Woods in Northern VA E — 3 – 5 miles — Gainesville
- Neabsco Creek Boardwalk Trail Hike in Northern Virginia E — 1.5 miles — Woodbridge
- Leesylvania State Park Hike Through History E — 2 miles — Woodbridge
- Explore Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia E/M — 1.5 or 4.5 miles — Triangle
Favorite Western and Shenandoah Hikes in Virginia
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.
- Shenandoah National Park Day Trip Planner: Things to Do in the Central District E/M/H — variable
- 5 Ways to Enjoy Fall Foliage in Shenandoah National Park E/M/H — variable
- Stony Man Trail Hikes to Beautiful Shenandoah Views E/M – 1 – 4 miles
- Marys Rock Hike to Spectacular Shenandoah Views M/D — 7 miles — Shenandoah NP
- Rose River Loop Hike: Chasing Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park Virginia M — 4 miles — Shenandoah NP
- Big Devils Stairs Hike to a View in Shenandoah National Park Virginia M — 5.5 miles — Shenandoah NP
- Hike the Virginia Border to Amazing Views on Big Schloss M/D — 4 miles — Capon WV
- Tibbet Knob Hike to Gorgeous Views on the West Virginia Border M/D — 3 miles — Capon WV
More Hikes Near DC Plus Day Trips and Getaways
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.
- Sugarloaf Mountain Hike to Maryland Views M — 1 – 5 miles — Dickerson MD
- Fun Things to Do in Richmond VA on a Getaway to Virginia’s Capital City
- Fun Things to Do in Charlottesville VA on a Virginia Getaway
- Northern Shenandoah Valley Road Trip: Winchester to Harrisonburg Virginia
- 15 Fun Things to Do In and Near Winchester Virginia
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Shenandoah County Virginia
- Favorite Things to Do in Harrisonburg Virginia and Rockingham County
- Southern Shenandoah Valley Virginia Road Trip: Staunton to Lexington
- Guide to Fun Outdoor Activities in Roanoke VA and Virginia’s Blue Ridge
- Fun Things to Do in Southwest Virginia on an SWVA Road Trip
- 15 Fantastic Things to Do Near Fallingwater in Laurel Highlands Pennsylvania
- A Gettysburg Getaway Immersed in Civil War History
No matter which Northern Virginia hikes you choose to explore, we wish you fun and happy hiking!
This article was published in 2020.