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Huntley Meadows Park is one of those great Fairfax County surprises—a peaceful, unusual and beautiful wildlife habitat in the midst of our busy streets and neighborhoods. A KidsPost article prompted our first visit, and we’ve returned each season.
Half a mile of boardwalk, woodland trails, and a unique habitat? Count us in.
The park can be a little difficult to find (see location tips below) and you may encounter school groups. The energetic voices of many elementary school children greeted our first visit, but the students were about to leave, and they really were adorable with all the hand holding and matching t-shirts. Older students did a great job walking quietly to observe birds from the boardwalk.
Stop in the Visitor Center for a little history and some excellent info on the park’s hemi-marsh habitat. With over 1400 acres, Huntley Meadows is FCPA’s largest park, and it was once used to test asphalt, provide anti-aircraft protection, and conduct secret radio research.
The Visitor Center has nice interactive dioramas and other touchable exhibits. Add very easy trails, a long boardwalk and extensive wildlife and you have the perfect destination for inquisitive kids.
The wooded Cedar Trail and Deer Trail are full of beautiful big trees and worth the walk. Beavers build and adjust dams throughout the park, and changing water levels make every visit unique.
You can head straight for the boardwalk on the Heron Trail if time is short, or you have toddlers or folks with mobility issues along. Huntley Meadows has the only ADA accessible wetland boardwalk in Northern Virginia.
The boardwalk, and the 2-story observation tower, is the prize at the end of all three trails. From the boardwalk you can explore the marsh, watching for birds, amphibians, beaver dams, and unique plants.
If you move slowly and quietly, you’ll see red-wing blackbirds, herons, ducks, frogs, snapping turtles (huge!!), snakes, skinks, and other wildlife.
So beautiful. So peaceful. So Fairfax County. Man, we love it here.
Huntley Meadows Location Tip
Huntley Meadows is in Hybla Valley, a neighborhood between 495 and route 1. I ignored my own scribbled directions and ended up on a street to the south with no access to the park. Thanks for nothing Apple Maps (Google Maps got me back on track). 495 is probably the most direct route, but you can take Fairfax County Parkway to 611 to avoid heavy beltway traffic.
There are Hike-Bike and Pond trails available from South Kings Highway, but they don’t connect to the boardwalk area. The park is closed Tuesdays.