7 Best Walking, Hiking, & Biking Trails Near Fairfax County, VA
Fairfax County, Virginia, renowned for its scenic beauty and commitment to outdoor activities, offers an array of exceptional walking and jogging trails. The best trails around the county are known for their scenic vistas, well-maintained paths, and accessibility, and they're a major draw for anyone moving to Northern Virginia and considering Fairfax County. From tranquil woodland walks to bustling community trails, these paths cater to both casual strollers and serious joggers. Discover the diverse landscapes of Fairfax County through its trails, where each path promises a unique experience, be it a peaceful nature escape or a challenging fitness route, enhancing the county's appeal as a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Burke Lake Loop Trail (Burke Lake Park)
Located in the Fairfax Station community, Burke Lake Park is located near some of the most sought-after and stately luxury homes in Fairfax County, dripping with old Virginia charm. This park offers plenty for visitors, including riding on the carousel, fishing, biking, or camping. The Burke Lake Loop Trail is a paved trail that encircles the lake. The trail is about five miles long, and it takes about two hours to walk around the lake. Plus, it's an easy trail suitable for the whole family.
There are two main parking lots on the lake's southwest side, and the trail can be accessed from either one. Admission to the park is free, and leashed dogs are welcome to accompany their owners.
Lake Mercer Loop (South Run Park)
Lake Mercer, located near the Springfield community, includes the Lake Mercer Loop, a nice 4.2-mile hike that circles the lake. The best way to access this trail is to find the trailhead behind the South Run Rec Center in South Run Park—both located in the aptly named South Run community. Early into this hike, visitors will come to a fork in the trail. Turn left and follow the trail to the lake. The trail is paved with some wooden footbridges that cross the South Run.
Hikers will pass the Lake Mercer Dam on the eastern side of the lake before the trail loops back to where it started. The trail is rated easy, and it can take 2–2.5 hours to complete this hike. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail.
River Trail Loop (Great Falls Park)
More experienced hikers will want to explore the river trails at Great Falls Park in the McLean community. Combining three of these trails into one hike creates a nice loop that allows visitors to get a workout while viewing the waterfalls the park is named after. Follow the Old Carriage Road trail south from the Visitor's Center parking lot. This trail eventually intersects with the Ridge Trail. Turn left on the Ridge Trail and follow it until the end, where the Difficult Run flows into the Potomac River.
Follow the trail back until it intersects with the River Trail, and stay on it until it leads back to the Visitor's Center. The entire hike is about 4.6 miles, is rated easy to moderate most of the way, and provides glimpses of some of the most exclusive waterfront homes in Fairfax County. It takes about two hours to complete this hike, and leashed dogs are welcome. Note that Great Falls Park charges an entrance fee for each vehicle arriving at the park.
Bull Run Occoquan Trail (Fountainhead Regional Park)
The Bull Run Occoquan Trail is for serious hikers only. It connects Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax Station with Bull Run Regional Park, located in the Centreville community; the trail is 19.7 miles long, so hikers not used to traveling that distance may want to only hike part of the trail before returning. It takes about seven hours to complete the hike one way. Many people choose to mountain bike along the trail or ride a horse, both of which are allowed.
The trail is mostly dirt as it makes its way through this 5,000-acre site. There are some wooden boardwalks and footbridges in some areas to keep hikers' feet out of the muddy streams. Bull Run Regional Park was the location of important battles in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Some remnants of those conflicts can still be seen near the trail to this day, such as a group of earthen mounds that were once part of a makeshift fort. It's free to enter the park, and leashed dogs are welcome.
Turkey Run & Potomac Heritage Trail (Turkey Run Park)
Turkey Run Park is a national park along the southern banks of the Potomac in the Langley community, with several trails that combine into a four-mile loop through wooded areas. The trails are mostly dirt and rocks, with some stairs in a few places. There are three parking lots in the park. To access the Turkey Run Loop Trail, park in the westernmost parking lot (the one closest to the river). The trail zigzags down a hill until it intersects with the Potomac Heritage Trail.
Follow this trail upriver until it forks with the Dead Run Trail. The trail heads south a short distance before looping back to the east. Dead Run Trail eventually intersects with Turkey Run Trail, which leads back to the parking lot where the hike started. This is an easy-to-moderate hike with a few steep spots that require light climbing. The hike should take around two hours to complete. Leashed dogs are welcome with their owners.
Scott's Run Nature Preserve (McLean)
The Scott's Run Nature Preserve is located in McLean directly north of Tysons Corner, one of the best neighborhoods in Northern Virginia. This is a fairly easy loop trail that offers up-close waterfall views. Simply set out from the parking lot off the Georgetown Pike and follow the trail around the preserve's perimeter. The trail is unpaved and has loose rocks and gravel. The loop trail around the preserve is about 3.3 miles and can take up to two hours to complete.
The Scott's Run Falls are in the northwestern part of the preserve. From there, follow the river east until it loops back to the south. There is no entrance fee to park at the nature preserve. Leashed dogs are welcome on the trail with their owners.
Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail
The Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park has an old rail trail that runs for 45 miles along the Four Mile Run in Fairfax County and into the Arlington community. The trail winds through multiple communities and neighborhoods in the county, past everything from Fairfax County condos to completely wooded areas. There are many access points for the trail along its entire route. Rather than trying to manage the entire trail, visitors usually hop on at one point and do an out-and-back hike to enjoy the fresh air.
The W&OD Trail is paved the entire way. It also has a 32-mile gravel trail for horseback riders that runs next to it. People are allowed on the trail from 5:00 a.m. until dusk, and leashed dogs are welcome.
Experience Fairfax County's Walking & Jogging Trails
Exploring the walking and jogging trails in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a journey through picturesque landscapes and tranquil settings. These trails, with their diverse terrains and breathtaking views, offer a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. They serve as a testament to the beauty and accessibility of nature within the county. Embrace the opportunity to connect with nature and enhance your well-being by visiting Fairfax County's exceptional trails, where every step is a step towards serenity and vitality.