Escape into Loudoun County’s Great Outdoors

Photo Courtesy of Visit Loudoun.

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Known as DC’s Wine Country®, Loudoun County, Virginia, is home to year-round mild temperatures, lush forests and rolling countryside – the perfect setting for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Spend the day hiking, biking, fishing or horseback riding. Explore the county’s regional parks and nature preserves. Or, enjoy a relaxing afternoon canoeing in a spectacular reservoir.

What will you discover as you explore Loudoun County?

Best Parks and Trails in Loudoun County

Known for its breathtaking views of the Potomac River and foothills, Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park stretches 67 acres across Leesburg, Virginia. Home to numerous hiking trails, historic buildings and wildlife such as red-tailed hawks and red-bellied woodpeckers, the park attracts outdoor enthusiasts with its off-the-beaten-path charm. Take a leisurely hike on the popular White Trail, which runs 1.2 miles through dense woods, leading to breathtaking views of the Potomac River. You can even see the blue foothills on the opposite side of the river’s bank.

Love history? The park is home to various historical buildings from the 1800s owned by the late Charles Paxton, an affluent Virginia farmer. See the Carriage House, once home to carriages and farm equipment until the 1930s. Snap photos at the Well House, which stored water and two types of grain in the adjacent two-chambered granary. And don’t miss the Ice House, restored by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Finally, keep an eye out for the placards in front of each building that offer insight into the facilities’ use and history.

Algonkian Regional Park has everything you need to enjoy Loudoun County’s great outdoors, from over 800 acres of breathtaking wilderness and hiking trails to an 18-hole golf course and waterpark. Rent a riverfront cottage to access fishing, kayaking, canoeing and boating. Additional family-friendly activities include miniature golf, playgrounds and picnicking. If you’re looking to cool off in the summer, Volcano Island Park has thrilling activities for children and adults. Open May through September, the park has water slides, fountains, squirters, a large central pool and splash pads. No one will get bored between the sprinklers, showers and 500-gallon bucket of water fun. If you take a break from splashing around, enjoy a game of miniature golf or delicious food and drinks under the shade of an umbrella.

Experience Virginia history at Ball’s Bluff Regional Park. Home to the site of one of the most significant Civil War battles in Loudoun County, Ball’s Bluff Battlefield, visitors can enjoy guided tours on the weekends from April through November. One and two-hour tours are available, taking visitors on beautiful woodland trails while an expert volunteer provides historical insights. If you choose to explore without a guide, placards throughout the park provide information about the battle and other sites found throughout the park. Snap photos of the cannons marking the battle site, or pay your respects at the cemetery – the third smallest in the United States – and final resting place of 54 fallen Union soldiers.

Nicknamed “Virginia’s Rollercoaster,” Loudoun’s stretch of the Appalachian Trail is a rewarding challenge for avid hikers. This trail starts off Route 7 near Bluemont and stretches 19.2 miles from point to point. For hikers seeking a more leisurely route, there is a point 20 minutes from the start to an outcrop of rocks and boulders offering incredible views of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and the winding Shenandoah River as you hike to Bear’s Den. In the summer, shady canopies provide a reprieve from the heat as you make your way up the short hike at Bear’s Den. And in the fall, the landscape transforms into a kaleidoscope of vivid golds and reds as the leaves change colors.

A gravel path in the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Leesburg, Virginia. Photo Courtesy of Visit Loudoun.

Just south of Leesburg, Virginia,  discover Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, with 695 acres of protected habitats. Designated as a Virginia treasure, this preserve is the home of forests, wetlands, fields and wildlife, including the American eagle, American beaver, white-tailed deer and a variety of other species. Take in the beauty of the Eastern Red Cedars or the Goose Creek waters as you hike through 20+ miles of family-friendly trails suitable for any fitness level. Goose Creek and Cathedral Loop trail is an easy hike, just under an hour. Even better, the trail is shaded thanks to the thick foliage of the trees, and the nearby Goose Creek offers a cool breeze – a brief respite during warmer weather. As a bonus, the preserve is pet-friendly if you want to bring your four-legged friend. 

At Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park, this 45-mile paved trail is the narrowest in Virginia, stretching east to west from Shirlington to Purcellville. Flat areas, like those between Hamilton and Purcellville, are ideal for cycling, running and skating as you take in the sights of beautiful farmlands. If you’re interested in horseback riding, there are sections of the trail where this is possible.

Off-the-beaten-path adventures await at the Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg, Virginia. Visitors can immerse themselves in the untouched natural landscape while experiencing a dose of local history. Explore 68 acres of woodland trails, traverse through forests and meadows and keep an eye out for native and migratory birds, from bluebirds to songbirds, bald eagles and geese. The sanctuary is also home to the Rust Manor House, a historic wedding venue you can only tour by appointment. However, the outside gardens are open to the public.

Recently renamed Bazil Newman Riverfront Park, this park is home to 100 acres of parkland, hiking trails, and the historic Elizabeth Mills canal lock system, a series of inland waterways dotted with stone ruins. Nestled behind the Lansdowne golf course, this secluded park is perfect for a peaceful day surrounded by Northern Virginia’s beauty. Take an afternoon hike on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail or the Riverpoint Drive Trailhead. Canoe or kayak along the Potomac River under a canopy of trees. Or, spend an afternoon fishing at Goose Creek.

Best Outdoor Leisure Activities

Riding horseback at the Morven Park International Equestrian Center in Leesburg. Photo Courtesy of Visit Loudoun.

If you love horseback riding, Loudoun County has more resident horses than any other county in the state. Horses are such a passion that Olympic riders have lived and trained in Loudoun. You’ll receive the best experience whether you’re taking lessons, taking in an equestrian show, or shopping for gear. In addition, you’ll benefit from expert trail guides and your pick of gorgeous, well-trained horses of all shapes, sizes and colors.

Foxrock Stables in Middleburg offers custom-tailored English riding lessons for beginners or seasoned riders. If you’re looking to take in a show, look no further than Morven Park International Equestrian Center in Leesburg. The center has a complete list of events lined up for 2023.

Soar to new heights as you take in Loudoun’s natural beauty on a zip line. Zip lining is one of Loudoun County’s top outdoor activities. Empower Adventures in Middleburg will take you through tree-top platforms and towering sky bridges expanding across dozens of acres of dense, rich forest. It’s an adrenaline rush you won’t soon forget. There’s also a zip line tour by moonlight where you’ll glide through the trees under a spectacular starry night sky.

The ropes course at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center in Purcellville, Virginia. Photo Courtesy of Visit Loudoun.

Take part in the many outdoor activities at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center in Purcellville, Virginia. This adventure park offers whitewater rafting, zip lining, kayaking and canoeing, a ropes course and even a jumping pillow. Stay overnight at one of the campgrounds or rent a cabin.

Finally, Round Hill’s Sleeter Lake Park is home to a 101-acre reservoir. Enjoy an afternoon fishing (with a license) along the shoreline for catfish, bluegill or largemouth bass. Or, spend the day on the water canoeing or kayaking.

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