Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Staycations: Great places to hike in Fauquier County

Sometimes, a traditional vacation just doesn't fit into your summer. Perhaps you're too busy at work, or it just isn't in the family budget. Regardless of the reason, if an out of town (or out of state) trip isn't part of your summer plans, there are lots of options close to home. 

In this, the first in a three-part series of "Staycation" ideas and information, we look at some great local options for hiking and enjoying the great outdoors, all within the state of Virginia. 

Sky Meadow State Park, Delaplane, VA 
Fauquier County is blessed to be near several access points to the Appalachian Trail. For a great place to relax, picnic, and enjoy wonderful views of Fauquier County, consider a visit to Sky Meadows State Park. Sky Meadows offers hiking trails at various levels. It is a popular destination and is well frequented on the weekends, so plan your trip accordingly. Also note there is a modest entrance fee. 

Other, more rustic access points to the Appalachian Trail are also nearby. You can access it near Linden, off Route 55 on Tuckers Lane. There you will find a parking lot on the right just as you drive under Route 66. Pack a snack or lunch and hike as far as you want, rest, then hike back. Because it is rarely crowded and has several small streams, it is a good trail to bring along the family dog. Trail access is free. 

Another nearby Appalachian Trail access point is off Route 66 in Markham, off the Route 688 North exit. The trails leads you to the George Thompson Wildlife Management area. Hikers can leave their car at the nearby parking lot and spend the day exploring. Trail access is free at this location as well. 

Have you ever heard of Wildcat Mountain? It is a local hidden gem and offers beautiful scenery, a labyrinth of trails to choose from and is well known for offering solitude to hikers. 

Bull Run Mountain, Broad Run, VA 
A more well-known hiking destination is Bull Run Mountain Conservatory in Broad Run. While the trails vary in length, if you plan to go to the top and enjoy the beautiful views, plan for a three- to four-hour trip and bring water and a snack. Because it is well-known, it may be crowded on the weekends. 

If you are looking for a challenge, Old Rag Mountain is the place to hike. This will take most of the day; start out early to take advantage of cooler morning temperatures and plenty of time to fully explore. 

If you preference is a leisurely stroll or walk, visit nearby Rady Park in Warrenton, or the Northern Fauquier Community Park in Marshall. Both offer paved walkways and picnic areas. 

Numerous resources to learn more about these and other staycation hiking locations are available in our collection:
Guide to State Parks of the United States
Enjoying Virginia Outdoors: A Guide to Wildlife Management Areas
Hikes in the Virginias: Virginia, West Virginia
Virginia: An Atlas of Virginia's Great Hiking Adventures
Fauquier-Warrenton destinations plan: bicycle and pedestrian plan

Before you head out the door, stop by any Fauquier County Public Library location and pick up "Flat Ernie" - take him with you, snap a photo, then send your photo to us at or drop your photo off at one of our locations - we will post it on our Flat Ernie display. It's a great way to share your adventures with other library patrons, and we'd love to see where you and Flat Ernie go this summer - near or far! 

Regardless of where your summer vacation takes you, happy trails! 

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