And now for part 2 of local Virginia, Maryland, and DC area hikes. Last month we talked a little about Maryland (BLOG POST: FAVORITE MD FAMILY HIKES! A Few of Our Favorite Family and Infant Hiking Areas in Maryland) and this month ... it's prime time for Virginia.
And we'll continue to take into consideration infants, children, and even the occasional man-child that probably wanders off more than the kids. These hikes vary from "easy" to "intermediate" and many of these treks can be shortened by rerouting on shorter loops (except G.R. Thompson).
Considerations for Family Hiking Trails
So back to the basics with a few recommendations for planning your outdoor adventure.
Length: We've found that 3-4 miles is the appropriate length for our little one, yours might be shorter or longer depending on your own tribe
Vertical Change: This is the amount of incline and decline that you have to gruel when out and about, the following are minimal inclines or declines for that matter - our sweet spot is between 300-900 vertical incline which is sometimes up to 1800 vertical feet change.
Accessibility: Facilities and cellular coverage are the first that come to mind for us. Many websites are available to show cellular coverage, BLOG POST: Find Phone Signal With Cell Phone Coverage Maps - Gaia GPS.
Great Hikes for Families in Virginia
Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers. That is for sure. We can't think of a better place to live and get to spend our time as weekend warriors. And these trials are the exact reason that's the case.
1 | Manassas Battlefield - Battery Heights
One of the closer areas to the DMV metro area, this trek will take you through the Manassas Battlefield on the back side of the park. Typically this is a less populated trail and parking at the trailhead is limited to 2 spots.
Length: 3.5 mi.
Ascent: 154 ft
Alternatively, you can access this same route from Brawner Farm Interpretive Center (Manassas National Battlefield Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)).
2 | Seneca Regional Park
Another park that's not far from home is Seneca Regional Park. Mainly because of access, it's dog friendly (or at least most of the hikers there are), and it's limited vertical climb.
Length: 2.32 mi.
Ascent: 354 ft
There are a variety of trails you can take on this one. If you go closer to the river, there are some nice views and some areas where you can follow the ridgeline. Steady feet are needed for those trails, as some of them are a bit angled.
3 | G.R. Thompson WMA - AT to WMA Loop
The G.R. Thompson WMA is one of the lesser-traveled trails in the area. Situated near Front Royal, it's a quick trip down I-66. This loop is extremely dog friendly since it's a WMA. Highly recommend getting Fido an orange blaze vest for safety reasons. Check out our must-have for Fido in one of our previous blog posts: Hiking with Your Dog - MUST HAVE'S for the Trail: What's in the backpack, what's in the truck?.
Length: 4.81 mi.
Ascent: 818 ft
This one has a slight incline 1/4 of the way through and at the end, but nothing that you wouldn't expect when hiking around the Appalachian Trail. Don't let that scare you away.
4 | Shenandoah National Park - Dickey Ridge
In the Northern District of the park, the Dickey Ridge trail is one of the few low vertical change trails. There is some uphill and downhill just because it's on the side of the mountain, but it pails in comparison to some of the traditional hikes that you'll find in Shenandoah.
For a kids expedition, any trail that you venture out towards, it's recommended that you work your way towards this. Halfway through this particular trail, you can turn back around on the loop (you'll notice from the image, it's a figure 8). Instead of going the full route, you could stop and loop back around which would put the length closer to 1.25 mi.
Length: 3.20 mi.
Ascent: 715 ft
Cell: Varies, Spotty at Best
These are just a few of the many trails that we think are family-friendly. Be careful out there, make sure you're prepared (BLOG POST: Getting Out on the Trail with an Infant: Small change to Gear, New Member of the Brood) and familiarize yourself with the areas, and have fun!
Now go get outside!