Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area
Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area
The Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area is located approximately 25 miles south of Washington D.C., on the Mason Neck peninsula. Stretching across more than 800 acres of public lands, Meadowood offers 13.4 miles of hiking trails, 7 miles of horseback riding trails, 6.6 miles of mountain biking trails, and two universally accessible trails to Hidden Pond and the Outside Education Classroom. The site also offers two fishing ponds, environmental education programs, horse boarding stables, geocaching, picnic areas, trails, pollinator garden, and bird watching sites.
The Meadowood Farm was privately owned until the Bureau of Land Management, acquired it on October 18, 2001, under the authority of the 2001 Washington, D.C. Appropriations Act 1 Section 165 authorized a complex set of land transactions facilitated by Fairfax County.
Managed by BLM Eastern States, the Meadowood SRMA is a key component of the parks, refuges, and other preserves on the Mason Neck Peninsula that have been protected from development. Meadowood SRMA focuses on three core programs: recreation, environmental education, and wild horses and burros. These core programs are balanced with the management of natural and cultural resources.
The hours of operation for the Meadowood trails and natural areas are from dawn to dusk daily.
The Bureau of Land Management's Lower Potomac Field Station located at Meadowood is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- WHERE TO PARK (DIRECTIONS AND ACCESS)
Meadowood SRMA has six parking lots for quick access to explore the trails, meadows, and forest. Parking is not allowed along the side of the roads near the trailheads.
Access to the hiking and mountain biking trails and control line field:
From Interstate 95 South: Exit 163 to Lorton. Turn left onto Lorton Rd, continue under second overpass and turn right onto Lorton Market St. Continue approximately 1.5 miles U.S. Route 1. Proceed straight through intersection with Route 1, when the road name changes to Gunston Rd. Continue for 1 mile; entrance is on the right immediately after Gunston Elementary School.
From Interstate 95 North: Take exit 161 to Lorton, U.S. Route 1 North. Proceed about 1.5 miles to first stop light. Turn right onto Gunston Rd. Continue approximately 1 mile; entrance is on the right immediately after Gunston Elementary School.
Access to the hiking and equestrian trails and fishing ponds:
From Interstate 95 South: Exit 163 to Lorton. Turn left onto Lorton Rd, continue under second overpass and turn right onto Lorton Market St. Continue approximately 1.5 miles U.S. Route 1. Proceed straight through intersection with Route 1, when the road name changes to Gunston Rd. Continue for 1.5 mile and take a right onto Harley Rd. The parking lot will be immediately on the right side.
From Interstate 95 North: Take exit 161 to Lorton, U.S. Route 1 North. Proceed about 1.5 miles to first stop light. Turn right onto Gunston Rd. Go about 1.5 mile and take a right onto Harley Rd. The parking lot will be immediately on the right side.
Lower Potomac Field Station Parking Lot
10406 Gunston Rd, Lorton, VA 22079
Mason Neck Visitor Information Trailhead
10110 Gunston Rd, Lorton, VA 22079
Giles Run Trailhead
10207 Old Colchester Rd, Lorton, VA 22079
10324 Belmont Blvd, Lorton, VA 22079
Hidden Pond Trailhead
10705 Belmont Blvd, Lorton, VA 22079
Mustang Trailhead & Horse Trailer Parking
10702 Harley Rd, Lorton, VA 22079
At Meadowood, there are 4 restrooms: 2 at Lower Potomac Field Station, 1 at Hidden Pond Trailhead, and 1 at Mason Neck Visitor Information Trailhead.
- VISIT THE TRAILS
Meadowood is enjoyed by thousands of people from the local community, across the U.S., and abroad. Meadowood is known for its equestrian, mountain biking, and hiking trails. Hiking is allowed on all trails, there are designated trails for equestrian and mountain biking. Trail users should follow Leave No Trace Principles and trail etiquette while at Meadowood. Please share the trail and respect the other users. For directions to the trails, visit the Where to Park section. Download the Meadowood trail map here.
Hiking Trails ~13.4 miles: Hikers can park at any parking lot and hike on all the trails across Meadowood. All trails at Meadowood are available for hiking. *Please note that pets are allowed at Meadowood but must be kept on a leash at all times.
Mountain Biking Trails ~6.7 miles : Bikers can access the mountain bike trails at Mason Neck Visitor Information Trailhead, Giles Run Trailhead, and Meadowood Trailhead. Bicycles are not allowed on the equestrian trails. All motorized vehicles including e-bikes are currently not allowed at Meadowood. Bikers can ride the following intermediate biking trails: Boss (.85 mi), Yard Sale (.67 mi), Stinger (.46 mi), and South Branch Loop (4.8 mi). Mountain biking is not allowed on the other trails at Meadowood. Motorized vehicle use is prohibited at Meadowood.
Equestrian Trails ~7 miles: To access the equestrian trails, park at the Mustang Trailhead Horse Trailer Parking. Horses are not allowed on the mountain biking trails. Horseback riders can enjoy all the trails excluding the following trails: Giles, Boss, Yard Sale, Stinger, and South Branch Loop.
Universally Accessible Trails: Users can easily access the Hidden Pond Trailhead to explore the universally accessible trails.
National Scenic and Historic Trails: Meadowood encompasses the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. Both trails can be accessed at the Mason Neck Visitor Information Trailhead.
While at Meadowood, visitors can enjoy 15 miles of trails with a variety of uses, like hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Meadowood provides open meadows, ponds, and forest that allows for wildlife and bird viewing, hunting, fishing, photography, and geocaching.
Kite flying is only allowed in open fields space away from other visitors and trees. Monofilament or wire/metal kite string is prohibited. Do not fly kites within 75 feet of trees, power lines, light poles, parking, people, or facilities. Dispose of all kite string and material properly. String can be a danger to wildlife, maintenance equipment, and other visitors.
See the sections below for more detail about each recreation opportunity.
Refer to Visit the Trails section for more information.
Camping is NOT allowed at Meadowood.
HUNTING, FISHING, AND SHOOTING
The BLM in coordination with Fairfax County Police Department/Animal Services, uses the safest, most effective, and sustainable deer management methods as permitted by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Each year, deer management is conducted at Meadowood during the month of September to February. Archery-based deer hunting is only allowed at Meadowood. During this season, archers are permitted to hunt at Meadowood Monday through Saturday, beginning 30 minutes prior to sunrise until 30 minutes past sunset. No hunting is allowed on Sunday. Hunting is conducted from elevated tree stands located at least 100 feet from the park property lines and 50 feet from established park trails. Archery program signs will be posted at park entrances and on trails informing visitors of this deer management activity and asking visitors to remain on established trails. For more information about hunting visit the Fairfax County Deer Management Program.
Fishing is allowed at the following two ponds: Enchanted and Hidden Pond. To access Enchanted Pond, park at the Mustang Trailhead and walk west for .25 miles. To access Hidden Pond, park at Hidden Pond Trailhead and follow the Hidden Pond Trail. Fishing is allowed year-round at both ponds. A fishing licenses is needed to fish and can be obtained at Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
The ponds host a wide variety of insects, fish and other wildlife. The BLM and the State of Virginia survey the population in the fishing ponds periodically and restock them when needed. Grass-eating carp, sunfish, catfish, largemouth bass, and snakeheads can be found swimming in these ponds. The most up-to-date take limit and size limit for each fish must be followed. Fish that do not meet the posted criteria, or are in excess of the allowed limit, must be released back into the pond.
Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, etc. in the ponds are not allowed.
Target shooting is not allowed at Meadowood. Additionally, discharging or using firearms, weapons, or fireworks is not allowed on developed recreation sites and areas.
CONTROL LINE MODEL AIRPLANES
Flying control line model airplanes (defined as a tethered model, not controlled by a remote device, used for entertainment or educational purposes only, with an engine displacement of 1 cubic inch or less, or an electric motor with an equivalent or lower power rating) is allowed only at the western parcel in Field #1 on the two circles. Flyers can park at the Giles Run Trailhead for easy access to the Control Line Fields. The BLM partners with the Northern Virginia Control Line Association to manage and hold events and practices. There are two competitions held at Meadowood annually, Stunt Fest and Ring Master Fly-A-Thon. Additionally, there are open practice every Saturday at the flying circles. If you are interested in participating, club meetings are the second Thursday of each month at Richard Byrd Branch Library at 7 p.m. For more information about control line contact the Northern Virginia Control Line Association.
- ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION AND INTERPRETATION
Meadowood offers environmental education programs for homeschoolers, public and private schools, local 4-H groups, and community youth agencies. Programs consist of bird identification, fishing, habitat hikes, tree identification, Urban Leave No Trace, animal tracking, invasive weed removal, and many other outdoor environmental education activities. These programs provide diverse opportunities to understand resource management goals and the importance of natural and cultural resources. Contact our office for more information: 703-339-8009
- HISTORIC AND CULTURAL RESOURCES
Meadowood has unique resources in the general vicinity including the route of Washington’s solders during the Revolutionary War. Historic and cultural resources at Meadowood are protected under the Antiquities Act (16 U.S.C. 431-433) and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 USC 470aa-470mm). Therefore, metal detecting and artifact hunting is prohibited.
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Crossing lands once explored by George Washington, this evolving network of trails provides opportunities to travel portions of five geographic regions between the Atlantic Costal Plains and the Allegheny Highlights. Trail sections, within Meadowood, connect existing routes to the north and south. Access to the scenic trail is at the Mason Neck Information Center and Pohick Bay Park Connector. The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail has something for everyone; history, nature, recreation, wildlife, and conservation are all themes that find a home within the Trail network. Users can hike, bike, and paddle the scenic trail in VA, MD, DC, and PA. The trail is open year-round, weather permitting.
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
The course of the American Revolution unfolds along this trail of historically related destinations, including over 700 miles of land and water routes used by General George Washington and French General Rochambeau on their way to the battle at Yorktown, Virginia. In 1781, General Rochambeau’s French Army joined forces with General Washington’s Continental Army to fight the British Army in Yorktown. With the French Navy in support, the allied armies moved hundreds of miles to become the largest troop movement of the American Revolution. The effort and cooperation between the two sides led to a victory at Yorktown and secured American independence. Hikers can enjoy the historic trail that runs through 10 states across the Northeast. The trail is open year-round, weather permitting. At Meadowood, the land route of the historic trail can be accessed at the Mason Neck Information Center.
- NATURAL RESOURCES
This landscape mosaic contains a variety of ecosystems. These include gently sloping open meadows, mature mixed hardwood forests along steep slopes and floodplains, and riparian areas, freshwater ponds and streams. Red and white oak, beech, sweet gum, Virginia pine, and persimmon, which are common sights in mid-Atlantic woodlands, appear throughout the forests at Meadowood. The mosaic landscape provides diverse outdoor recreation and environment education opportunities to Meadowood.
- WILDLIFE VIEWING & BIRD WATCHING
The ponds, streams, and riparian areas in Meadowood host a wide variety of insects, fish, and other wildlife. Grass-eating carp are among the species stocked in the ponds; they cannot reproduce, and they eat invasive aquatic weeds, which would otherwise overwhelm small ponds. In addition to stocked species, the American eel appears in the area’s ponds and streams and serves as attractants to the local Bald eagles. Migrating waterfowl such as various duck species, Canada geese, and herons commonly occur at water features. Meadowood is home to 30 species of migratory songbirds and is within the National Audubon Society’s Lower Potomac River Important Bird Area. Dragonflies and butterflies are abundant not only in the ponds and meadows, but within the myriad acres of edge habitat. Whitetail deer, foxes, and squirrels abound throughout Meadowood. The North American beaver makes the occasional appearance in the floodplains of Thompson Creek, Giles Run, and South Branch as well as at Enchanted Pond.
- WILD HORSE AND BURRO PROGRAM
The goal of the Wild Horse and Burro program is to preserve healthy wild horses and burros on thriving public range lands. Wild horses are known for their keen intelligence, and sure-footedness, and have been trained for many uses.
They have become champions in dressage, jumping, and endurance riding; and excel in difficult scenarios, such as performing search and rescue missions in hazardous terrain. Burros are particularly adept at packing, guarding, riding, and serving as companion animals.
Meadowood holds annual Wild Horse and Burro adoption events at the pavilion next to Mustang Trailhead. For more information about the Wild Horse and Burro Program, visit https://wildhorsesonline.blm.gov/.
- INVASIVE SPECIES
The BLM has identified the following invasive species: barberry, barnyard grass, bush honeysuckle, Chinese lespedeza, Chinese privet, garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, mile-a-minute, Mimosa, Multiflora rose, Nandina, Japanese stiltgrass, Japanese honeysuckle, tree-of-heaven, Paulownia, Phragmites australis, Oriental bittersweet, Russian olive, Johnson grass (state-listed noxious weed), and wisteria. For more information about BLM’s invasive species management program, visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/weeds-and-invasives.
Opportunities to volunteer are available year-round. You can get involved with several of our annual events including National Public Lands Day, annual fishing events, trail maintenance, and educational programs. We also offer a variety of general volunteer opportunities on site. Whether you are interested in attending helping with a project, completing an internship, or serving in another way, there are many opportunities at Meadowood! If interested, coordinate with our site staff and fill out the Volunteer Application.
Join the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE) for their quarterly mountain bike trail maintenance workdays at Mason Neck Visitor Information Kiosk. To volunteer at one of our trail maintenance events the BLM.
- INTERESTED IN USING OUR FACILITIES AND TRAILS?
Are you interested in using our trails, meadows, and facilities for a competitive race, group equestrian ride, mountain bike class, geocaching, or use of our pavilion? If so, a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) is needed. SRPs are issued to businesses, organizations, and individuals to allow the use of specific public land and related waters for commercial, competitive, and organized group use. They allow the land stewards to coordinate and track commercial and competitive use of public lands. They also provide resource protection measures to ensure the future enjoyment of those resources by the public. For more information about SRPs and to apply for an SRPs, visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/permits-and-passes/special-recreation-permits.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pleased to officially announce the introduction of a new online interface for processing Special Recreation Permit applications and renewals called the Recreation and Permit Tracking Online Reporting system (RAPTOR) at permits.blm.gov. This BLM Office is participating in RAPTOR to simplify and standardize a faster permitting process. Please contact BLM_ES_Meadowood@blm.gov with any questions and to get started now!