Thanks to our warm fall weather, there’s still time to enjoy the beauty of autumn in the MidAtlantic. Especially in destinations south of Washington D.C. But even north around Frederick County, many trees are still holding onto their colorful leaves. Here are three interesting hikes to inspire you to get out and explore this fall.
Monocacy Battlefield Park in Frederick, Maryland
This National Park is a lesser known battlefield than Manassas and Gettysburg, but truly has a haunting story to tell. The battlefield consists of multiple sights representing Maryland’s history and culture. Named after the fast moving Monocacy River, Monocacy National Battlefield has trails built along riverbanks, farmland, beside a historic mill and a modest peak with killer views of the countryside. Stop in the Visitor Center to learn the story of how this Civil War battle prevented the Confederates from marching into Washington DC. It would make an interesting day trip when tied with a tour of Flying Dog Brewery or lunch at one of Frederick, Maryland’s contemporary restaurants.
Leesylvania State Park in Woodbridge, Virginia
Another joyful discovery is Leesylvania State Park, formerly Robert E. Lee’s family’s plantation home, where you can go paddle boarding, kayaking, workout on a fitness trail, and of course get some great hiking in along wide and blue Belmont Bay. Leesylvania State Park has an abundance of wildlife, especially birds of prey and marine life. Located in Prince William County, nearby you can enjoy an authentic Chesapeake Bay style feast at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant and Crabhouse, and maybe fit in a visit to the National Museum of the Marine Corps or Potomac Mills Outlet Mall.
Mason Neck State Park in Occaquan, Virginia
One of my new favorite places is Mason Neck State Park. This is a waterfront hike on a number of boardwalks over thriving wetlands and pristine woodland. You’re likely to see a variety of wildlife including eagles and other sea birds that make their home here. It’s just a few miles from the historic residence of George Mason, Gunston Hall. Following your hike, stop in Blu 1681 by the Occoquan Harbour Marina.
Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Maryland
Sugarloaf Mountain looms above rolling farmlands, the tallest peak for miles. Privately owned, Sugarloaf functions as a nature preserve and public recreation area. For hikers, the 3,300-acre property offers multiple trails, mostly challenging with steady ascents and descents. The scenery from the peak is beguiling. Wildlife including birds, deer, raccoons, wild turkeys and red foxes are plentiful when the mountain isn’t crowded. Stop by Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard just a few miles away to sample wine and enjoy the view of this textured landscape.