By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Commitment to a New Year’s resolution, the promise of a fresh start, or “just because:” each January 1st, despite or because of the previous night’s celebrations, some people will start the new year with a focus on fitness. In Northern Virginia, families that want to kick off the new year with active, heart-healthy fun with neighbors have some options including including 5K races and “first day hikes.” See our list below and let us know via the comments if there are other events we should add!
NEW YEAR’S DAY RACES – January 1, 2017
Reston New Year’s Day 5K
Kick off the New Year in style at the New Year’s Day 5K at the Reston Town Center! With a race start time of 10 am, there’s still time to sleep in a bit after ringing in the New Year! The run will start and finish at Reston Town Center and will cover a picturesque route. There will be music, food, and fun celebration following the race.
Commitment Day 5K
The New Year’s Day 5K Fun Run & Walk actually is a weekend filled with festivities, sponsored by the Life Time Fitness Foundation. This four-day event — dedicated to helping people embrace healthier, happier, more active lives — kicks off across the country on New Year’s Day with a Commitment Day 5K fun run in more than 50 locations, including one in Reston. The race begins at 10 am.
FIRST DAY HIKES – January 1, 2017
Every January 1st, America’s State Parks host special events and guided hikes to kick as part of its First Day Hikes initiative to encourage people to get outdoors. On New Year’s Day, parks in all 50 states host free guided hikes for visitors of all ages. Below are four Virginia State Parks locations within an hour or two of Fairfax County, and the programs they will conduct for this year’s First Day Hike. Admission will be free to the parks that day. Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) recently announced it, too, is hosting First Day Hikes with suggested trails and a photo contest; we list those five hikes below as well.
Mason Neck State Park – Mason Neck (near Mount Vernon), Virginia
Start 2017 off right with a First Day Hike! First Day Hikes at state parks offer families a way to start the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike. Mason Neck State Park in Lorton will celebrate with a series of guided hikes, 10 am-4 pm, that will take visitors to some of the more iconic views at the park, and do a little bit of bird watching along the way; you may even get to see one of their famous bald eagles! The first 100 attendees will receive a special First Day Hike bumper sticker. You can bring the whole family, since Mason Neck is a dog-friendly park.
First Hike Fairfax at Lake Accotink Park – Springfield, Virginia
FCPA hosts at First Hike event at Lake Accotink Park: two self-guided options (two or three miles) are easy to moderate, along a path that has some sections paved, and some on a natural surface. The grade varies from flat to moderate, with views of woods and the lake.
First Hike Fairfax at Burke Lake Park – Fairfax Station, Virginia
The First Hike at Burke Lake Park is an easy but longer (nearly five mails) hike on a mix of gravel and concrete, but mostly gravel. The path is stroller-, bike-, and dog-friendly.
First Hike Cub Run Stream Valley – Chantilly, Virginia
First Hike at Cub Run Stream Valley Trail is on an easy two-mile paved path that is stroller-, bike-, and dog-friendly. The path is relatively flat and wide to accommodate trail users in both directions.
First Hike Fairfax at Huntley Meadows Park – Alexandria, Virginia
This First Hike on the Wetland Boardwalk (& Interpretive Trail) can be done as a loop of approximately two miles. The hike-bike path is about 1.2 miles. Bikes not allowed on the boardwalk, but it is stroller friendly. The Hike-Bike trail is paved and recommended for walkers, runners, and bicyclists.
First Hike Fairfax at Riverbend Park – Great Falls, Virginia
The First Hike event at Riverbend Park will be on the scenic trail that offers views of both the forest and the river. This is an easy two-mile loop and there are also information boards offering educational information regarding local wildlife.
Leesylvania State Park – Woodbridge, Virginia
Nestled along the tidal shores of the historic Potomac River, Leesylvania State Park is rich in history and was home to Native Americans for thousands of years. This park’s First Day Hike program focuses on the history of the park, with two hikes (10 am to noon, and noon to 2 pm), led by two experts on the park. Your visit will begin a tour of the history museum before the 90-minute hike. Pets are welcome, but the trail is not accessible for strollers.
Sky Meadows State Park – Delaplane, Virginia
Hike along farmland vistas and forested bottomlands and learn about the New Year’s traditions of the people who called Sky Meadows home for the past 300 years. After the hike, enjoy a taste of “Hoppin’ John,” traditional New Year’s fare you can sample in the Log House. The hike, 11 am to 1 pm, is approximately two miles long on trails that are rated easy. This s 1,864-acre park has scenic views, woodlands, and the rolling pastures of a historic farm that captures the colonial through post-Civil War life of the Crooked Run Valley.
Shenandoah River State Park – Bentonville, Virginia
Join the Friends of Shenandoah River State Park for a hike down the Overlook Trail, 1 pm to 2 pm. The one-mile, easy walk leads to the Culler’s Overlook for gorgeous views of the river along a mostly flat and stroller-friendly trail of compacted dirt. After the hike, enjoy light refreshments at the visitor center. This park is on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and has more than 1,600 acres along 5.2 miles of shoreline, with scenic views of Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east.
Read more about the FCPA hikes on the First Hike Fairfax page. Learn more about Virginia State Parks (VSP) on the VSP site. Also check out the free free VSP mobile app where you can look up each Virginia state park, learn about upcoming events, and download maps. The app has a built-in compass and a Friend Finder feature that enables users to keep track of friends and family around the parks.