GENERAL INFO:Just a short drive from Washington, D.C., this Northern Virginia park offers many outdoor activities and programs. It has hiking trails, three miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe launch and a visitor center. Canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals are also available. Bird watching, especially for American bald eagles, and guided canoe trips of Kane's Creek and Belmont Bay are favorites with park visitors. The park's wetlands, forest, open water, ponds and open fields make it ideal for environmental study and wildlife observation. Nearby attractions include the Elizabeth Hartwell National Wildlife Refuge, Gunston Hall and Pohick Bay Regional Park.
Park Size: 1,825 acres.
Weather: Local (703) 936-1212. Click here to visit the Weather Channel's site for this zip code.
AT-A-GLANCE: The pictographs directly below show park offerings. Click on those of interest or read below for more detail. Mouse-over the image for a short text description or click here to view a legend in which each pictograph's meaning is expressed.
Its address is 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079-4010; Latitude, 38.654365. Longitude, -77.184114.
Drive Time: Northern Virginia, half an hour (park is in Northern Virginia); Washington, D.C., 45 minutes; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, three hours; Richmond, one and a half hours; Roanoke, four hours.
PARK MAP: Click here.
OVERNIGHT FACILITIES: None - day-use park. For information on availability of other parks' overnight accommodations, particular park amenities or to make a reservation, you can reserve online or call 1-800-933-PARK. Click here for park fees.
Click here for park fees.
TRAILS: Hiking, biking and self-guided trails. More than five miles of unpaved hiking trails and three miles of paved multi-use trails wind through the park providing a glimpse of nature by the bay. Elevated walkways allow visitors to explore some of the marsh areas in the park. Eight bicycles are available for rent.
Visit the Explore Virginia Outdoors website for enhanced maps and video tours of Mason Neck's trails.
WILDLIFE: Virginia State Parks are great places to discover and reconnect with the wild world. Bring a camera and share your captures with the world. But please don't disturb or get too close to the animals. The park is, after all, their home. Here are a few recent natural encounters others have had at Mason Neck.
View all wildlife encounter photos from Mason Neck.
FISHING, BOATING: Fresh and brackish water fishing are available. Must have valid Virginia or Maryland fishing license. Cartop boat launch facilities available; no facilities for trailer launching. From April through October, rent a kayak or canoe for an hour or all day to explore Belmont Bay or Kane's Creek - a great way to see eagles.
HUNTING: Click here to learn about this park's hunting opportunities.
EVENTS: Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
VISITOR CENTER, GIFT SHOP: The park's visitor center was expanded in 2010 to include a new exhibit room, gift shop and meeting room (see the Special Features section below details). There are several exhibits in the center, and the view of Belmont Bay is breathtaking. The gift shop offers park-oriented merchandise and souvenirs and some snacks. Visitor center staff can answer questions and provide information on park trails, facilities and local points of interest. Many programs originate or take place at the visitor center. Check the schedule here to see what’s happening at Mason Neck that day.
NATURE, HISTORY PROGRAMS: Pond study, bird watching, nature walks and talks, and GPS adventures are just a few of the exciting programs offered by park rangers throughout the year. There is always something new to experience or participate in at the park. Click here to view park events, festivals, workshops and interpretive programs.
Junior Rangers: Junior Rangers is an eight-hour program for children 7 to 10. It offers hands-on environmental education that covers stewardship and strong conservation, recreation and protection ethics. Several sessions with varying themes are held each summer. Contact the park for dates and fees.
Wee Rangers: Wee Rangers is a two-hour program for children 4 to 6 with accompanying adults. It’s a fun, hands-on introduction to the natural world. Several sessions with varying themes are offered each summer. Contact the park for dates and fees.
Eagle Festival: Late April.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: Mason Neck participates in the Virginia State Parks: Your Backyard Classrooms program, a 40-activity curriculum guide for K-12 teachers. There are many opportunities for teachers to conduct environmental studies in natural settings. Schools can rent research resources, and various sampling equipment can be provided. Teacher workshops are conducted several times a year. Call the park at 703-339-2380 for details.
NEARBY ATTRACTIONS: Gunston Hall, Mount Vernon, Pohick Bay Regional Park, Woodlawn Plantation, Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and Bureau of Land Managment Meadowood Special Recreation Area, to name a few.
PICNIC SHELTERS: One shelter is available for rent through the Reservations Center at 1-800-933-7275 (PARK). Parking fees are not included in shelter rental. Click here for park fees. The shelter can be rented from 8 a.m. to dusk (all day). Customers must leave the park at sunset.
Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a nominal cancellation fee.
Amenities: Visitors wishing to pre-pay a group's parking fee should call the park beforehand. Some activities require a special use permit, which can take up to 30 days to receive. The park is open daily 8 a.m. to sunset; there are no designated swimming areas.
Shelter 1 Tent Shelter. This shelter, which has a vinyl tent cover, is available for reservations May through October. The area, without the tent set up, is available at a reduced rate from November through April. When not reserved, it's available first-come, first-served.
The universally accessible shelter is a 40 x 20 foot framed tent. There are no holes in the center, and the sides are open. The floor is gravel. There are eight picnic tables and two pedestal charcoal grills. It seats 50 people at one time. Groups of more than 50 but fewer than 100 people can use the site (although shelter rental does not guarantee sole usage of the area open to the general public). Erecting additional tents is not permitted. Additional tables and grills are not allowed. Parking space is adequate, but it may be necessary on busy weekends to offload supplies and park elsewhere in the park, still within walking distance. The shelter is near a general picnicking area that the general public uses. Restrooms are about 60 feet away. There are no electric outlets or water hydrants.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Explorers Hall in the visitor center accommodates up to 30 people for meetings and educational sessions. It can be configured various ways to suit your group's needs. Audiovisual equipment is available, or bring your own. Contact the park for more information and to rent the hall for your next meeting.
HISTORY: In 1965, the Mason Neck Conservation Committee was formed after two bald eagle nests were spotted at Mason Neck. The committee, concerned about impending development on the peninsula, recommended part of the area to be used as a site for a state park. In August 1967 the state, with the aid of matching federal grants, began buying land parcels from private landowners and the Nature Conservancy.
A series of events threatened the sanctity of Mason Neck in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After plans for a proposed beltway through the area were dropped in 1967, an airport, a natural gas pipeline, a landfill and a sewer line were proposed for the area. These proposals met strong opposition from groups such as the Mason Neck Conservation Committee. Plans for the projects were dropped because of the potential negative impact each had on the federally operated Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and Mason Neck State Park. Mason Neck State Park opened to the public in April 1985.
Master plans must be written for parks before they're built.
The plans are updated at least once every five years thereafter.
The plans cover the size, types, infrastructure and locations of facilities as well as the site's special features and resources.
Three public meetings are held during the initial development of each plan.
Click here (PDF) for this park's master plan.
masonneck. Learn more about park offerings by calling 1-800-933-PARK or email resvs. Be sure to specify the park of interest. Click here to reserve the park's picnic shelter.