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When it comes to finding hiking trails that combine history with the elements of nature, Northern Virginia is a destination that can’t be beat. Whether you’d like to stay within close proximity of the D.C. beltway or you don’t mind wandering off the beaten path a bit, there are plenty of hiking trails in the area for a wide range of skill levels.
Most seasoned hikers have probably heard of Shenandoah National Park. The massive Shenandoah National Park passes through parts of eight Northern Virginia counties and contains more than 500 miles of hiking trails. One of the most popular is Big Devils Stairs, which is considered a moderate hike that rewards with amazing canyon views. You’ll find both guided and private hikes, as well as “Twilight Hikes,” designed for guests to experience the mountain sky’s dramatic changing colors as dusk falls.
If you’re looking for something on the less strenuous side without compromising stunning natural views, Great Falls Park in McLean is a favorite hiking trail option for many travelers. Just 15 minutes from Washington, D.C., the 800-acre park sits on the banks of the breathtaking Potomac River. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest that you pause on one of the platforms throughout Great Falls Park to experience various vantage points of the cascading falls.
Located along the historic Bull Run — as well as being one of Fairfax County’s best kept secrets — Bull Run Occoquan Trail covers 17 miles and 4,000 acres of breathtaking woodlands. This is definitely one Northern Virginia trail that isn’t suitable for novice hikers; you’ll be traversing steep hillsides and deep ravines.