Hike Sky Meadows State Park to see beautiful fall foliage

Posted By Katie on Sep 23, 2013

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Fall in Virginia speaks to my soul.  I’m sure my eight-year drought of fall color when I lived in Texas contributed to my longing for fall.  Something about the warm, sunny days giving way to crisp, fall evenings makes me want to camp, hike, walk, and drive just to spend every minute I can outside enjoying the fall weather.

Today I’m sharing a great hike in Sky Meadows State Park the kids and I took this summer that would be AMAZING in mid-October when the leaves change.  And by the way, if you want to know when and where to find beautiful fall foliage in Virginia, check out the weekly fall foliage report from the Virginia Department of Forestry.  Weekly updates begin the end of September.

Sky Meadows State Park

Beautiful views of the valley at the beginning of our Sky Meadows State Park hike.

One reason I loved Sky Meadows State Park is that it close and easy to access from the Washington D.C. area.  The day I visited I only had four hours round-trip for my outing, and I was able to drive, hike with my kids, and return home before noon.  You could certainly spend much more time there, and our hike was limited by the distance my two-year-old was willing to walk (or I was willing to carry him), but the accessibility of Sky Meadows State Park makes this a great place for those looking for a shorter outing.

Sky Meadows State Park

The first part of the trail is a dirt road.

Hiking Trails at Sky Meadows State Park

Sky Meadows State Park has over 17 miles of hiking trails.  Click here for PDF version of the trail map.  With my young kids, I started from the parking lot and headed for Gap Run trail.  The first section of our hike was along a gravel road, and then we hiked on a well-maintained trail.  The trails were well sign-posted and the map was easy to follow.  There were routes to shorten our hike when my kids tired, but we could easily have continued on enjoying the hike.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Sky Meadows State Park was how peaceful it was.  The day we hiked we only saw one other couple hiking, and we were alone in the woods listening to the sounds of the forest all morning.  I truly love hiking to waterfalls and popular routes in places like Shenandoah National Park, but the quiet peacefulness of this outing made for a different and enjoyable experience.

Sky Meadows State Park

Good maps and signs made this park easy to navigate.

Other Activities at Sky Meadows State Park

Tour Mount Bleak House to see how a middle-class farm lived in the mid-1800s.  The park offers nature programs in the spring, summer, and fall, including some festivals such as the Delaplane Strawberry Festival.  Consider horseback riding, fishing, or primitive camping at Sky Meadows State Park.

Sky Meadows State Park

Tour Mount Bleak House

Good to Know

Where:  45-60 minutes from Northern Virginia, just over 1 hour from Washington D.C.

When:  Nature programs and visitor’s center open 11-5, Monday-Friday, and 10-5 on Saturday and Sunday.  Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

How much:  $3 per car on weekdays, $4 on weekends.

Amenities:  Bathrooms at trailhead and and small visitor’s center and gift shop near Mount Bleak House.  Primitive camping available.



Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.

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