Sunday, October 23, 2005

Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County

Wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Virginia
According to its website, Huntley Meadows Park "is a rich, natural island in the suburban sea of Northern Virginia." Truer words are rarely written. Down Route 1, among ever-present strip malls and asphalt sprawl lies an incongruous oasis of natural splendor. Be sure to visit the interpretive center to better understand the ecological and historical value of the park.

Hiking along the trails at Huntley Meadows is quite effortless -- too easy, we thought at first, but the copious flora and fauna provide ample distraction. A flat, wooded trail turns into a raised boardwalk overlooking a vast, cattail-laden wetland. Here's a shortened list of the animals we saw:

A dozen turtles.
One snapping turtle.
Two deer.
Dozens of swifts.
A dozen or so Canadian Geese.
Several preying mantises.
Dozens of woolly caterpillars.
Several large spiders.

Turtles sunning in a wetland

It may be misanthropic to say, but the most irritating parts of this park are its human visitors. The unchallenging trails lend themselves to a particular demographic: frustratingly slow elderly people and loud, obnoxious children.

Oh well, for the more adventurous there is an "informal trail." While not necessarily more challenging than the other trails, the term "informal" seems to fend off the noisy and slow-moving.


Although we were initially disappointed by the less wild elements at Huntley Meadows -- short, flat trails, families with strollers, and screaming children scaring off the wildlife -- it was ultimately difficult to drag ourselves out of the solitude and peace we found along the "informal trail".

Tree and vines in the forest

Leaving Huntley Meadows, our only regret was that we'd made such early dinner plans -- to which we were unremorsefully late.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obvisously, you are no birder -- they are Canda geese not Candanian.
One day you too will be a frustratingly show "elderly" person, and I hope you will still be able to enjoy the natural beauty of Huntley Meadows.

5:59 PM  

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