Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria

I had been planning to blog about the trip we took to this wetlands in Alexandria, then the Washington Post went and ran a story about it. (Read it here http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/13/AR2007061301427.html) In any case, I knew my kids would love the boardwalk through the wetlands because they like wading in streams to catch tadpoles and that sort of thing. Here are my tips for your trip:

* Don’t be daunted by the prospect of navigating 495 and its awful traffic/construction mess. It’s worth the drive. Just be prepared for detours along the way.

* Plan to spend at least a couple of hours at the park, so bring drinks and snacks. There’s a good-sized playground at the entrance, where you can begin or end your visit. Be sure to stop in the nature center, where you can pick up brochures about the park and get directions as to exactly where to start the trail leading to the boardwalk. You’ll also want to have the kids go potty inside the center before you start the trail.

* Don’t forget the bug spray. While we weren’t bothered by bugs while on the boardwalk, we were waving our hands in our faces during the trail walk through the woods.

* If you have toddlers, bring a stroller or wagon. The entire circuit of trail and boardwalk is quite long, and you’ll be glad not to have to carry the little ones all the way back. The trail is hard-packed ground, so even regular strollers won’t have a problem. You can rest along the way rather frequently because they thoughtfully provided benches along the trail, but you can also eat your lunch or snacks on picnic tables outside of the nature center.

For pictures, go to http://picasaweb.google.com/GuamTubby

For more information about the park, go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/huntley/

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