New Years Day Hikes at Mason Neck State Park

Meet at the Woodmarsh Trail parking lot, which is on the left side of High Point Road about a quarter mile BEFORE the Mason Neck State Park Contact Station
1 January 2019
2 pm

Join the Friends of Mason Neck State Park for a walk to the see the Tundra Swans! This hike is open to everyone.

Each year, the Mason Neck area is host to one of Northern Virginia’s largest concentrations of Tundra Swans. Depending on the day, you may see as many as 400 swans and hear their haunting calls. You may also see other waterfowl, including Northern Pintails, Mergansers, Shovelers, Coots, Black Ducks and Mallards — and who knows what else? Bring your binoculars if you have them. If not, the group will have binoculars and telescopes for people to share. The tide will be high when they get there, which will maximize the likelihood that the birds will be close.

It is about a 1-mile walk on level ground to the bird blind at the marsh. Please wear sturdy shoes because it may be a little muddy.

There is no charge for the hike, no registration, and no need to pay the State Park entrance fee. NOTE: Due to the partial Federal Government shutdown, the rest rooms at the Woodmarsh Trail are closed. You can use the restrooms at Mason Neck State Park picnic area or Visitor Center before or after the hike. Admission to the Park is free on New Years Day.

Please note: if it is unusually cold and the marsh is frozen, the hike will be postponed and the group will announce the postponement on their website.

The Park is also offering First Day Hikes.  There’s an easy-paced 3.5 mile hike at 10 AM; a fast-paced 5.5 mile hike at 11 AM; and a leisurely 1-mile hike at 3 PM.  You can get more details on the hikes at Mason Neck State Park First Day Hikes.  And you can learn about the Virginia Department of Recreation’s Photo Contest and New Year Challenge at First Day Contests.

3 replies
  1. Sheila Nemeth
    Sheila Nemeth says:

    Hi..are you offering other hikes to see the tundra swans?
    Are swans still there?
    How long will they be there..appox?
    I wish I knew about 1st say hike..sounds wonderful☺

  2. Janet Quinn
    Janet Quinn says:

    The Friends of Dyke Marsh (, who conducted the tundra swan hike, sent out a newsletter with information about the tundra swans this year. Apparently there were not many to be seen.

    Where Are the Tundra Swans?
    The Tundra Swan population at the Great Marsh seems to be lower than it has been in a long time. In some years, as many as 400 of the beautiful white birds call the marsh their winter home. This year, there have seldom been more than 100, and often fewer than 20 Tundra Swans are present.
    So why are there so few Tundra Swans this year? The answer lies in the heavy and frequent rains we had throughout most of 2018. The DC area experienced rainfall that was 67% higher than average, and nearly equal to the rainfall for 2016 and 2017 combined. The rains increased water levels and silt in the rivers and bays and reduced the clarity of the water, hampering the growth of vegetation.
    Nancy Rybicki, an expert on submerged aquatic vegetation with the US Geological Survey, concluded after canoeing the Potomac north of Mason Neck that the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation was the poorest she had seen in decades. Without vegetation, plant-eating waterfowl such as Tundra Swans have less to eat and fly off to find better food supplies.
    If rainfall returns to normal this year, we’ll probably see more Tundra Swans next winter.

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