Invite Flying Squirrels to Your Backyard with a Feeding Box, October 23rd

Photo: Fairfax County Park Authority, Flying Squirrel in feeding box

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale, Virginia

Program fee for two people: $15.00
Extra supply fee: $25.00

Click here for more information and registration details. 

Flying squirrels are just as common as grey squirrels in our area. As they are nocturnal, flying squirrels often glide under our radar. From November through March, they are easy to welcome to backyards with large trees.

Families can learn proven strategies to encourage these amazing native flying squirrels to your treed backyard. A naturalist will show you how to recognize their presence and guide you in assembling a feeding box to take home. Two attendees are permitted per registration (one adult and one child over age 4 or two adults). This is an outdoor program. Please bring your own hammer and Phillips-head screwdriver. A $25 supply cost will be included at check out. The program fee for two people is $15.

“Make Your Own Flying Squirrel Feeding Box” is on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, from 1 to 2 p.m. at Hidden Oaks.

Crawl Into Fall With Bug Fest at Lewinsville Historic House – now on October 22nd

Photo: FMN Kate Luisa

Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022 (rain date due to Hurricane Ian)
10:00AM – 2:00PM

Lewinsville Park
1659 Chain Bridge Road
McLean, Virginia 22101

Click here for registration details.

Lewinsville Park is featuring Bug Fest on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Come celebrate all things bugs with a creepy-crawly adventure! This event is fun for the whole family Play games and activities including insect safaris, explore live insects, inspect insect collections, log rolling, soil stations, bug walks, critter talks, bug experiments, and make your own bug. Use technology to explore the world of insects. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.


Fairfax Parks Joins 2022 Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz, September 16th through September 25th

Photo: National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

Article from the Fairfax County Park Authority, Park News September 7, 2022

The Fairfax County Park Authority is taking part in this year’s Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz and is actively looking for volunteers to participate. Parks for Pollinators is a national campaign focused on raising public awareness of the diversity and importance of pollinators as part of our ecosystem.

This volunteer event takes place Friday, Sept. 16 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Participation in the BioBlitz is as easy as going outdoors in your neighborhood, backyard or local Fairfax County park, and snapping pictures of wild pants, insects, bats and hummingbirds using the iNaturalist app. iNaturalist is totally free and available as both a phone app and internet-based web app.

Volunteers can sign up on the Park Authority’s website and log observations in any of the 429 Fairfax County Park Authority parks. Registrants will receive links to virtual trainings and may log their volunteer hours through the Park Authority’s system. For more information about participation in this fun and engaging volunteer opportunity, visit the Fairfax County volunteer website.

The Parks for Pollinator BioBlitz is organized by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). For more information about pollinators and current threats facing them, please visit the National Recreation and Park Association’s Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz website.

Kite Flyers Reminded of Dangers of String, Filament Left Behind

Photo: FCPA, Susan Laume

Article from the Fairfax County Park Authority, Park News September 7, 2022

Flying a kite seems simple, but there are strings attached to this fun activity. If you fly a kite and leave behind kite string filament, you may be responsible for injuring or trapping wildlife. You may also impede park maintenance and damage equipment, and you may even potentially injure people who get tangled in kite string.

This summer, there have been groups and individuals flying kites above Laurel Hill Park, the Central Green and Laurel Hill Golf Club. Generally, kite flying is a welcomed activity and fairly benign; however, over the past few months, several incidents have occurred that cause concern.

Kite string filament is being found in trees and on the ground. Park patrons, wildlife managers and Park Authority staff are regularly documenting harm to birds, reptiles and other wildlife caught in kite line. FCPA site maintenance expenditures are rising due to kite string being wrapped up in mowers and other site-specific vehicles. Animal Control has been called on occasion to free animals trapped by the line and tend to their injuries. Even people can be at risk of injury while pulling the string out of trees or running into kite filament dangling from trees.

So how can you assist in solving this problem? The Fairfax County Park Authority is in the process of developing signage to communicate kite-flying rules and safety information, providing more trash cans in the area, and trying to contact any groups or individuals who may be flying kites at Laurel Hill Park.

Signage will remind groups or individuals flying kites that they cannot undertake this activity in any park if it is going to cause littering or damage to county property. Those with kites need to fly them in open areas only. They should fly them no closer than 75 feet to trees, power lines, light poles, parking, people or facilities. The use of monofilament line for kite string is prohibited. And, they must dispose of all kites or kite string if not taking it with them when they leave the park.

Once signs are in place, those witnessing violations of the kite-flying rules will be asked to contact police at the non-emergency number 703-691-2131.

For more information, call the Park Authority Public Information Office at 703-324-8662.

Do Your Part! Sign Up for a Watershed Cleanup Day

Photo: Fairfax County Park Authority

Grab a bag and go on a trash scavenger hunt as the Fairfax County Park Authority hosts Watershed Cleanup Days once again this fall.

Join with family, friends, neighbors or colleagues to lend a hand to the Earth. We need your help to remove tires, bottles, cans and other debris from local waterways. Helping to clear the Earth’s vital arteries is a great community volunteer project for service groups and students. All ages are welcome.

Cleanup events kick off on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, at Lake Fairfax Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and runs throughout October at a variety of Fairfax County locations. The sites include:

  • Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 at Lake Fairfax Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at Oak Marr Rec Center from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022 at Lake Accotink Park from 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022 at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 at Providence Rec Center from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Additional sites may still be added. For a complete listing and to sign up as an individual volunteer, visit the Volunteer in Parks webpage. Groups, please call the site of your choice directly.

For general information, contact the Public Information Office at 703-324-8700 or via email at [email protected].

Grand Reopening of Hidden Oaks Nature Center, July 16th

Photo: Courtesy Fairfax County Park Authority, renovated Hidden Oaks Nature Center

Saturday, July 16

10:00am – 1:00pm

Join the Fairfax County Park Authority on Sat. July 16 for festivities celebrating a bigger and better nature center! The event runs from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. and is free to the public. All parking, other than ADA, is at the Packard Center and Annandale Community Park playground, 4030 Hummer Rd. Hidden Oaks’ Grand Reopening is sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Foundation and Friends of Hidden Oaks Nature Center.

  • 10:00-10:30 a.m.
    • Opening Remarks in the Pond View Classroom
    • CAFÉ South Korean Children’s Chorus
    • Mason District Board of Supervisor Penny Gross
    • Mason District Park Authority Board Supervisor Ron Kendall
    • Fairfax County Park Authority Management Team
  • 10:30-10:45 a.m.
    • Ribbon Cutting at New Pond
  • 10:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
    • Community Activities
      • 3-D Microscope: Supported by Transurban 495-95-395 Express Lanes, Rotary Club of Bailey’s Crossroads and Department of Public Works and Environmental Services
      • What’s New? Scavenger Hunt
      • Origami: Sponsored by Artisans United
      • STEM Fun: Bubbles in Nature Place
      • Make a Bug Jar and meet friendly insects in Nature Place
      • Diva Crows
  • 10:45-11:20 a.m.
    • Storytelling in A-Corner Area
  • 11:30-11:45 a.m.
    • Just Four Grins Barbershop Quartet by pond
  • 11:25-11:55 a.m.
    • Nature Puppet Show by Caroline Sietz in Forestview Classroom
  • 12:00-1 :00 p.m.
    • Kick off Latino Conservation Week in Pond View Classroom
    • Announcement of the Tri-Lingual Storybook Trail sponsored by Transurban 495-95-395 Express Lanes.
    • Announcement of the Bi-Lingual QR coded Old Oak Trail
    • Fraternidad Folclórica Cultural Bolivian Children Dancers
  • 1:00 p.m.
    • Cupcakes in the Program Shelter next to the Woodland Wildlife Tree Sculpture


Cost: Free

Registration: Register Online

Hidden Oaks Nature Center Grand Reopening Celebration flyer

Latino Conservation Week Celebrates Community and Nature, July 16th – 24th

Image: Courtesy of the Fairfax County Park Authority

Latino Conservation Week is from July 16-24, 2022. Fairfax County will be celebrating the Latino community’s love of nature. Modeled after the Hispanic Access Foundation’s Latino Conservation Week, the Fairfax County Park Authority together with Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, Defensores de la Cuenca, Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, and other community partners will provide free bilingual (English/Spanish) conservation-themed programs, nature activities and recreational opportunities at parks around the county throughout the week.

To kick off the week, there will be activities at three parks on July 16, 2022, including Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Frying Pan Farm Park and Eakin Park. There will be a capstone event at Justice Park on July 24, 2022. Other Fairfax County Park Authority parks and partners will also offer programs that embrace Latino Conservation Week themes, while working with the Latino community.

Highlights include:

To find additional information about the Latino Conservation Week events, please visit the Latino Conservation week webpage.

Click here for event flyer in Spanish. 

Click here for event flyer in English.

Fairfax County Park Authority Accessible Trails

Photo: Fairfax County Park Authority

Fairfax County has over 334 miles of trails in the County Park system.  The Park Authority’s goal is to provide the public with a trail network that is safe, enjoyable, flexible, maintainable, and environmentally responsible. The Fairfax County Park Authority is also committed to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which includes making programs, services, and facilities accessible for visitors and employees with disabilities.  The County does maintain a list of recommended accessible trails within its trail network.  A list of FCPA accessible trails can be found below.

Click here for information on general characteristics used to denote an accessible trail.


All trails listed below were measured from the closest accessible parking spaces on site to the trail and totaled in a round trip format.


Spring Volunteer Opportunities with the FCPA

Photo:  Robert Collins on Unsplash

The Fairfax County Park Authority has dynamic public programs that need volunteers.  Here is a sample of spring opportunities at Hidden Oaks and for International Dark Sky Awareness Week.  A more complete list is here.  For other opportunities tailored to your interests, talk to the Volunteer Coordinator at your favorite Fairfax County park.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale, VA
Contact: Suzanne Holland, [email protected] 

Sat. April 23 Culmore Community Day from 10-2
at Woodrow Wilson Library, Knollwood Dr., Falls Church, VA

Two opportunities include assisting showing native wildlife to visitors. This will be inside the library and helping children release live native ladybugs outside the side door directly from our nature display room. The other is to assist with surveying attendees as to their thoughts and behaviors regarding county parks with a goal of increasing equitable park opportunities.

Sat. April 23 : Annandale Greenway Earth Day Cleanup from 11:30-12:30at 7200 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA

Assist FMN Marilyn Schroeder in presenting as well as representing for Hidden Oaks at the kickoff presentation for a clean-up between Green Spring Gardens and Annandale Community Park.

Sun. May 15 from 12:30-4:15 (multiple sessions) DinoFest

Need 3 volunteers . Low key program with need to assist preschool age kids with activity at separate stations outside in Nature Playce. Mostly sedentary.

International Dark Sky Awareness Week
Multiple locations
Contact Tammy Schwab, [email protected]

Fairfax County Parks will be celebrating International Dark Sky Awareness Week April 22-30th. FCPA will be having events needing volunteers on April 22 and 23 and also the 29th.

(FMNs record hours as E110:  FCPA Nature Programs.  In the Description, include the name of the park and the name of the program.  In Direct Contacts, write the number of people you spoke to or who attended the program.)

Winter Volunteer Opportunities at Fairfax County Parks

Photo: Suzanne Holland

Volunteering is a year-round adventure at Fairfax County Parks!  Here is a selection of exciting opportunities at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, Hidden Oaks Nature Center, and Riverbend Park.  Have fun!

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park
5040 Walney Rd. Chantilly VA

Projects that volunteers could be working on in the winter:
1. Removal of Japanese bush honeysuckle using weed wrenches from the historic loop area and beyond.
2. Removal of autumn olive trees using hand saws from the corner of the park near the intersection of Walney Rd and Poplar Tree Rd.
To volunteer, contact Gabby Hrycyshyn, Natural Resource Manager, [email protected].
Receive a 1 hour training on identifying and removing Japanese bush honeysuckle and/or autumn olive. Then come in on your own schedule with 1-2 days advance notice so that tools can be made available.

(Master Naturalists:  Record hours as S108: Invasive Plant Removal)

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale VA

Variety of nature programs

Contact Suzanne Holland, [email protected] to volunteer.
Be at site 30 min. prior if assisting, 1 hr. prior if leading.

Salute the Bald Eagle Fr. 1/14 from 7-8 p.m.

Full Moon Nature Hike and Campfire Monday Jan. 17 from 7-8 p.m.

Skiing Penguins and Snowman Fun  Th. Jan. 20 3-4 p.m. or Feb. 17 from 10-11 a.m. or 4-5 pm
Build Your Own Birdfeeder (Pinecone) F Jan. 21 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. or 1-2 p.m. or 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Owl Walk & Talk (ages 2 yr. +) Sa. Feb. 12 5-6 p.m.

(Master Naturalists:  Record hours as E110:  FCPA Nature Programs.  In the Description, include Hidden Oaks and the name of the program.  In Direct Contacts, write the number of people you spoke to or who attended the program.)

Riverbend Park
8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls, VA

Natural Resources Projects, every other Wednesday, 9am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm
Help maintain and protect native plants through plantings, pullings, and projects.
To volunteer, contact Rita Peralta at [email protected]
(Master Naturalists:  Record hours as S109: FCPA Habitat and Parkland Management)

Adopt-a-Spot, every other Wednesday, 9am-12pm or 1-3pm
Adopt an area at Riverbend Park to maintain and care for.
To volunteer, contact Rita Peralta at [email protected]
(Master Naturalists:  Record hours as S109: FCPA Habitat and Parkland Management)

Animal Care, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays
Help us care for our turtles and snakes, must complete training before solo care, schedule flexible.
To volunteer, contact Mo Swirnsky at [email protected]
(Master Naturalists:  Record hours as S182: FCPA Nature Center Animal Care)

Forest Friends, Monday-Friday
Chaperone, craft, organize, accompany on trips/hikes, mentor and teach young children
To volunteer, contact Amy Cullen at [email protected]
(Master Naturalists:  Record hours as E110:  FCPA Nature Programs.  In the Description, include Hidden Oaks and the name of the program.  In Direct Contacts, write the number of people you spoke to or who attended the program.)