Come to the Mason Neck State Park for Guided First Day Hikes, January 1st


Monday, January 1, 2024

Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd, Lorton, VA 22079


Join Park Staff on a guided hike this January 1. First Day Hikes are the perfect way to start the year! Each trail is unique, and the leaders will offer information about the park and its plants and animals along the way. The Visitor Center will be open for more hands on activities, and to warm up if needed!

9:30 am: Kane’s Creek to Eagle Spur trail. Roughly a 3.8 mile hike. Packed dirt trail with stairs and roots. Not wheelchair or stroller friendly.

11:30 am: Tundra Swan Hike at the Woodmarsh Trail at Elizabeth Hartwell Refuge.  Approximately 2.5 miles loop. Not wheelchair friendly, Limited space available for this hike only. Recommended for ages 8 and up. Registration is required. Register at

12:00 pm:Dogue Trail hike and roll. Wheelchair accessible. Approximately 0.85 miles, packed gravel trail.

3:00 pm: Family-friendly hike on Bay View Trail. Approximately 1.25 miles, with stops and hands on opportunities for adventure and exploration. Packed dirt surface trail with boardwalks and exposed roots.

The Friends will provide hot coffee and cocoa from 9:00 to 11:30 AM.

Admission and parking are free on January 1. 

Bench Dedication Honors McGlone

Photos and Article By FMN Susan Laume

A group of Fairfax Master Naturalists gathered on Saturday afternoon, December 2nd, to recognize the contributions of retired Virginia forester Dr. Jim McClone.  A bench was dedicated in his honor on a Mason Neck State Park trail, where McClone regularly took naturalists in training to learn tree identification.

Bench plaque expresses gratitude for McGlone’s many years of service to the FMN chapter

Recently retired in June, McGlone is credited with working to establish the Fairfax County chapter, serving as chapter advisor, and teaching dendrology to hundreds of Virginia Master Naturalists students.

Attending with his wife, who McGlone credits with steering him toward his long time career. McGlone also received the thanks of Officer Taylore Willis, representing the State Park. Following the remarks, McGlone again led a winter tree identification; perhaps proving his gum balls don’t yet fall far from his favorite Black Gum trees.

Fairfax Master Naturalists gather to recognize retired forester Jim McClone


Officer Taylore Willis makes remarks on behalf of Mason Neck State Park

McGlone and his wife, who he thanked during the dedication, look forward to spending retirement time together


Fairfax Master Naturalist Chapter Project Update

Photo credits:  Overgrown Woodland Edge Garden picture by Paul Van Rjin, Friends of Mason Neck State Park

FMN Chapter Project Update by Sarah Mayhew

The pollinator gardens at Mason Neck State Park remain a work in progress.  Some of them are looking beautiful and others are still looking neglected.  That is because we are responsible for reclaiming 6 different pollinator garden beds.  Five of them are looking good.  The sixth one is the largest — the Woodland Edge Garden is 56 ft x 52 ft or almost 3000 sq. ft.  Our two July workdays focused on getting 1/3 of the Woodland Edge Garden cleared for “smothering” the Japanese Honeysuckle under black plastic.  Here are the before, during, and after pictures of that work:

Photo credits Overgrown Woodland Edge Garden by Paul Van Rjin, Friends of Mason Neck State Park


Photo credits Smothering Woodland Edge Garden by Paul Van Rjin, Friends of Mason Neck State Park


Photo by Sarah Mayhew, FMN Gerald Rob Warren with weed whacker Mason Neck Chapter Project


Photo by Sarah Mayhew, FMN Chapter Project mowed Woodland Edge Garden

As you can see, there was a lot growing and then we cut it all down to ground level.  The next workday our volunteers laid down the black plastic, creatively repurposing the chicken wire we removed from the fence to help weigh down the plastic!

Our August workdays will be on Tuesday, August 8, and Saturday, August 12, 2023.  We have moved the start time to 9:00 a.m. to avoid the heat.  Our goal for these two days is to remove a large multiflora rose bush and selectively weed some invasives from the remaining two thirds of the garden that is in much better shape.  We will be identifying many native plants as we go, so you will have a good opportunity to learn new plants, too.  You can sign up to help us here:  Mason Neck State Park Pollinator Garden


There is one more update to the Chapter Project schedule.  We discovered in July that our “second Saturday” schedule conflicts with the Green Breakfasts.  We are moving our workdays to a “third Saturday and third Tuesday” schedule beginning in September.  We don’t want to deprive any member of the Continuing Education opportunity the Green Breakfasts provide.  Keep learning!

Great News to Share About the FMN Chapter Project at Mason Neck State Park – Volunteers Are Still Needed

FMN Chapter Project update and photo from Sarah Mayhew, President, Fairfax Chapter Virginia Master Naturalists:

After three very busy workdays, the Mason Neck State Park Pollinator Gardens are looking great. Fairfax Master Naturalists, working with volunteers from the Friends of Mason Neck State Park, have weeded four flower beds around the Visitors Center building. They installed 50 plants into rock hard ground. Finally, the beds were aerated with garden forks and top dressed with a 5-inch-thick layer of compost.  June 17th marked the last scheduled workday. The volunteers cleaned out two of the rain barrels and sat up soaker hoses in two of the beds in front of the Visitors Center. A third rain barrel was examined to figure out why it wasn’t holding water.  Now, it is time to switch to a “maintenance” schedule. The project will need volunteer support on the second Saturday and the second Tuesday of each month.

The project also has a focus on the Meadow or Circle Garden, which is a fenced area in the middle of the road when you drive up to the Visitors’ Center. This garden has well-established sun-loving flowers, shrubs and trees. A volunteer from the Friends has been spreading arborist wood chips in this area for several weeks. There is a need to spread some compost around the established plants to give them a boost as well as a need to help the Friends finish spreading the wood chips.

Helpful tools for this work include shovels, pitch forks, and rakes to spread the compost and wood chips. If you have a wheelbarrow or cart, please bring it to carry the compost and wood chips short distances to the Meadow Garden. Seeing a finished flower bed at the end of two hours brings great satisfaction. PLEASE, come join us, and become a part of this wonderful FMN Chapter Project!  Sign up is easy; just click this link:

In addition to the regular workdays, volunteers from both organizations have watered every other day to keep the seedlings alive (there are slots on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and a weekend day). This is an easy job, as the hose is right in front of the Visitors’ Center and reaches to all the beds. The Friends have done most of the watering so far. FMN volunteers are needed to help support watering the beds during weeks in July and August. It would be best to have someone claim a slot for a month, this would give the volunteer time to become familiar with the gardens. However, feel free to volunteers as your schedule will allow.  Please contact Sarah Mayhew at [email protected] to volunteer for watering. When you volunteer you get free entrance into the park and can spend the rest of the day kayaking, hiking and birding. Or you can just sit, listen to the birds sing, read a good book, and admire the view across Belmont Bay. The park even provides rocking chairs!

Come to the Eagle Festival, May 13th

Photo: by FMN Ana Ka’ahanui

Saturday, May13, 2023
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, VA 22079

Come to Mason Neck State Park on Saturday May 13 for the Eagle Festival — a day filled with special presentations, shows, and interactive exhibits by environmental organizations. Parking and admission are free!

Secret Garden Birds and Bees, a long-time park favorite, will have two programs with live raptors. There will also be puppet shows for young and old, and programs on reptiles and amphibians. You’ll be entertained by two live bands, and costumed characters will roam the festival grounds. And if you get hungry, the Lions Club will have food and drinks for sale and the Scoops2U food truck will be there with ice cream and sweets.

Be sure to mark the festival on your calendar!

For FMN volunteers please record service hours under E240: Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival-Friends of Mason Neck State Park (FOMNSP).

Wetland Dynamics through the Seasons

Photo: Courtesy of the National Park Service, Vernal Pool

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

This is an On-line program.

Click here for program registration.

Wetlands like those at Mason Neck State Park experience dramatic changes over the course of a year. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park are co-sponsoring the Friends of Dyke Marsh’s online program “Wetland Dynamics through the Seasons” at 7 PM on March 1. The presentation will explore the secrets and wonders of freshwater and tidal wetlands and associated woodland over the course of a year: spring’s avian migrations, quickening of vegetation, burgeoning of myriad invertebrates and the assaults of extreme weather conditions; summertime’s proliferation of flora, fish, fowl and mammals; amazing feats of biological inventiveness during the autumnal preparation for winter; and how plants and animals adapt to winter’s harsh conditions.

The program will be presented by Dr. Colin Rees, retired biodiversity specialist at the World Bank and professor of Zoology at the University of Maryland. He is one of the developers and founders of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary on the Patuxent River, part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in Southern Maryland, which is the focus of his recent book, Nature’s Calendar: A Year in the Life of a Wildlife Sanctuary.


Mason Neck State Park’s Pollinator Gardens Need TLC

Photo: Margaret Fisher

Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Road, Lorton VA

The Park has three pollinator gardens filled with native plants that attract and nourish pollinators. All three gardens need some help. The Park needs volunteers to help weed and mulch the gardens and to keep the more aggressive native and invasive plants  under control. Can you give the gardens some help on a continuing basis or just once on a workday?

Send them an email at [email protected] and they’ll connect you with Friends and Park Staff who are working to keep the gardens beautiful.

MLK Service Day at Mason Neck State Park, January 17th

Photo courtesy of Friends of Mason Neck State Park

Calling all volunteers and groups: Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Day is January 17. Please call or email the park office if you would like to volunteer. They have many great volunteer opportunities such as trail maintenance, shoreline cleanups, scout projects, Visitor Center Assistant and more. They can tailor your volunteer experience specifically for you or your group.

Email: [email protected]          Phone: 703-339-2380

Shoreline Cleanup, Mason Neck State Park, September 25th

Photo: Jerry Nissley

Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, VA 22079
(Meet at the Visitor’s Center)
Saturday, September 25, 2021
9 am

Can you help keep Mason Neck State Park looking good? The Potomac and Occoquan Rivers bring trash of all kinds to the shores of the Park. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park will lead a cleanup of the shoreline on National Public Lands Day (Saturday, September 25). They’ll have gloves, trash bags and a few “grabbers” to help you pick up the smaller stuff. Please bring waterproof shoes or boots. The tide will be high that morning, and you are almost certain to get wet.

For those who are experienced paddlers, they’ll have canoes, paddles and life vests available so you can collect trash that is not acessible from the shore. Thanks to the generosity of Prince William Marina, we’ll have snacks available to keep your energy levels high while you clean up the park.

Take a Walk to See the Tundra Swans

Wednesday, January 1, 2020, 12:15pm

Mason Neck State Park, Lorton VA

Have you ever seen Tundra Swans, those amazing birds that migrate thousands of miles from the Arctic to spend the winter in our region? Their haunting calls are nearly impossible to forget!

You’ve got a great opportunity to see the Tundra Swans at 12:15 pm on January 1, when the Friends of Mason Neck State Park will lead a guided walk to see them. We’ll start from the Woodmarsh Trail parking lot, on the left side of High Point Road a short distance BEFORE you get to the Park’s Contact Station. 

We’ll walk about a mile over fairly level ground to the viewing area. You’ll likely hear the birds before you see them. We’ll have binoculars and telescopes so you can view the swans and other water birds and we’ll also help you identify them. There’s no charge for this event, which is open to everyone. Come out and enjoy the first day of 2020 with the Friends! The trails can be a little muddy, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes or boots. 

Learn more.