MASON NECK STATE PARK
Mason Neck State Park is situated on a peninsula formed by Pohick Bay on the north, Belmont Bay on the south and the Potomac River on the east. The peninsula is the site of an active heron rookery. The park also attracts several other migrating and non-migrating species of birds, including whistling swans and assorted species of duck. Bald eagles also inhabit the area. The park boasts several hundred acres of hardwood forests consisting of oaks, holly, hickory and other species of trees. In addition, several wetland areas are also found in Mason Neck.
Land was purchased over the years from the The Nature Conservancy. The park connects with a National Wildlife Refuge that includes over 2,000 acres. The park opened to the public in 1985.
In 1965, the Mason Neck Conservation Committee was formed after two bald eagle nests were spotted at Mason Neck. The committee, concerned about impending development on the peninsula, recommended part of the area to be used as a site for a state park. In August 1967 the commonwealth began purchasing land parcels from The Nature Conservancy with the assistance of matching federal grants.
A series of events threatened the sanctity of Mason Neck in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After plans for a proposed beltway through the area were dropped in 1967, an airport, a natural gas pipeline, a landfill and a sewer line were proposed for the area. These proposals met strong opposition from groups such as the Mason Neck Conservation Committee. Plans for the projects were dropped because of the potential negative impact each had on the federally operated Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge and Mason Neck State Park. Mason Neck State Park opened to the public in April 1985.
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Mason Neck State Park is located near Alexandria, Annandale and Arlington
One shelter is available for rent through the Reservations Center at 1-800-933-7275 (PARK). Parking fees are not included in shelter rental. Click here for park fees. The shelter can be rented from 8 a.m. to dark (all day). Customers renting all day must leave park at sunset. This shelter is rented with a tent cover May through October each year by reservation only. Other months of year, it's an open-air, first-come, first-served picnic area with tables and grills.
Cancellation policy: No refund within 14 days before reserved date. Before then, there's a cancellation fee of $10.
Amenities: Visitors should contact the park to pre-pay parking fees for their group as a whole. The use of a caterer requires a special use permit, which can take up to 30 days to receive. The park is open daily 8 a.m. to sunset; there's no swimming at this park.
Shelter 1 Tent Shelter (small). The shelter is a 40 x 20 foot framed tent; there are no holes in the center, and sides are open. The floor is gravel. The tent's roof is vinyl. There are 10 picnic tables and two pedestal charcoal grills. It seats 50 people at one time; a group of more than 50 but fewer than 100 people can use the site (although shelter rental does not guarantee sole usage of the area open to the general public). Guests will need to bring lawn chairs. Erecting additional tents is not permitted. Additional tables and grills, likewise, is discouraged. Parking space is adequate, but it may be necessary on busy weekends to offload supplies and park elsewhere in the park, still within walking distance. The shelter is near a general picnicking area that the general public uses. Restrooms are about 60 feet away. There are no electric outlets or water hydrants.
Hiking, biking and self-guided trails. More than three miles of hiking trails wind through the park providing a glimpse of nature by the bay. Elevated walkways allow visitors to explore some of the marsh areas in the park. Ten bicycles are available for rent by the hour.
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The park is in the southwest corner of Fairfax County, approximately 20 miles from Washington, D.C. Access to the park is via U.S. 1, then five miles east on Route 242 (Gunston Road) to the park entrance.