Great Day Trips 2011: Birdwatch on Canoes

Lorton’s Mason Neck State Park is an ideal place to paddle calm waters
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Mason Neck State Park offers calm waters for canoeing. And you may spot egrets, ospreys, and bald eagles.
Photograph by Babsona via Flickr/Creative Commons, Illustrations by Alli Arnold

The Day’s Adventure: On a quiet peninsula on the Potomac River, Mason Neck State Park in Lorton is an ideal place to paddle calm waters and see a good assortment of songbirds, raptors, and migratory and shore birds.

Lay of the Land: The park rents canoes and kayaks and offers 2½-hour guided trips on both ($15 to $20 a person). On the shore, it’s easy to spot great blue herons, ospreys, ducks, geese, egrets, and bald eagles. Trips are Saturday at 9 and 4, Sunday at 9, April through October. Eagles are more often sighted in the morning. You see so many birds because the 1,825-acre park backs up to 2,277-acre Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. No canoeing in the refuge.

Insider Tip: Twilight tours run in the state park on the Friday evenings of full moons. The west-facing shore on the small bay makes for spectacular sunsets.

Rest and Refuel: Glory Days Grill, a regional chain, serves hearty pub fare for hungry paddlers. Large flat-screen TVs let you catch up on the day’s games. Try a steak, a 4 sandwich, or a burger. It also has salads and a gluten-free menu.

Speed Dial:
Mason Neck State Park
Lorton; 703-339-2380
Reservations are required for all tours.

Glory Days Grill
9459 Lorton Market St., Lorton; 703-372-1770

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