Confession: I’m a total sucker for Facebook clickbait about fun things to do in northern Virginia. I follow a bunch of NoVA tourism accounts and I can reliably be counted on to click every link that begins with a sentence like “7 THINGS EVERY VIRGINIAN MUST DO AT LEAST ONCE” or “TOP 10 BEST VIRGINIA TOWNS FOR SUMMER ADVENTURE.” You get the picture. Well, I guess it’s not clickbait if it actually leads to an amazing hike, right? Because when the headline “VIRGINIA’S SECRET GARDEN TRAIL” popped up at me over the winter, obviously I clicked on it – and discovered a hidden gem.
Tucked away in Centreville, Virginia is Bull Run Regional Park. And tucked away in Bull Run Regional Park is the Bluebell Loop Trail, which most of the year is just a nice pleasant meander through the woods, but which becomes a riot of color and glory for a couple of weeks in early to mid-April, when the bluebells are blooming. Which they are. Right now. So – here’s your PSA: if you are local to D.C., drop everything and go do this hike right now. I’ll wait.
I did extensive research to determine which weekend would be the best for viewing the bluebells at their most glorious, and determined that last weekend seemed like the choice. A quick call over to the park confirmed the decision – a ranger informed me that the bluebells were blooming by Wednesday and would be at peak over the weekend. Thanks – we’ll see you then!
Peanut wanted to walk, and she actually did most of the trail on foot – good girl! And even better, she was very well-behaved and did not pick a single flower, which I know was just killing her. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The trail picks up with a little jaunt over a boardwalk – no bluebells in sight just yet. We were pretty sure that we were going the right way, though, thanks to the excellent signage. We enjoyed listening to frogsong in the wetlands, and Nugget pointed out several logs that he was convinced were alligators.
And then – all of a sudden, out of nowhere – bluebells!
They were literally everywhere you looked. The entire forest floor was carpeted in bluebells, bluebells as far as the eye could see. We all stopped in our tracks and just gaped.
I assure you, these pictures do absolutely no justice to the pure, unadulterated glory of this trail. I’ve never seen anything like it – even the hill by my parents’ camp, which is carpeted in periwinkles in the summer, couldn’t compete. I’m convinced there is a corner of Heaven that looks just. like. this.
Peanut was in her element. She absolutely loves flowers. She pranced down the trail shouting “FLOWER PETALS, this is beautiful!” while Nugget repeated “FLOWER PETALS!” from the backpack like a little echo.
I was very proud that she didn’t pick a single one, though. We practice “leave no trace” on our hikes – leave nothing but footprints; take nothing but photographs – and I knew that was going to be a challenge this time. Peanut has a case of sticky fingers when it comes to flowers. It’s sweet, because she wants to pick them for me, but we can’t encourage it. After she came home with a big bouquet of stolen daffodils from the school garden (but really, who let her in there unsupervised?) we had to talk to her about making sure she asks permission before picking a bouquet for Mommy, as much as Mommy loves flowers too.
But she was a good girl, and she had an absolute ball.
So did someone else. Little dude was pretty good about not clamoring to be let out of the backpack – I think it helped that we kept up a pretty good clip, and that there was so much to see – lots of birds, dogs, and of course all the flowers.
I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I knew that my photos were a very poor shadow of what was actually all around me, but I couldn’t help myself.
Seriously – what a gorgeous hike. As we walked along, eyes popping out of our heads at the beauty all around us, I told Steve that I thought this was the best hike we’ve done all year. He replied, “It’s one of the best hikes we’ve done ever.” I agreed – some hikes, you just know when your boots hit the trail, are hikes for the ages. Hall Ranch in Lyons; Bear Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park; the Adirondack high peaks; pretty much every Great Falls hike ever – and the Bluebell Trail.
We made it back to the car drunk on spring beauty. Some of us were so overcome that we had to eat our zippers. (Not naming names, but…)
Bull Run, thank you for a perfect morning. We’ll be back before long, because this is certainly a park to experience in all seasons. But next spring – and every spring, as long as we live here – will find us on the Bluebell Loop Trail, because glory like this must be savored and savored again.
What’s your quintessential spring hike?