Best time to go: 03/01 - 09/30
Virginia has 63 State Parks, and Sky Meadows is the jewel in the crown. Gifted to the state in 1975 by philanthropist Paul Mellon, the thousand acre park earned its name from a former owner who likened his farm to Scotland’s Isle of Skye.
It’s also a fitting name for a park dominated by mountain meadows, many of which are accessible to little ones. The main entrance parking lot is just steps away from the loop trail to Piedmont Overlook, which has benches and 180° views of Virginia farmland. Because the entire walk from the parking lot is an open meadow, you are guaranteed a perfect view and picnic spot at whatever point your sense of adventure is overwhelmed with fatigue.
Over one-fourth of the Appalachian Trail passes through Virginia, and with the possible exception of Raven Rocks, Sky Meadows offers the easiest access from Washington, DC. Just a short walk through the woods beyond the overlook will take you to a side trail that links to the AT. Where the trails connect, you will find the best views in the park and, arguably, all of Virginia.
Although the majority of people will come for the easy hike and accessible views, the park offers a number of other attractions. Those interested in history will discover a Revolutionary War era farm, complete with out buildings and a restored 1780s farmhouse, which you can tour. On the way in from the main entrance there is also a cutoff road which takes you to campsites and a children’s activity area.
The secret entrance to Sky Meadows State Park
Taking a left onto 17 towards Paris, VA will take you to a less frequented park entrance with a small pond and trail through the surrounding farmland.More information: dcr.virginia.gov