Places to Go - Hidden Pond Park & Nature Center (Springfield, VA)


nature trails




On a nice day, there are few places as beautiful to visit as Hidden Pond. As soon as you pull into the parking lot, the first thing you'll encounter is a nice-sized playground. Full of ropes and chains and things to climb (probably best for children over three, though the baby likes the slides and the stairs). The only downside being that the playground is in full sun, so plan accordingly.

After the playground, Hidden Pond has a beautiful, but small nature center, staffed by teenage and college-age volunteers. Every time I go, I'm amazed at how helpful and friendly these kids are (which, I must admit, does help alleviate fears - and boy do I have fears - about the teenage years). And they're great with small kids. They helped teach my girls to use a magnifying glass (to look at tadpoles). And another time, when I went with a friend who has two young boys, the volunteers let the kids witness a snake being fed (my kids had no interest in this, but her boys were FASCINATED). The nature center also has binoculars (to birdwatch and look at the pond), tons of puzzles and lots of animals, many with steps and viewing platforms for small children. Plus, they sell candy and other various small knickknacks.

After the nature center, there's a stroller-friendly circular loop trail that goes around the pond. The trail is short (I'd guess less than 0.5 miles), but beautiful. Along the way there are tons of benches and quite a few docks and platforms. If you ask at the nature center, you can borrow "nets" for fishing/exploring the pond (which is bright green, I should warn you). There are also several longer trails, but we never get to go because if my kids still have energy, they want to head back to the playground.

All in all, this is one of my favorite "outside" places to go with kids - the playground, nature center, pond combination makes everyone happy, even the baby.

For more information, click here - http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/hiddenpond/ I know they also offer a variety of nature classes, but I'm not sure where Fairfax county publishes this information.

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