The Mason Neck Loop showcases an urban area’s outstanding effort to conserve important areas for wildlife. The Washington, D.C.-Alexandria metropolitan area, through proactive planning, has preserved a network of parks that provide invaluable habitat and recreational opportunities for wildlife watchers. Birders can view approximately 300 bird species within a ten minute drive of downtown Washington. This juxtaposition of dense human population and biodiversity is a rare occurrence. The loop begins at the base of I-495, one of our nation’s most crowded highways, and extends to the hidden estuarine treasures along the Potomac. Sites like Jones Point and Riverside Parks provide wildlife hotspots that offer food and cover for resident and migratory birds. The loop trail moves slightly inland to the spectacular Huntlry Meadows Park. This bottomland forest is home to species such as barred owl, which require large forests in order to thrive-a difficult proposition in an area surrounded by development. The route returns south along the Potomac River to a string of parks running from Accotink to Occoquan Bays. These less visited parks offer extensive trails, rich wildlife diversity, and water-based wildlife viewing. Mason Neck’s natural oases provide rich wildlife viewing opportunities year-round, With lodging, food, and travel accommodations nearby, the loop easily combines with any trip, business or leisure, to our nation’s capital.
Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce