Leesylvania State Park

I was flipping through Barbara Noe’s guidebook of easy hikes around the D.C. metro and I realized that I had never visited Leesylvania State Park before.

This compact park, a one-hour drive from home, lies on a nose of land jutting into the Potomac and bisected by a CSX railway line (the RF&P subdivision). I took the walk highlighted in Noe’s book, which follows the Lee’s Woods Trail, a two-mile loop across the headland of Freestone Point.

the view from MarylandThe point is composed of sandstone, a building material so easily quarried by previous-century settlers that, so the local lore goes, it’s as if someone had posted a sign that read “free stone.”

crossing the lineThe commonwealth-state boundary runs close to the Virginia shore here, so the fishing pier just downriver is technically in Maryland. The river breeze out of the south was quite fresh, so I did not linger long on the pier.

The trail requires only grippy, sturdy sneakers: some gravel road, a little climbing, and a little mud. Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus) can be found on the ridgetops. There are ample opportunities for river overlooks. The big natural attraction along this stretch of the river, of course, is Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), and I spotted birds three times. At least twice I heard an odd whickering vocalization that could only have come from the eagles, sort of a “whee-whee-kir-kir-kir.”