In 1965, several bald eagles’ nests were discovered on Mason Neck, a peninsula nestled between the Occoquan and Potomac rivers. Later that year, conservationists in the area founded the Mason Neck Conservation Committee and dedicated themselves to the preservation of the area as an important nesting habitat for these eagles. After success in deterring several proposed construction projects and purchasing parcels of land on the neck, the preservation efforts of the committee paid off. Twenty years later, in 1985, Mason Neck State Park opened its gates to the public. Thanks to the tireless efforts of these conservationists, the park is still home to many bald eagle nesting sites.
Today the park has over 6 miles of hiking trails, 3 miles of paved multiuse trails, several waterways and a large picnic area. The hiking trails provide visitors with fantastic birding opportunities. Multiple trails are built with boardwalks that allow hikers to immerse themselves in the wetlands and get a chance to view great blue herons and other wading birds that call these marshlands home. Birding blinds are also abundant in the park, and are a great place for birders and wildlife photographers hoping to maximize bird sightings.
The visitor center offers both hourly and daily canoe and kayak rentals as well as guided canoe trips. The Kanes Creek and Belmont Bay guided canoe tours are a visitor favorite. Getting out on the water is often the best way to view the eagles and their nests. Paddlers can put in at the park’s canoe launch, but there is no boat ramp for larger boats in the park. Anglers need either a Maryland or Virginia state fishing license to enjoy the park’s brackish water fishing. The park has no designated swimming areas.
Mason Neck State Park is for day use only and has no camping or lodging facilities. A large picnic shelter is available for rent by contacting the park office. For additional eagle watching opportunities, check out the Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge that borders the park.