Algonkian Nature Preserve

Welcome to the Algonkian Nature Preserve’s home away from home here on Imagine. Here you’ll find everything needed to take advantage of this wonderful natural resource located right in our back yard. The ANP, which is located at Algonkian Regional Park, is bordered by the Algonkian driving range to the West, the Algonkian golf course and Old Sugarland Run to the South, Trump National golf course to the East, and the Potomac River to the North.

Following is a breakdown of what the ANP has to offer.

Well Being in Nature Therapy Walks

Forest Therapy, also known as “Shinrin-Yoku”, refers to the science based practice of spending time in forested areas for the purpose of enhancing health, wellness, and happiness. Participants are invited to experience nature in a way that invites healing interactions. The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest. The Japanese words translate into English as “Forest Bathing”. Forest Therapy walks differ from traditional nature walks in that the former focuses on one’s relationship to nature on a personal and sometimes spiritual level while the later is mostly concerned with intellectual content. This view of healing interactions implies some baseline requirements for Forest Therapy:

  • There is a specific intention to connect with nature in a healing way to increase our well-being. This requires mindfully moving through the landscape in ways that cultivate presence, attention to our five senses, and actively receiving the gifts of the land.
  •  As we do this we begin to perceive more deeply the subtle and constant stream of communications abundant in any natural setting.
  • Growing a meaningful relationship with nature increases over time, and is deepened by engaging the natural cycles of the seasons in a specific area.
  • During contemplation in nature we will engage the practices of:  an observation sitting spot, a tea ceremony, small sketches and more.

Traditional Nature Walks

Come walk the complex ever changing woods and meadows of the ANP. Being traditional nature walks, we’ll cover many areas ecology important to the Virginia piedmont and Potomac River floodplains in particular. We’ll get into everything from native trees and wildflowers to how things have changed due to the impact of man and animals. Every season is different so you will want to take these walks often.

Night Hikes

Join us for a night of exploration as we hike in the forest under a moonlit sky. From the sounds way up in the forest canopy to the rapid rustling of leaves on forest floor, you’ll enjoy the unusual sights, sounds and sensations of the Algonkian Nature Preserve at night.

Community Service Opportunities

To be sure, the Algonkian Nature Preserve is a long term project that will be heavily dependent on the generosity of the general public in terms of donated time and money over the coming years. Service opportunities will mostly be in the area of helping build and maintain the ANP’s accessible trail, invasives control, trash cleanup and helping tend the ANP pollinator meadow.


Building and maintaining an accessible nature trail can be fairly expensive. Unlike a natural surface trail, there is a material cost associated with every foot of trail that is built. You can help complete the Algonkian Nature Preserves accessible nature trail by making a donation. Every dollar you donate goes to buying critical raw materials such as gravel and pressure treated lumber. Simply call (703) 450-4655 or drop by the park office/pro shop and tell the on duty park manager that you would like to make a donation to the Algonkian Nature Preserve. Or if you prefer anonymity, there is a secure donation box located near the info kiosk at the Woodlands trailhead. Cash or credit gladly accepted.

If you represent a business and can donate raw materials such as gravel or pressure treated lumber, please email Ron Meister at and we’ll be more than happy to discuss available options. Your generosity would be greatly appreciated

Long Term Projects

Accessible wheelchair friendly nature trail

There is no accessible wheelchair friendly nature trail available at Algonkian Regional Park. There are some paved walkways within the park that are pleasant enough but you really can’t call them nature trails. It is envisioned that the current Woodlands trail will be expanded and upgraded to an accessible nature trail with the trailhead located at the gravel parking lot next to the athletic fields. When completed, the trail network will consist of about 1.7 miles of mostly compressed crushed gravel and some puncheon. Due to the scale of this project, this will not happen overnight but rather in phases over a number of years as resources become available.

ANP Pollinator Meadow

Pollinators are essential to our environment. The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species. The ANP Pollinator Meadow is a multi year project to convert the entire area that wraps around two sides of the athletic fields into a pollinator friendly habitat.

Very low impact extension to the Sanctuary Trail

Keeping the area where this new section of the Sanctuary Trail is planned as pristine and undisturbed as possible is the number one priority for this particular trail project. The intent is to create a narrow, low impact raised boardwalk around the far side of the ponds. One possibility is to use 2x10s set end to end on small footers to create a narrow single file walkway.

Sanctuary Trail rehabilitation

Just after you cross the bridge over Old Sugarland Run, the first few hundred yards of the existing trail is in very bad condition and excessively wide. This condition arose due to the fact that this part of the trail is usually pretty muddy in the Spring and early Summer. As people use the trail, they move to the left and right to avoid the mud which slowly widens the trail over time. To correct this problem we propose installing puncheon over the first few hundred yards of trail. In addition, we would like to try and return much of the Sanctuary Trail to a more pristine, untrodden sanctuary look as opposed to the overly wide and beat to death look that much of the trail currently has. This will involve installing

Foot bridge over the bottom of Sugarland Run

The presence of Sugarland Run running through the middle of the preserve is a real bonus and will provide many opportunities for education and observation not to mention simple aesthetic beauty. However, there is a problem. Currently, there is no crossing of the lower part of Sugarland Run as it runs through the preserve effectively cutting the preserve in half. Due to the current configuration of the park, it’s at least an hours hike just to get from the Woodlands Trail, which runs along the Western side of Sugarland Run, to the Sanctuary Trail, which runs along the Eastern side, a distance of maybe 50 yards. A foot traffic only cable suspension bridge, like the one pictured here, or perhaps an alternative solution, would provide an additional safe crossing point of Sugarland Run from within the preserve.