Words of Wisdom: Make sure to call the park before leaving to kayak. We checked the overall weather report and tides--all seemed fine. However, when we arrived at the park the day was lovely but the wind in this area had increased to 15 knots and was expected to go to 25 knots by 2:00 PM that day. We live in Washington, DC about an hour away. It is not considered safe to kayak in winds over 12 knots. The man in the picture to the left had just dumped out in the bay. He was really moving along and then splat! The water was really choppy. I would not have wanted to be caught unaware in a kayak in this day. Although disappointed, we learned from this error. Bill and I hiked and bird watched instead. We enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the bay. Since then we have returned to take these pictures and write this article. What an enjoyable and tranquil place.
Notes Regarding Wind: "Not that wind always produces negative effects for paddlers. While paddling against the wind can be very difficult, travelling with the wind can result in a nice boost. The trick here is that your paddling direction will affect the apparent speed of the wind. For example, a 12-knot wind (a moderate breeze that can produce numerous white caps but is normally within the safety zone of almost any well-equipped, fit paddler) becomes 15 knots if you are paddling at three knots head into it. That same wind has an apparent speed of only nine knots if you are paddling three knots downwind. The difference of six knots in apparent wind can produce a noticeable difference in effort and even stability. This is especially true because the wind force is proportional to the square of the apparent wind speed. Thus, the favourable downwind push is only about 30 percent of the adverse upwind resistance. The long and short of it is that paddling into the wind can cause fatigue and make you wish you'd taken that extra few minutes to listen in on the marine weather forecast before launching. ..." Coast&Kayak Magazine by Graham Shuley
Kayaking at Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd.
Lorton, VA 22079
GPS: Latitude: 38° 38' 40" W
Longitude: 77° 11' 57" N
No extra charge for launching
Fresh and brackish water fishing are available. Must have valid Virginia or Maryland fishing license. Car top boat launch facilities available; no facilities for trailer launching. From April through October, rent a kayak or canoe for an hour or all day to explore Belmont Bay or Kane's Creek- a great way to see eagles.
Helpful Information when purchasing life-time senior passes: Bill and I were going to get a life-time Seniors Pass to the Virginia Parks. However, we realized that Mason Neck is part of the State Park System. There is also a Regional Park system in Virginia. Those parks such as Pohick, Fountainhead, Hemlock, Frying Pan, etc., are on a Regional pass system. Be aware when purchasing your passes that one pass does not fit all Virginia Parks--State and Regional have different life-time passes! That could have been an OOPS!
The park is absolutely beautiful and so well maintained. Patricia, in the Information Center, is wonderfully delightful and so helpful! The park covers 1825 acres and there is something for everyone. It has lovely places to picnic, canoe and kayak rentals in season, hiking, bird watching, etc.
Bill and I launched and paddled right. This is called Belmont Bay headed toward Kane's Creek. On the way you will pass the Visitor's Center, dirt cliffs, observation towers, and strainer trees that have fallen into the Bay. One tree was uprooted and just hanging from the bank ready to fall at any time into the Bay. You will continue paddling and come across a sunken wooden boat sporting a home for swamp iris. You will see a number of duck blinds as you paddle your way to Kane's Creek. With this paddle you will probably see bald eagles, osprey and a number of different raptors circling overhead. We did! Of course, there are many Great Blue Herons and egrets of good size. It is really a wildlife mecca. We just loved it. We anchored and had lunch while at Kane's Creek and then paddled back to the launch site. Our paddle was not at high tide. High tide was at 8:00 am that day. We arrived and began our paddle about ll:00 am. Low tide was to be around 2:00 PM. We had no problems paddling up to Kane's Creek-the marshy area. Note that you cannot paddle all the way up Kane's Creek as you will encounter signs that say "sensitive wildlife area". You need to turn around at this point. We paddled for about 2 1/2 hours.
The paddle can be continued by paddling right after you exit Kane's Creek. This is the northern portion of Belmont Bay. Two large condo structures are visible on the other side of the Occoquan River. Here you will find Massey Creek. You can see the train track bridge. I took this picture from Belmont Bay but it is actually across on the other side of the Occoquan River at Occoquan Regional Park. ("...JUST THE FACTS: A visit to Kane's Creek takes about 2-3 hours. Kane's Creek flows into Belmont Bay, and is part of the tidal Potomac River. The mouth of the creek is about 6/10 mile north of the boat launch at Mason Neck State Park. Visitors can paddle about a mile upstream from the mouth of the creek before they reach signs announcing the beginning of a protected area and prohibiting further access. The area is protected because bald eagle nests are located further upstream. Kane's Creek is a tidal creek. During low tide it may only be possible to paddle 3/4 of a mile upstream from the mouth. Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Great Blue Heron are abundant in the area. Other birds - egrets, canadian geese, belted kingfishers, red winged blackbirds, and swallows. Mammals in the area include beaver, fox, raccoon, and deer....") Kane's Creek, Mason Neck State Park - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
For More Information on birds: Kayaking Birds Seen
Mason Neck State Park, Virginia/Common Birds Seen/Charts