Explore the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region.
Fraser Preserve Explore the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region. © Glenna Goldman / TNC

Places We Protect

Fraser Preserve

Virginia

Explore the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region

A short hike through Fraser Preserve offers glimpses of the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region, including fast, clear streams, lush cold-spring swamp, marsh, mature hardwood forests, open meadow, ponds, river and stream floodplain forests and thickets, steep rocky bluffs, springs and seeps, and various stages of old field succession.

The terrain slopes down to the Potomac River, which forms the preserve's northern boundary. 

Want to explore another part of the Potomac River?  Plan a visit to Great Falls Park or Bear Island / Potomac Gorge.

Why TNC Selected This Site  

Fraser Preserve was acquired in 1975 as a gift from Mrs. George (Bernice) Fraser. Originally inhabited by members of the Anacostan, Piscataway and Tauxenent tribes, the bottomlands along Fraser's river border have yielded many arrowheads, pottery shards and stone weirs (dams used in taking fish from the Potomac). American University extensively studies these historic sites, and numerous artifacts are displayed in their museum.

The area now known as Fraser Preserve was once part of a tract of 5 million acres granted by King Charles I in 1649 to seven nobleman friends. In 1710, the land was passed on to the Fairfax family and eventually to Thomas Lee, the first of the famous Virginia Lees. Wheat farming prevailed in the area from about 1790 to 1840, and the tract likely was farmed until agriculture began to decline in Fairfax County following World War I.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Mrs. Fraser also donated a small in-holding within the preserve to the Calvary Baptist Church. The Conservancy and the Calvary Baptist Church share the common goal of maintaining Fraser Preserve in its natural state and for the enjoyment of visitors.

 

Plan your Visit

Download a trail map (pdf)

View Preserve Guidelines

The preserve features approximately 2.25 miles of easy walking trails.

Hike options include a large and small loop within the preserve, and you can extend your hike by continuing beyond the preserve's eastern and western boundaries onto connecting public trails maintained by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

The preserve shares land with a church camp, so please be respectful of their facilities. There are no bathrooms designated for the preserve.

What to See: Animals

Among the mammals known to live here are the mole, Eastern chipmunk, gray squirrel, woodchuck, skunk, raccoon, white-tailed deer, fox, and beaver.

Fraser's many amphibian species include the Southern leopard frog, spring peeper, gray tree frog, American toad, two-lined salamander and Northern red-backed salamander.

About 110 bird species, including 39 nesting species and the bald eagle, have been documented at Fraser. Among the nesting birds are the red-shouldered hawk, ruby-throated hummingbird, downy woodpecker, scarlet tanager and blue-gray gnatcatcher.

What to See: Plants

The tremendous variety of wildflowers at Fraser may be directly attributed to its diverse habitats. About 300 species of wildflowers have been identified in the preserve. Of special interest are the following unusual or rare species: purple cress, marsh marigold, purple fringeless orchis, false (white) hellebore and poison hemlock.

Fraser Preserve Enjoy a green oasis of nature right in metropolitan DC's backyard.