Places We Protect

Fraser Preserve


A yellow and green trail blaze is nailed to the trunk of a tree. Three people are walking along the forested trail in the background.
Fraser Preserve Explore the many natural habitats found in the Piedmont region. © Glenna Goldman / TNC

Explore Fraser Preserve while enjoying more than two miles of easy trails.



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.



Note: dogs are not allowed at this preserve.


Daily dawn to dusk


220 acres

Explore our work in Virginia

Watch Video

Enjoy a virtual tour of Fraser Preserve

Fraser Preserve (2:02) Enjoy a green oasis of nature right in metropolitan DC's backyard.


  • 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.

  • The Nature Conservancy’s preserves are set aside to protect natural plant and animal communities. We invite you to experience and enjoy preserves where we provide public access, but remember that every visitor has an impact. Please follow our visitation guidelines to protect yourself and nature.

    • Preserves are open to the public during daylight hours. 
    • Passive recreation such as walking, bird watching and photography is welcomed. 

     The following activities are not allowed:

    • Bringing dogs onto the preserve unless otherwise noted. Please visit Places We Protect to confirm the policy at each preserve.
    • Dogs are not allowed on any of the Virginia Coast Reserve islands
    • Picking flowers, mushrooms, etc.
    • Removing rocks or other parts of the landscape
    • Smoking
    • Camping
    • Fires or cookouts
    • Driving motorized vehicles, including ATV’s, except on designated access roads
    • Biking, except at Brownsville Preserve
    • Fishing, trapping or hunting, except as otherwise posted
    • Horseback riding
    • Feeding wildlife
    • Releasing animals or introducing plants
    • Disposing of trash or other waste, including biodegradable materials

    To minimize your impact, we ask that you please also observe the following:

    • Stay on trails
    • Avoid walking in wet, boggy areas
    • Inspect pant legs and shoes to remove seeds before entering and when leaving the preserve. Failure to do so could introduce invasive weeds to new locations.
    • If you flush a ground nesting bird, stop and avoid walking near the nest area
    • Observe all posted signs
    • Please do not remove stakes, signs, flagging, tape or similar objects. These may be markers for a research project.
    • Please do not trespass on private property adjacent to preserves

    For your own comfort and enjoyment, come prepared. Wear comfortable shoes for hiking, pack rain gear, and wear long pants with socks over them to protect yourself from ticks and poison ivy. Always remember to bring water, as dehydration is a serious year-round threat.

    If you observe any illegal activity on a preserve such as ATV use, do not confront the offenders yourself. However, do feel free to call local law enforcement.

A yellow and black butterfly sits on an orange flower.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) © Lauren Peeler Brice

Fraser Preserve History

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 has extensively studied these historic sites.

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.

A wide, flat river flow between tree lined banks.
Fraser Preserve Beautiful eastern hardwood forest and lush marshes that overlook the Potomac River. © Tom Hamilton

Get Involved

Preserve Volunteer Program

Virginia's Preserve Volunteer Community Program provides a vital service to help us maintain and monitor our public preserves across the state.

How can you get involved?

  • Community Members—become involved with a preserve without committing time to stewardship work. Receive periodic updates about the preserve and special events.
  • Preserve Stewards—visit Fraser Preserve at least 4 times a year to assess trail and preserve conditions and perform basic trail maintenance by removing fallen branches and overgrown vegetation.
  • Preserve Leaders—demonstrated commitment to the preserve and willingness to take on additional responsibilities like managing communication & scheduling, leading workdays and guiding naturalist hikes.

Email to learn how you can help and become a part of the program.

Download the Fraser Preserve Volunteer Program handbook to learn more.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map