From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Harvest of Hunt Country Happenings!

By Julie Reardon

If you’re not busy hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding or otherwise enjoying the outdoors at this time of year, head west—an embarrassment of riches awaits you. Even if you’re not rich, there’s so much to see and do this month with the spectacular weather and fall palette to enjoy it in, that a list of everything to do would fill this entire magazine. So…we’ve narrowed down a list of things to so and see that are proven winners if you’re looking for a day or weekend trip.

Our 2023 fall activities range from free to inexpensive to moderate; check websites or contact numbers for details.

October 14: Virginia Fall Races & Field Hunter Championship Finals, Glenwood Park, Foxcroft Rd. 1 mile north of Middleburg, Va. Horse lovers can take in two days of steeplechase racing in a beautiful setting under 200 year old trees at one of the area’s premiere social and sporting events. Gates open at 10 a.m. Post time for Saturday’s first race is 1:30. General admission for 4 starts at $30; box seats, railside and picnic parking spaces are available by calling (540) 687-5662 or visiting www.vafallraces.com.

October 14: Annual Fauquier Farm Tour featuring thoroughbred horse breeding and training facilities, a winery, an orchard, beef and sheep farms as well as the Fauquier Educational Farm, demonstration gardens by local Master Gardeners and Sky Meadows State Park’s Fall Farm Festival. Hay rides, farm-fresh local goodies and more at this year’s tour, which features the beautiful scenery of Northern Fauquier County in and around The Plains, Marshall, Delaplane, Markham, Hume and Orlean. Print a brochure and find more information at www.fauquierag.com

October 21 & 22: Loudoun County Fall Farm Color Tour is a self-guided tour of various farms around Loudoun. You can sample or purchase apples, pumpkins, trees and other seasonal goodies or bounce ideas off proprietors of vineyards, nurseries and farms; the kids can learn about cows, horses, llamas, sheep while enjoying the colorful backdrop of the Blue Ridge, Sugarloaf and Short Hill mountains. For information, or other farms that are open for visitors during the month, visit www.loudounfarms.org

October 28: International Gold Cup Races, Great Meadow, Corner Rt. 17 & Old Tavern Rd., The Plains; gates open at 10 a.m., post time 1 p.m., advance ticket purchase from $55 call (540) 347-2612 or visit www.vagoldcup.com

The October full moon, known as the Hunters Moon, is Thursday October 28th this year. Book a hunt at www.shady-grove.com . If you aren’t a hunter, try your hand at sporting clays, one of the fastest-growing sports in the Mid Atlantic area at www.shady-grove.com/SportingClays.htm or at the Bull Run Shooting Center in Centreville, 7700 Bull Run Post Office Rd., www.claytargetsonline.com If you’d rather watch, not shoot birds, clay or otherwise, there’s a free bird watching walk October 28th at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, 11661 Harper’s Ferry Rd., Purcellville at their gorgeous 900-acre refuge near Harper’s Ferry and the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. It’s free, and led by a birding expert from the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy; call (540) 554-2542 or visit www.bcres.org

Looking for a local corn maze or hayride in northern Virginia?  Scroll down this page and you will see the all of those in northern Virginia, sorted by county. Some are huge corn mazes with hayrides, pumpkins, corn cannons, inflatables and others are simple corn mazes with little else.  Most also have loads of pumpkins to choose from.  To really make it fun for your kids, look for those that have the extra activities, like a corn cannon, cow train, inflatables, farm animals, pumpkin patch or zip lines.  There is usually a small fee for the mazes (of course, the more elaborate mazes tend to charge more. Hayrides are often free. Always call before you go to confirm whether they are open this year and any requirements. For a list of mazes log on to https://cornmazesandmore.org/VAnorthern.php

And, a reminder: If leaf peeping and photographing/viewing scenery tops your agenda, consider taking off midweek, especially the second half of October, the peak foliage times. Traffic can get heavy, and you do get enough of that inside the beltway, don’t you? The pretty country roads including the Skyline Drive (see the Road Trip column in this issue) can get crowded with gawking tourists, motorcyclists and bicycle riders each weekend in October.

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