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.
THE FUN STUFF: It was about 7 PM in July when we were within a hundred yards of the mouth to Kane's Creek. We noticed about 5 osprey and 2-3 bald eagles in the air. Several osprey and eagles were in a "dogfight". One of the osprey was carrying a fish in its talons as a bald eagle was closely pursuing it. The osprey dropped the catch and the eagle swooped down and retrieved it! We were stunned to see this spectacle. Another dogfight was taking place just inside the Creek among the osprey and eagles. I had never seen so much activity at one time. It was an amazing sight.
I think several factors contributed to this concentrated activity. One was the favorable weather, which made the water relatively calm. The second factor was the low tide coinciding with feeding time and the sunset. The conditions were perfect for dinner.
Once we got into Kane's Creek we saw fewer osprey, but a large number of great blue heron and bald eagles. I didn't keep count, but I would estimate that we saw 5-7 adult and 8-10 immature bald eagles as we paddled up the Creek. We were within 500 yards of the protected area before the water level was too low to continue. The return trip was into the setting sun and less eventful.
No overnight facilities. Day use only.
Park entrance fee: Per car weekday, $3; per car weekend day, $4. Mason Neck State Park is open everyday, including holidays.
Various guided canoe trips are available: $6 - $10 per person depending on trip. Guided trips last appox. 2.5 hours. Reservation needed. Equipment supplied. No canoe or kayak rentals available.
The park is in the southwest corner of Fairfax County, approximately 20 miles from Washington, D.C. Access to the park is via U.S. 1, then five miles east on Route 242 (Gunston Road) to the park entrance.
Boat launch: Cartop launch facilities available near Mason Neck State Park visitor center. No facilities for trailer launching.
Mason Neck State Park, 7301 High Point Road, Lorton, VA 22079-40101, 703-339-2385 or 703-339-2380 (visitor center)