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Sweet Run State Park dedication preserves Valley’s agricultural, natural and cultural history

Rebecca Barnabi
Shenandoah National Park
(© Vladimir Grablev – stock.adobe.com)

Virginia acquired the property on which is Sweet Run State Park in Loudoun County in two phases from the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation.

The first donation of 604 acres was in June 2016 and a second 280-acre parcel was transferred to the Commonwealth in February 2022. The second parcel included the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, and was paid for by Loudoun County. Local land trust Old Dominion Land Conservancy temporarily owned and assisted with facilitating both transfers to DCR.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin officially dedicated Sweet Run State Park today. The 884-acre park, crossed by Sweet Run and Piney Run streams, features expansive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“Sweet Run State Park will be the first State Park in Loudoun County, and will preserve this valley’s steeped agricultural, natural and cultural history,” Youngkin said. “Expanding our stellar Virginia State Parks system, this new park demonstrates our continued commitment to invest in Virginia’s future and ensure that it’s the best state to live, work — and get outdoors and play.”

A soft opening was held in late May for Sweet Run, which is the 42nd park in the Virginia State Park system. Sweet Run connects to the Appalachian Trail and complements the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park system, offers 11 miles of hiking and nine miles of equestrian trails along streams, through mature forest, meadows and mountain-side terrain. Amenities include a picnic pavilion and nature play area for children.

“We continue to offer programs for all ages that showcase the park’s historical, cultural, and natural resources,” Sweet Run State Park Manager Kevin Bowman said. “This park is still under development and parking is limited so I encourage all guests to review the park’s Know Before You Go web page before their visit.”

According to Director of Virginia State Parks Dr. Melissa Baker, Sweet Run fulfills a mission in “to conserve the natural, scenic, historic and cultural resources of the Commonwealth and provide recreational and educational opportunities consistent with the good stewardship of these lands, waters and facilities that leaves them unimpaired for future generations. The park already boasts a volunteer program with over 50 volunteers who assist across all aspects of park operations.”

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) manages Virginia State Parks.

“We’re excited to dedicate Sweet Run along with our many partners, including local county officials, Old Dominion Land Conservancy, the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, and especially Robert and Dee Leggett,” DCR Director Matt Wells said. “DCR and Virginia State Parks are fortunate to have many established partnerships to support this park, including the Between the Hills Conservancy, which recently became designated as the park’s Friends group, as well as U.S. Trail Ride, which helps to maintain the park’s trail system.”

Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles said Virginia’s parks provide valuable public access to nature. Sweet Run will provide Loudoun County residents with access they would not have otherwise had.

“Our administration is committed to providing new and expanded opportunities for Virginians to recreate outdoors and enjoy the Commonwealth’s natural resources,” Voyles said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.