Trail Tour: Lake Audubon’s Breathtaking Fall Scenery

It’s time for another trail tour! Last month we featured a trail that was ideal in the late summer heat. This month, we will give tours of two Reston trails that you absolutely can’t miss during the fall. Reston is known for its magnificent trees, and the next few weeks are their crowning glory. There’s no better time to get outside and explore Reston’s 55 miles of wooded walking paths.

The first trail that you must go see this fall is at Lake Audubon in South Reston. This is an out-and-back route that covers 1.7 miles roundtrip. The entire path is paved, and the first half is completely flat. There is a large staircase at the halfway point, but until then it is wheelchair- and stroller-friendly. The route remains next to the water the whole way, so there are lots of beautiful lake views. All along the way are colorful trees, and many spots have dense canopies that surround you with fall color.

At this point of mid-October, the leaves are just starting to change. My most recent photos give only a hint of the spectacular fall color that you will find there in the last week of October and the first week of November. You really don’t want to miss it.

Lake Audubon trail map

Lake Audubon trail map (credit: RunKeeper app)

Lake Audubon is located in South Reston, near South Lakes Village Center and Lake Thoreau. Park at the boat ramp off Twin Branches Road. You will find the trailhead just to the right of the ramp.

Lake Audubon walking trail in Reston, Virginia in the fall

After a very short walk, you come to a bench with beautiful lake views.


Scenery like this has got to be one of the biggest reasons so many of us love Reston.


The trail continues around a bend, following the edge of the lake. Colorful trees provide shade as you enjoy the views of the water and wildlife.


You will love the views of the opposite side of the lake. These colors will become even more vibrant as October continues.


As you approach the end of this side of the lake, the path will curve and continue parallel to the dam. At this point, I like to take a detour to the left and sit on this perfect little bench for a while. It’s one of my favorite spots in all of Reston.

After you’ve taken in the view, look for the rest of this unpaved trail through the trees. It will lead you back to the paved path near the dam. If you are riding with wheels, or prefer to keep off the dirt, you can skip this detour and remain on the paved trail.


At the end of the dam, you will find a tall staircase. If you are traveling with a wheelchair or stroller, you may need to turn around at this point. If you don’t mind climbing the stairs, though, you will definitely want to see the rest of this trail.


At the top of the stairs, turn left to continue walking along the lake. This part of the trail is quiet and feels wooded and remote. It’s a great place to feel surrounded by fall colors.


As you walk further, the path will take you along several waterfront houses. There are fewer trees on this part of the trail, so the lake views are dramatic.

Walk past these houses, until the trail leads away from the lake and toward a street. At this point, I turn around and head back to the boat ramp. The path is just as beautiful on the return journey.

Now that you know what to expect from the trail, here’s a glimpse of the fall colors you can look forward to later this month. Here are a few photos that I took along this route last year.

Lake Audubon in fall - Reston, Virginia Lake-Audubon-Reston-fall-02 Lake-Audubon-Reston-fall-04 Lake-Audubon-Reston-fall-03

There is one more Reston trail that I consider a must-see in the fall. Can you guess where it is? Stay tuned next week to find out. In the meanwhile, please let us know your favorite trails to explore this time of year. What are your must-see spots?

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll want to take a look at these aerial photos of Lake Anne in the fall and this comfortable mile loop along the Turquoise Trail in South Reston.


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  • Annika Bohn

    Hi! Your pics are SO lovely!! I take this walk at least once a week. I live in South Reston, and walk around the lakes here almost every day with my iPhone in hand, and sometimes (when I feel like tagging it along) my Canon DSLR. The fall in Reston is such a great time for taking pics. The fall and the spring, love them! I think we follow each other on instagram, I am skandigirl! 🙂

    • It’s great to hear from you, Skandigirl/Annika! I can’t wait to see more of your beautiful photos on those weekly walks. — Charlotte