This year has really been a whirlwind for the Department – and it’s not even October yet! Some days it feels like we’re jumping from one big project to the next. Actually, most days we’re not jumping to the next project so much as the next project is jumping on us and we haven’t had a chance to finish with the current ones.
That’s how Blooms Park has felt all summer. When we found out we were acquiring Blooms Park there were definitely mixed emotions – mainly excitement and panic. Taking on another very large park is a huge task, but it’s such a beautiful park that offers more trails than both Signal Hill and Costello Park combined, and, of course, so many possibilities!
I’d like to start off this sentence with, “As an avid hiker myself,” but considering I’ve gone on maybe three hikes this summer, that would be a lie. I do love a good hike, but I love pickleball more and that’s where I’ve been spending much of my free time. That being said, I did walk Blooms Park with my husband and my dog, Eggroll, and we had an amazing time.
Blooms Park officially opened this past Saturday (September 21, 2019) and several of you went out and tried it out. That’s fantastic! We received one comment from Stephanie on Facebook:
“Took my family today which includes 2 small children who require strollers for long walks. I wish I knew how unfriendly the topography was before going because the hills killed us. As a reference, I run daily, but the steep ups and downs while pushing a 20 or 40 lbs child with the added weight of the stroller and gravity really made it difficult. We’ve been to Burke Lake park and done the entire course without any difficulty. I strongly recommend parents with strollers reconsider going to here. I do want to go back by myself, but really don’t recommend this for parents pushing a stroller. It’s really not safe on the downhill slopes, the declines are too steep.”
Stephanie is absolutely right. We knew going into this project that the steep hills were going to be a major barrier to participation for many people. As a communications specialist, I struggled with the right way to convey just how difficult this trail system is. I know whenever I see a Shenandoah area trail labeled as “challenging” or “very difficult” I’m pretty good at dismissing that warning. Surely if I’m underestimating trails in the Shenandoah, nobody will believe me that a trail system in the heart of suburbia will be that difficult.
Let this blog post, which I can write in a far more casual tone, be my opportunity to convey to you that Blooms Park is a very difficult and challenging trail.
My goal here is not to deter you from enjoying Blooms. It’s the opposite! If you want to really enjoy Blooms Park, I want you to be prepared. Nothing detracts from the enjoyment of a park than feeling underprepared and desperately wanting to leave. Pack light, but bring as much water and sports drink with you as if you were going to the Shenandoah (the typical recommendation is 2 cups or 1/2 liter for every hour of hiking). Plan to be out there for 2-3 hours so you give yourself time to rest and time to appreciate the surroundings. Bring a light blanket or a portable chair to sit on to rest. Bring a snack to help keep your energy up and your stomach full. Also consider bringing first aid supplies just in case.
Hiking season is far from over. I’d actually love to check out Blooms Park once the leaves change color. I hope you’ll come check out Blooms Park before we get deep into winter. If you do, be sure to tag us in the photos you post on social media!
Jason Shriner is the Marketing Manager for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. He can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at J.Shriner@manassasparkva.gov.