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On The Water

Find fossils along the Potomac River
There are a couple places within an hour's drive of Fredericksburg where you can walk a beach and find them, mostly sharks' teeth, and occasionally, vertebrae and other remnants of ancient marine creatures. One good spot is the beach at Westmoreland State Park off State Route 3 East. Follow the park road down to the main beach, or take Big Meadow Trail off Cliff Road down to the water. (There's a parking fee to enter.) Another option is the beach at Washington Birthplace National Monument off State Route 3. Fossils at both sites wash down from cliffs, once an ancient seabed, along the shore. You might want to take a fishing rod; both spots have good fall fishing for white perch, bluefish and the occasional striped bass. Make sure you have a saltwater license.

View wildlife, fall colors from a canoe, kayak
Though water temperatures in rivers and lakes are falling, there's still plenty of comfortable paddling left before cold-water gear is required. Here's a list of some destinations in the region, with some feedback from paddlers.

In The Woods

Commune with nature, along with apples, cider and other goodies
It's harvest festival time in Virginia, meaning that you can get outside while getting fall goodies on the side...apples, pumpkins, cider, etc. There are dozens of them around the state to check out, from late September into November. One of the best known around Fredericksburg is the Graves Mountain Apple Festival, in Madison County, held on Saturday and Sunday the first three weekends of October. The Rose River, a state-stocked trout stream, runs through the property, and White Oak Canyon Trail in Shenandoah National Park, is just up the road. Another nearby option: the Fall Fiber Festival and Montpelier Sheep Dog Trials in Orange County.

Connect with fellow mountain bikers
There's no better time of year to get out on a bike, particularly a mountain bike. Find like-minded riders in the region with Fredericksburg Area Mountain Bike Enthusiasts, which hosts area rides and events. FAMBE promotes and schedules group rides for cyclers of all ages and skill sets. Also, check out its free maps, which are downloadable. They include general trail maps, maps for riding events and races.

Places to hunt: Wildlife Management Areas
They're one of the best-kept secrets among Virginia hunters: the 39 WMA's statewide, covering over 200,000 acres. Nearby, there's the 4,539-acre C.F. Phelps WMA in southern Fauquier County; the 10,326-acre Rapidan WMA in Madison and Greene counties; Pettigrew WMA in Caroline County; and the new Mattaponi WMA, also in Caroline. Hunting, fishing, trapping are among permitted activities.

What's Happening

Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, Oct. 6
The Fredericksburg Area Trail Management and User Group (FATMUG) is hosting the event at the Fredericksburg Quarry trails, near the Friends of the Rappahannock headquarters on Fall Hill Avenue. This free event for kids age 7 to 14 begins at 10 a.m. with a skills clinic. That will be followed by lunch at noon, then rides based on skill level. Participation may be capped at 20. National sponsor is the International Mountain Biking Association

Kayak with the eagles, Oct. 6
This is one of the many fall programs at Caledon State Park along the Potomac River in King George County. The paddle is from 9 to 11:15 a.m. Meet at the visitor center. There is a fee, $19 solo, $25 tandem kayak. Call the park for details and to make the required reservations. (540) 663-3861

Roadtrip: Bark in the Park and Doggy Dash, Oct. 7
This event is put on by the Chesapeake Humane Society to give dogs and their humans a chance to bond. It kicks off with a 5K run and a Puppy Trot for non-runners.

A little quality time in the mountains, Oct. 5-8
Wintergreen resort's annual Columbus Day weekend. Scenic chairlift rides, open to the public, are $5.

Rappahannock River Valley NWR wants you to 'Go Wild,' Oct. 14
The occasion is the refuge's 16th anniversary, and will be held from 1-5 p.m. on the Hutchinson Tract. Hike the 2.3 miles of trails, visit conservation exhibits, and activitires include a birds and binoculars scavenger hung, nature walks, birdhouse building, storytelling, a silent auction and more.

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