Marie Butler Leven Preserve comprises 20 acres in central McLean, Virginia, an arboretum created to serve as a sanctuary for native plants. Situated on the side of a 90-foot hill, the preserve is easily accessed from Kirby Road in McLean and includes a network of crisscrossing hiking trails. The highlight is a pretty meadow a stone’s throw from the main parking area, but it is also possible to drop down through the woods to connect to Maddux Lane and the easternmost section of the Pimmit Run Trail (described in detail here). A loop hike is described below.
A signed parking area off Kirby Road provides the easiest access to Marie Butler Leven, and it’s only steps away from the start of the arboretum. Grassy paths veer off to the south and east, crossing a verdant meadow before entering a forest of native trees. Just east of the trailhead, hikers will find the crumbled ruins of what appeared to be an old house. Farther along, both new (recently planted) and old trees are neatly labeled, for the enjoyment of budding arborists.
The eastbound trail roughly follows a woody ravine as it descends to a three-way trail fork. The path to the right is relatively faint and leads back up the hill; so too does the straight path, which skirts a second ravine up to the meadow. Taking a left, the forest comes to an abrupt end, as does the trail, which disappears into a grassy lawn. Cross Maddux Lane to access the Pimmit Run Trail, unmarked but obvious as it descends a minor slope between two houses. (Note: Marie Butler Leven Preserve also makes for a pleasant diversion—or endpoint—for walkers on the Pimmit Run Trail.)
Return the way you came, or take the west fork back to the top for a roughly 2/3 mile circuit. The entire loop can be completed at a casual pace in as little as 20 minutes.