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The trail can be accessed at numerous places along its route. One of the most convenient and popular places, with plenty of parking, is from Wakefield Park and Audrey Moore Recenter, 8100 Braddock Rd., Annandale (about the halfway point).
You can also access the trail at Great Falls National Park in Great Falls (fee to enter the park); at Lake Accotink Park, 7500 Accotink Park Rd, Springfield; or from Occoquan Regional Park (from I-95 Route 123 North Exit, follow 123 north 1.5 miles to park entrance on right).
Started at the north end and got ½ mile in before turning around. Large cobble stones, slick mud, large rocks, stair steps to bridge crossings and rocky water crossings are BAD news for road tires! Nobby mountain or gravel tires will have no problems. Don’t try without the right tired unless you want to ruin your bike crashing.
This describes the first 7 miles of the trail from the south. I started at Occoquan Regional Park (more on this later), so traveled about 1.5 mi (all steeply uphill) before actually getting to the southern terminus of the CCT. I have to say that the trail is not well marked. Note that as you fly down Workhouse Rd the trail secretly takes a right without much signage. Also, as has been noted in previous reviews, the path through the prison area was very confusing, again due to lack of signage. After the prison, the trail continues with asphalt - thanks to the person who spray painted directional signals on the asphalt where users must make turns. I had fun crossing the creek several times. With the water level I dismounted only once. Otherwise plowed through the water like a kid! Not long after crossing Pohick Rd (approx 1.5 mi) the trail turned from asphalt to dirt/rocks. Encountered a newly fallen (I swear based on the fresh smell of the leaves and branches that it had fallen the night before) tree that required some nifty maneuvering. I continued on this for a bit, then decided to turn around. Will explore more of the trail later.
But, while parking at Occoquan Regional Park required a 1.5 mile uphill at the start, it provides a 1.5 mile downhill at the end. Plus, and this is the real bonus, you can coast right down to the Brickmaker’s Cafe and have a beer or two before you head out. I recommend the Port City Porter.
I wish I read the reviews before taking my road bike on this trail. I started at the Lorton entrance and the trail quickly became mud and gravel. My road slick tires were definitely ill equipped for this segment of the trail. Better for cyclocross and mountain bikes.
This is a wonderful trail when it's not flooded. I would give it a 5 star rating if it didn't flood. However, it floods way to often. Currently 2/27/2017 it's flooded. Does anyone who to contact so that it can be fixed? They need to raise the concrete circles up about a foot.
After a rain, it always floods at the first crossing of Pohick Creek going north from Alban/Pohick Rd. This is the crossing just West of Godolphin Rd.
The third crossing of Pohick Creek (just East of SouthRun Rd. and Pohick intersection) is currently flooded. After running this trail for 3 years, I've never seen this intersection flood, but now there is a wide span of stationary water that is about 3 inches above the concrete circles.
Again, my recommendation is to raise the concrete circles about 1 foot to avoid all problems. This seems to be an inexpensive fix that will greatly increase the use of the trail. I'm sure people avoid this trail to avoid having to turn back due to flooding.
4/30/16 - Review of the section between Occoquan Regional Park and 641. The trail-quality is a mixed bag of everything - fenced trail entrances that require you to dismount, single-track dirt trails, public sidewalks, old paved trails with gaps, roads under construction, and unmarked mile-long detours. But it also has sections of beautiful well-groomed paths under trees.
Note - There is major construction around the Lorton Prison (closed) to be avoided. When biking south-to-north (starting at the Occoquan), the detour sign near the SW side of the prison is missing. You must bear LEFT and follow the western edge of the prison towards South County High School. Avoid the Southern and Eastern sides of the prison, There are two climbs and we got stuck in the mud (it had rained the day before).
Tried riding down to the Ocoquan and just before the Franconia Springfield parkway the trail disappears. No signage on where to go. Only found out later from this how to go. Besides that love the trail
On my hybrid bicycle, I began the one-way trip at Occoquan Park and rode north to Great Falls Park. This was a beautiful trip. You'll see unique landmarks over the entirety of the trail.
The trail was fairly easy and well paved in sections 1-6. Sometimes concrete/cement, sometimes gravelly, but nothing too challenging, although there are dirt and rooty sections here and there. The terrain is a bit hilly, but there's just as much downhill as there is uphill.
Things started to get tricky at Section 7, about 25 miles in from my starting point, where you turn off of Blake. Say goodbye to paved trails. From here on out it's all roots, rocks, narrow paths, and treacherous lees. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone without good biking skills, or a bike that can handle it. It's a much bigger challenge than what came before it. That being said, there's still no shortage of beauty.
The last few miles before reaching the falls were awesome. Very scenic. It was well worth the 43.5 miles I put in that day.
I have hit this trail 3 times for rides over 26 miles and I love it. The southern part of the trail will kick your butt if you aren't in shape as it has non stop elevation and surface changes. You will not get far on anything but a mountain bike, there is lots of pavement on this trail but once it goes dirt/gravel it gets primitive quick. There are about 8 stream crossings on the southern part and unless you dismount and walk across the pylons you will get wet. But hey, who Mtn bikes looking to stay all comfortable?? Not me!! The only thing that needs improvement is the trail marking, it's pathetic and causes multiple wrong/dead end runs so first timers be warned. There are scores of forks along this trail so I would keep this App open and consult often or do like me and figure it out and consider the wrong turns part of the challenge! Enjoy!
Beautiful setting but no beginners biking. The trail is quite primitive so mountain bike is best. Enjoy.
I ran there Sunday afternoon and was a great trail. I started off of Arlington Road/50 and headed 4 miles until the trail ended in Americana Park. There were a few fellow runners and 3-4 bikes on the trail. I saw two deer close to the trail. All in all, it was a great shaded trail that I would recommend.
I started off my ride next to route 50 and rode North to 66, after that I rode down to 495 and rode back to 50. Approx 5 miles one-way.
I've a hybrid bike and I currently have rode tires on it. I rode on a dry day it hasn't rained in the past 24 hrs. It has rained in the past 48 hrs.
The trail is great, the stretch between those two points is about 80% asphalt, 10% dirt, 10% medium rock, and the rock is beaten in pretty well. The grade of the land is slight, there isn't much elevation change. I did notice the trail sort of starts and stops and that the trail markings aren't always blatantly obvious.
My hybrid road tires were able to handle the terrain well. I was worried about a rock putting a hole in my tire, but I'd still worry even with mountain tires on. I definitely recommend bringing a spare tube.
Overall, this was a great leg of the trail. I'm going to grab a set of mountain tires and see if I can't complete this entire trail on my hybrid.
I have ridden and run on many trails in the DC area but this is my favorite. Of course it is only a block from my house in Annandale.
The trail is off-road from Fairfax City to Fairfax Parkway and runs thru woods along the Accotink River for many miles. Usually not crowded. Some wildlife along the way, but mostly secluded. Great for biking, hiking and running, but not road bikes.
I have lived in the Fairfax/Annandale area for over three years. Prior to living in Virginia, I lived in California and Florida which both have extensive road and running trails. I was looking for a trail or area that I could run in to prepare for a marathon and found this route via the Rails-to-Trails website (super resource). My daughter and I ventured onto the trail staring at Braddock Road and headed northbound. We went 9.5 miles northbound (starting from our residence which is about 3+ miles away) and went passed King Arthur Road.
As many others have said, there are a variety of surfaces and we crossed the river twice without bridges. The crossing areas had sufficient rocks to cross in the first spot and the second had pile-ons which we had to carefully traverse but it kept us out of the water. We only crossed three roads from Braddock Road to King Arthur Drive and there was very little traffic. I was amazed that we could run in a cross country type environment for a long trek without having to constantly cross roads. Your running times will be a little slower than usual, but that is the nature of cross country running.
In the future I will go southbound to check out that part of the trail. Next week we will go northbound for 10 miles to see what else is beyond King Arthur Drive. Overall, I totally recommend this trail. I am going to donate money for the maintenance of the trail since it is obviously an asset that greatly serves our community.
I love this trail. It is probably my favorite place to ride in N. VA. I like to ride cross-country with mixed terrain and this trail offers about every surface you can imagine. I have traveled most of its length over the course of various rides and have biked on pavement, gravel, dirt, rocks, and grass. I ride a mountain bike that has been geared towards mixed surfaces, so I enjoy going through the water at the fair-weather crossings and winding through some of the dirt sections. There are also some nice stretches of pavement, and even some occasional suburban street riding. Some reviewers have said that this trail is not for hybrids. I would agree on some sections, especially on the northern end, but there are some really nice parts that would be a lot of fun on a hybrid. The section from Springfield, starting near the Fairfax County Pkwy, running north to Lake Accotink is mostly paved with beautiful scenery and only one fair-weather crossing (a stream crossing that you have to ride through the water, or get off your bike and walk over stepping stones). I would highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for something different than W&OD or Mt. Vernon. Likes - A fun ride that alternates between a lot of different terrain. Beautiful stretches of wooded trails...sometimes you can't even tell you're in the DC Metro area. Very few of the type-A bikers that pass without warning, cut into the path of oncoming trail users, and shoot hostile looks at people not riding $2k bikes while fully clad in spandex (all common occurrences on the W&OD and Mt. Vernon trails). Dislikes - Some sections get a bit rough, even for a mtn bike...they really should invest in a little maintenance along the northern stretch of Difficult Run. I don't mean paving dirt paths, but they could fill in some of the deeper holes and fix the washed out section near Great Falls. While the path is often marked with little CCT signs, they are inexplicably missing at a lot of spots where the path splits. If there is a junction, there should always be marker indicating the correct path. The CCT is more of a network of trails than a single continuous route. It is not always obvious which way to go at a fork. When riding sections that were new to me, I'd often refer to a map just to make sure I was on the right track.
Much of this trail is very rough, while some is smooth, brand-new asphalt. I run on it most often, and it's an amazing resource for that. For cycling, it's more of a mixed bag. Portions near my house are all but impassable for high-end skinny-tire bikes unless they're piloted by experience cyclocross types. We run much of the rough stuff with tadpole trikes and a child trailor, which is rough, but passable.
There are unbridged creek crossing that require wetting the feet, and it's not always obvious how to connect the different pieces of trail, but it's one of the few ways to be in the woods in this urban area for many miles at a time.
I was there in mid - October. We started from Great Falls park. It was a mistake, because the park part of trail was in poor condition – (deep sand, washed-off parts etc) and very hilly. This part of the trail ends at VERY dangerous (maybe 1.5 mile) Old Dominion Rd. The road is narrow, one lane each way and has a lot of traffic. After about 0.8 mile, there is a parking lot, where the trail continues. We were on hybrids, and after about 3 miles we turned back. The narrow path was muddy and barely paved. The pavement was not gravel, but big chunks of rock. There were many big trunks of fallen trees across the path. Small streams washed big gaps on the path. On the trail we meet some serious mountain bike guys. They told us, that the road is impassable for hybrids for at least 15 miles (they did not know about the rest of the trail). All 3 miles and back, we carried bikes more than ride them.
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