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In Northern Virginia’s suburban community of Springfield, Lake Accotink Park provides a wilderness escape amid the city surroundings. The 500-acre park features picnic areas, miniature golf, an antique carousel, a 55-acre lake with canoe and kayak rentals, and miles of multiuse trails. The main Lake Accotink Trail follows part of the former railbed of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, along which soldiers and supplies were transported during the Civil War. Historical markers outline the railroad’s history and mark the entry to the park.
On the north side of the lake, as well as downstream from the lake, the trail connects to Fairfax County’s 40-mile Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail. South of the lake, between the main trail and the railroad tracks, is an extensive network of singletrack trails popular with bikers and hikers. (Many of these trails feature steep inclines, with some leading off park property, and signage is not provided.) Ninety percent of the trail is a mix of gravel and dirt, with patches of asphalt covering the rest. Stretches of the trail featuring asphalt include the northern part of the trail (around Ellet Road) and the southernmost part of the trail heading to Carrleigh Parkway.
At the trail’s start, it’s impossible to miss the still-operating trestle high above Accotink Creek. The creek’s dam, constructed more than 50 years ago, created a popular fishing hole. (Do not attempt to cross during or after heavy rainfall, as this area is susceptible to frequent flooding.) As you leave the picnic and boat-rental area behind on this clockwise route, you’ll head up a short, steep hill toward the woods surrounding the lake. (If that seems daunting, do the route in reverse and descend the 60° hill instead.)
The first half of this route hugs the lake’s curves as it travels deeper into the small wooded preserve that provides shade and wonderful views of the marshland and lake. When you reach the fork in the road at the trail’s midpoint, either continue straight for another 0.75-mile jaunt on the rail-trail before it dead-ends at Rolling Road/VA 638 or follow the trail marker indicating a right turn to a 4.5-mile loop back to your starting point. The loop option takes you down a short hill and onto neighborhood sidewalks for three or four blocks and past an elementary school before you return to the park.
On the main route, several stairs lead downhill to a bridge and back to the Lake Accotink Trail, which circles around the other side of the lake to the creek and surrounding marshland. Your round-trip will end with a wonderful view of the antique carousel and geese swimming in the shallow lake waters.
Parking is available at the Lake Accotink Heming Ave Parking Lot (5660 Heming Ave), the Lake Accotink Park (7500 Accotink Park Rd), and Lake Accotink Parking on Accotink Park Road west of Highland St.
From Washington, D.C., take Interstate 395 south. Take Exit 2B (Edsall Road) and travel 1 mile. Turn left onto Backlick Road. Take the third right onto Leesville Boulevard, and then turn left onto Heming Avenue. Turn right into Lake Accotink State Park just before Heming Avenue curves to the east.
Some of the advice I saw in other reviews was helpful, as was this app! The trail dumps out at midpoint into a neighborhood, and without the app I would not have found where it picks up again. Really nice trail with varied terrain. Lots of shade on a hot day.
I visited the trail with friends and families and I love it so much. If you enjoy walking or jogging or biking, this is the perfect place.
Great nature viewing! Saw three deer and a robin. Heard several crows. Totally worth it, alone. Almost completely shaded with the exception of a small stretch by the marina. Perfect for Summer running! Kept it cooler.
Nice wide path, gravel. In some parts the gravel is very large and that can make an impact on your feet when you strike the ground. But for the most part, it's small gravel, dirt. Got lost trying to stay on the trail to loop the lake. There's a turn off but it wasn't obvious to me that I should go that way so I went straight for a while before turning around. There are some decent hills to run up/down. I did not get to the section of the trail that has the steady gradient that some other reviewers mentioned.
I would definitely go again. Will add it to my rotation.
I started at the dam, along the northern bank. The trail isn't blazed, but it's also obvious what path the trail takes. Obvious, that is, until the top of the loop.
You are unceremoniously dumped into a residential neighborhood with absolutely no markings as to where the trail continues. Coming up the hill, there are four possible routes to take. I tried three, and after not finding the continuation of the trail (and wasting 45 minutes), I returned the way I came.
If you take the backwards way, it's not that bad of a trip. Taking the long 60 degree hill is a challenge but it's not too bad. I'm a smoker and was able to do the lake accotink and got lost in the cross country(so I did about 5-8 miles of biking). I was lost but it was a joy riding around on the trails. If you take the off routes by the bridge over the train, it's amazing joy to take all those extreme jumps and conditions. The main course is a breeze and extremely enjoyable. I don't recommend doing the whole train right away. Study the train and go half way until you complete it all. Just to get used to the conditions. I ride this trail 2-3 times a week. I highly recommend going to this.
I made my maiden voyage from Audrey Moore Recreation Center to the Lake Accotink Trail. The trail is mostly dirt, gravel (large rocks), shaded by large trees and slight elevation changes. The distance is between 6.5 to 7 miles. The trail was wide enough for bike and running traffic. Highlights of the trek included going under Braddock Road and running along the Accotink stream. The views of the lake were from an elevated position with windows through the large trees. The Lake Accotink Marina had a restroom and water fountain which is about the half way point. Things to beware; the backside of the loop is not clearly marked, you do have to run or bike along residental roads to rejoin the trail so read/memorize the route.
The loop trail around the lake is just under four miles and if you are in shape it is a very fast ride, most of it is quite level with a few hills thrown in. The trail is very well maintained. Don't let the other review scare you, I ride it with my kid in the bike trailer all the time and it's around 20 minutes with the trailer. The first steep hill is indeed a nice quadricep-blaster but you can also go counter-clockwise around the lake and come down this hill if you can't handle it. Unless you are a complete novice you will have no problem with this trail.
There are also nice mountain bike trails on the south side of the lake, continue up past the dam and follow the singletrack up the hill off of the main trail in to a large trail network that will keep you busy for some time. A lot of up and down and some challenging drops/climbs. The loop trail connects you with other trails at Wakefield Park so you can really make a day of it between the two parks. These trails are not dedicated for bikes so be mindful of other trail users of course.
My husband and I were under the wrong impression about this trail and ended up with quite the challenge (in the rain, no less!, and pulling a bike trailer with our 3-year-old on board). The trail starts with about a 60-degree hill for about 100 feet. This part of the trail is paved but after that you can count on lots of dirt and mud and very loose gravel which makes for a slick, skidding surface in the rain. Make sure you have your MTB tires in good condition! The trail also runs at uphill the entire way around the lake in this direction with a few steep, very brief descents (one of them so steep that there is a sign warning bikers to get off their bikes and walk).
There was a short jaunt up a residential street (Danbury Rd, I believe) past a school, and this was the easiest part of the trail even though it was uphill too.
There was no coasting, no relaxing, and I couldn't tell you a single portion of scenery we passed because I was too busy concentrating on powering up inclines on wet, loose stone and staying on my bike! Granted, I only started riding about 6 weeks ago (weekends only) and have been doing paved trails only up to this point.
We made it the entire 3.8 miles around the entire loop and back to the parking lot by the carousel, but it did take us about 40 minutes to accomplish this and my husband had to walk the trailer and his bike up quite a few hills (he has only been riding about a month).
I think this would be a decent challenge for an advanced beginner/intermediate mountain biker and fun day out for someone with more experience and stamina. I was able to conservatively ride the entire loop on my Giant but did have to get off and walk down some steep inclines (at the beginning and end of the street section of the trail). Our son did not enjoy the ride at all as he was bounced around more than a kernel of corn in a hot air popper.
I felt it was a very good challenge for myself, not something I'd do every weekend though. It was too much for my husband (who not only had slicks on his touring bike but was also pulling the trailer). It certainly gave us a lot to talk about afterward though!
"THE PART OF THE LAKE ACCOTINK TRAIL THAT
RUNS FROM ROLLING ROAD DOWN TO THE LAKE
IS ONE OF THE FEW REMAINING PARTS OF THE
ORIGINAL GRADE OF THE ORANGE AND
ALEXANDRIA RAILROAD, BUILT IN 1853. THE
CROSSING OF ACCOTINK CREEK HAS BEEN
REALIGNED TWICE SINCE THEN. THE ORIGINAL
CREEK CROSSING AND THE FIRST REALIGNMENT
ARE GONE FOREVER. THE SECOND REALIGNMENT
IS THE PRESENT RAILROAD BRIDGE OVER THE
CREEK. IF YOU LOOK CAREFULLY AS YOU COME
AROUND THE LAST BEND APPROACHING THE LAKE,
YOU CAN VISUALIZE IN YOUR MIND WHERE THE
ORIGINAL CROSSING WAS. AS YOU WALK OR
BIKE DOWN THE GRADE FROM ROLLING ROAD, IT
IS INTERESTING TO LET YOUR MIND IMAGINE
THE DAYS WHEN THE MOST ADVANCED LOCOMOTIVE
WAS THE 4-4-0 ""AMERICAN."" YOU CAN JUST
SEE THE ENGINEER STRUGGLING TO GET HIS
LOAD UP THAT LONG GRADE! ALL IN ALL, A
VERY WORTHY RIDE FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN
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