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The Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD), one of suburban Washington, D.C.’s most popular rail-trails, is a fantastic link between the state’s rural and historical past and the nation’s capital. The trail serves as an important spine in the developing 800-mile Capital Trails Coalition network, a Rails-to-Trails Conservancy TrailNation project connecting the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. Along with the Four Mile Run Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, and the Custis Trail, the W&OD Trail contributes to the Arlington Loop. The W&OD was inducted into the national Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2008.
The W&OD Railroad was built in 1859, shortly before the Civil War, and went into disuse in 1968. NOVA Parks opened the first few miles of paved trail in Falls Church in 1974 through an agreement with Virginia Electric and Power Company, which owned the right-of way, and in 1977 began purchasing the land. The trail was completed in 1988. Today, NOVA Parks maintains the trail with the help of volunteers from Friends of the W&OD.
A crushed-stone trail parallels the paved W&OD for 32 miles and is favored by mountain bikers, equestrians, and joggers. Horses are restricted to this gravel trail, though you’ll rarely see one east of Vienna. The trail is exceptionally well marked, with mileposts every 0.5 mile and interpretive signs telling the story of the people and places along the rail line.
The trail’s eastern terminus is in the unincorporated community of Shirlington in Arlington, which makes for a nice starting or ending point. From here, the W&OD Trail is urban for a few miles before exchanging the trappings of the city for leafier suburbs. From east to west, the trail gains elevation, albeit gradually. Bluemont Park is one of many picnic areas and parks within the trail’s first 10 miles. You’ll find water, restrooms, and an old caboose here, as well as a link to the Bluemont Junction Trail, constructed on a former railroad spur.
At 5 miles, the trail provides access to Washington’s Metro system on the Orange and Silver Lines via the East Falls Church Station. As you make your way beyond the I-495 Beltway, use caution at all road crossings, especially during rush hour. The path continues through the communities of Vienna—with an old caboose and train depot—and Reston. Both towns offer plenty of shops and restaurants. The suburban neighborhoods surrounding the trail become more wooded, too. For a worth-while side trip between Vienna and Reston, head onto the mile-long Meadowlark Connector Trail, which leads to the beautiful Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.
The town of Herndon features another caboose and a trailside train depot used as a visitor center. As the trail continues, it passes through Sterling and Ashburn, which features a year-round trailside barbecue restaurant. The historic town of Leesburg is a popular spot for lunch and antiquing. The trail also passes through a nice park. From here, it begins to take on a more rural tone as it continues west.
The final 10 miles from Leesburg to Purcellville travel through the rolling hills of Virginia Piedmont farmland. Horses graze, cornfields flourish, and trail crowds thin out somewhat. The trail ends at the Purcellville Train Depot, which features restaurants and a bike shop.
There are numerous other access points and parking areas along the entire route; refer to the map for more details.
To begin at the southern end of the W&OD Trail, take Interstate 395 to the Shirlington Exit; bear right to head north and drive to the second stoplight. Turn left here on South Four Mile Run Drive. The W&OD Trail will be on the right, paralleling the road. You can park along the side of the road, but it is not advisable to leave your car overnight here. In fact, you're better off parking in one of the parking garages just across the road in downtown Shirlington.
To begin at the northern end in Purcellville, take State Route 7 west. Exit at SR 287 and turn left. Follow SR 287 until SR 7 Business and take a right. Turn right again on 21st Street. The Purcellville Train Depot is 0.25 mile away on the right. Parking is across the street but there are time limits during certain days of the week. Unlimited parking time is permitted at a small lot 1 block east along the trail off Hatcher Avenue.
For more information, visit Friends of the W&OD.
I can’t describe how much I love this trail. It goes longer than anyone could ever want and the people are courteous and everyone looks to be having a great time.
This is our home trail, so this ride was probably our 1,000th. Starting very close to Washington, DC in Arlington, VA, the 44-mile W&OD began with a series of short hills. For about five miles, we rode through wooded neighborhoods bordered by high retainer walls that shielded us from traffic on Route 66. There are a few intersections in the town of Falls Church, but the trail has recently been widened and a few pedestrian bridges have been added. There is almost always a significant amount of traffic on this trail; weekend rides can be frustrating slogs around families with strollers, dogwalkers and children testing their training wheels.
Vienna (with one brewery steps from the trail) was the next town we passed through as we followed the soft buzz of the overhead power lines. Over the years, more and more townhouse communities have sprung up alongside the trail, but still, we frequently see deer grazing fearlessly alongside the trail, and today, we saw a fat gopher, a rabbit, and a black snake.
Next, we pedaled through Reston and along Northern Virginia’s high-tech corridor. During this segment of the trail, we passed the first of three golf courses and two ice skating rinks. A few placid miles later, we crossed through the town of Herndon where one of several good bike shops abut the trail. Things began to look decidedly rural as the trail approached Ashburn, where it traversed broad open fields and passed by a huge stone quarry. The ride through Ashburn was pleasant and traffic definitely decreased the further west we rode, but the prettiest and most peaceful part of the trail began when we passed Leesburg. Leesburg is a very cute and historic town with several breweries, and outside of town, a number of fun wineries.
The remaining 13 miles of the trail were rolling and predominately shaded with occasional barns and farmhouses visible through the trees. Alongside the trail is a 32-mile crushed gravel equestrian trail, and it is on this end of the W&OD where the rare horseback rider is likely to be seen. The trail ends on the edge of the town of Purcellville, where there are restrooms, a bakery that sells bottles of water, a very good restaurant, and more good breweries. (Actually, there are 21 breweries within two blocks of the trail which has to be some kind of record!)
The W&OD is a great bike trail throughout, obviously. But the western part, generally from Herndon to Purcellville, is far nicer and less busy than the eastern part in the northern VA suburbs. The eastern part is my home trail and nice for a quick workout ride, but it is super busy with walkers, talkers, dog on long leashes and obnoxious dudes who think they are in the Tour de France. I like a nice fast ride as much as anyone, but the western portion is not choked with users, much more greenery in a rural-exurban setting, far more beautiful and one that evokes the railroad of yore more, too. Leesburg and Purcellville offer nice rest/eat/drink/chill options if you desire that. Bike from Herndon to Purcellville, the trip back is somewhat more downhill and makes it *slightly* more uphill west and downhill on the return, a nice recipe. It's about 13 miles in that stretch, 26 RT. 4 stars for the eastern bit (after all, a nicely maintained road bike path), 5 stars for western section (as nice as any road bike rail trail, and well paved).
We biked the trail from Asburn to Purcellville and found it to be a very enjoyable ride. We went on Memorial Day and it was great. The asphalt trail itself was in nice shape the entire trip and mileage markers every half mile. Elevation changes are minimal and easy for anyone to manage. Having Leesburg in the middle of our ride was great for foot and snacks both coming and going. Plenty of options. We will ride this trail again!
This is my favorite trail for distance cycling. I drive 40-45 mins here from MD for the quality of surface and the lack of stress in dodging cars on roads. Too bad the C&O Trust in MD is unwilling and/or unable to pave and model their trail after the W&OD. Just beware of oblivious pedestrians with headphones. Pedestrian traffic is higher on weekends and east of Sterling based on trail proximity to towns and residential areas. Otherwise, get out and enjoy!
At Vienna going west is less busy and less stops. I’ve done Shirlington (DC) to Vienna and it was too busy, with big intersections. When I ride during the weekday mornings there’s hardly anybody out, it’s the best time.
First time at this trail. Went to Purcellville Saturday October 5 after riding Brunswick to Harpers Ferry. Lots of parking even for the big minivan. Heading East out of town the trail is smooth and flat following the power line right of way. Total ride was around 40 miles seemed easier going East. Many rest areas and food stops along my ride. Kind of cool but nice weather. Also 90 percent of the cars stopped to let me cross at the many intersections. Not used to this and strange ( I am from Ohio )
I use the trail in the Vienna area and am elderly and love to use the trail walking to exercise. There are some longer parts where there are no facilities (benches) to stop and rest. Could more benches be added please to aid those of us (the elderly) who love to walk the trail but are limited because we need to stop and rest more often. Thank you.
Just feel so fortunate to have this available to us.
Last week I rode from Leesburg to Falls Church on the WO&D -- it's a great trail with long flat segments and rolling hills, going through woods and fields all the way to Tysons and Vienna. Be aware that some of the intersections are dangerous, and toward the western, more rural end, many cars don't even bother stopping. But the trail is well-maintained with many opportunities for stopping (but very few of them with bathrooms, unfortunately).
This is one of the best trails in the east coast. Long, well maintained, and very varied along the way. You can connect with the Capital Crescent Trail through the Custis Trail and complete a century going back and forth.
Yes, some portions of the trail are under electric towers but is still a great trail to ride.
There is a Barbeque restaurant (Carolinas Brothers) in Ashburn, where you can have the best pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw and beans!
The end of the trail at Purcelville is anti-climatic. You end up in a town that seems to be oblivious to the bike trail.
Fortunately, the old train station has bathrooms with hot water! Unbelievable!!!
Rode part of this trail from Purcellville to Leesburg. We were short on time so only got to ride 7 miles out and 7 miles back. Loved the trail. Quiet, nicely paved, marked well and rural when you start out at the Purcellville end. Hope to go back and ride another section again and eventually cover all of it after a few rides!
I have ridden this trail a couple of times while visiting the DC area. The trail is in very good condition and connects to several other trails. The trial seems to be very busy on weekends but not to bad during the week.
Awesome trail with minimal stops for traffic crossing roads. Lots of users on weekends. Week days are pretty quiet during the day. Great way to ride into DC from the west and connect the network of trails.
Did an end to end and return today. Started at 620 in the fog, that was gone early. I much prefer the west end past Leesburg as it is shaded even if climbing Clarke's Gap can be a chore. This is a good ride, but watch traffic on the week days.
I rode 48 miles on this trail as an out and back from Herndon to Purcellville and back. It took about 8 or so miles until the trail got really pretty, but I enjoyed every bit of it. As noted, it is well-marked with markers every .5 miles, signs for water, restrooms, food, air pumps, bike shops, and other attractions such as breweries, chocolate shops, wine shops and BBQ! The trail is in superb shape, and lots of people using it even on a Monday! The only downside is that you have to stop quite often to cross streets, but alas, that is just part of the deal... At each crossing there are crosswalks, and many times the cars stop to let you go through. Thank you Virginia for such a great place to ride!!!
While working in Winchester, drove down here and ran. Town and trail VERY NICE. If you have the opportunity, put in a couple miles here.
When I was working a temporary contract in the Reston Virginia area I had folks recommend this trail to me. I had brought my road race bike along on the trip so I was able to take advantage of this great trail resource. I recommend if you are in the North Virginia area anywhere near Wash DC that this is a trail to visit. It is nicely paved and goes through some very nice areas. It is very popular with people who live near it or are visiting the area. However it is not so crowded that it was difficult to ride fast along it.
I live near and have frequently commuted along the W&OD, and find it nastalgic more than anything since using it for travel since a youngster. It is very well maintained and patrolled now days, and takes you from (DC) the big city and drops you out in the middle of what begins the farm land of Virginia, near the TAT's modern NY to TN course, allowing it to be connected to the rest of the country. The only reason why I give it less thatn a 5 is a very strong disinterest in smelling the smog on the DC end but that stops coming west through Alexandria, leaving the rest of the aroma in spring to be pleasant.
(Smittyboy, you promised, your review says you'll never ride it again, so we're holding you to that! One less grumpy guy is OK by me. Especially one with such dubious judgement, it's like you went out of your way to invent complaints. You have to go uphill sometimes, you don't say! You only want downhill trails, huh? Both ways?)
For normal people, any serious person who rides the W&OD trail loves it! I ride the trail several times per week, various distances between Purcellville and Reston, generally 30miles at a time. For the most part, people are courteous and observe passing decorum ("on your left") and it's the most pleasant part of my day. Anyone remotely familiar with the NoVA area would recognize in advance that the more eastward you go, the more urban, and the more westward you go the more rural. So you have a little bit of everything for everyone. The grades are gradual and manageable by all activity levels. It's never too far to a place to fill that water bottle.
There were some scenic pastoral areas along this portion of the trail. The problem my wife and I ran into was road construction. It appeared that a portion of the trail had been rerouted due to the construction. If this is the case then I hope the rerouting is temporary as it created one fairly short corkscrew curve with major elevation change. I was able to drop to a low gear and made my way back up this heart stopper with far less trouble than I anticipated so in hindsight the challenge was also rewarding. I would recommend for those unfamiliar with the trail than they park at a trail head midway along the trail and avoid many of the road crossings and at least the one major incline. This advice is especially for older cyclists.
I've been riding this trail for about 13 years. It's one of the best things about Northern Virginia. But be careful at road crossings since drivers are inconsistent when it comes to obeying traffic laws. Mostly I have found drivers in the area to stop at trail crossings when they see cyclists.
We picked up W&OD from Custis in Alexandria, and rode tandem (first time!) to Leesburg for an overnight stay, returning next day. Very few steep hills, though there were some long, steady climbs. Nothing too arduous. Saw a deer trailside, and stopped to photograph the huge quarry on our return. The water fountain in Vienna was shut off by this time of year, so we got a little desperate at points for water bottle refills. Unfortunately, we had a 20 mph headwind with 30 mph gust on day 1. It was a tailwind going home, though somewhat diminished. Better this than the other way round! Oh, and they were repaving a section north of Reston. They let folks through, nonetheless.
Biked the trail from purcellville to leesburg and back. Well maintained and scenic. Grabbed a light snack in leesburg and a wonderful dinner at Magnolias in purcellville. Can't wait to do it again.
seems no one here had the awesome experience of being a part of this area in the early '70's
there was no trail, just the rail road bed.
no houses past vienna, simply rolling hills, fields and lots of woods. we called it "the homelands" the "first bridge" was simply the steel structural beams with no sides. the "second bridge" were simply two steel cables strung across the creek. i was told it was erected for the boy scouts to use to traverse across. my crowd just forged the creek on our dirt bikes.
we mostly hung out in the area between barristers place and hunter mill road, as that was our playground. you could go as far as you dared off to either side of the tracks.
it was truly a dreamland
smityboy needs to get a life. I gave this trail 3 stars as I never give a one or a five. I drove all the way from Wilmington De to ride this trail and had a great ride. I just do not understand some people and there expectation.
Actually, I hated riding this trail, and I can honestly say I'll never ride it again. I rode this at the end of summer. I started off at the trail end in Purcellville (cute little town). Nicely enough they had a bike shop there, appropriately entitled, Trails End. I stopped in to ask where I could find a bathroom, and was scolded for carrying a coffee, and told I could not use the facilities if I was not buying anything. I left the store abruptly and found a restroom across the street.
As far as the trail goes, it lacked all the things I look for in a ride - namely scenery. I'm not a sport rider. I ride for fun and leisure. If you like scenic rides, like I do, then skip this trail. This ride was all about riding through the edges of backyards; mainly house farms and McMansions with the occasional pretty wooded area. Everywhere I looked were houses - huge, brand new, and expensive. Every cool view had a house sitting in it. I am one of those bikers that loves to take photos on my rides...on this ride, I really had to look very hard for anything photo worthy. The path was littered with Olympic cycling wannabes, people walking their dogs, teenagers up to no good, etc, etc....it was just not a pretty ride.
One nice thing about this trail though was that it was all asphalt, and it's laid out like a little road for cars, with the dashed line going down the middle. There were some scary intersections at the trail heads on this ride. In fact, too many of them. This is urban biking folks, and I was missing the call of the wild (namely the C&O Towpath, which I really love to ride). Out from Purcelville, I went beyond Leesburg, and decided to turn around at 15 miles. The scenery was getting less and less attractive (okay, that is being nice…it was ugly). At one point I had driven around/under a power station. Power lines were everywhere. In fact, I was so close to them I could hear them "crackling", and could actually feel the static electricity hitting my body. Also, saw lots of dirty factories off in the distance from the trail….ugly!
WARNING: The ride back from Leesburg is all uphill. Although it's slight, it seemed relentlessly forever. This took alot of fun out of the ride. I like hills, but not when they are constant for miles and miles. I guess I'm use to more remote, or just plain scenic rides, and this trail had little to offer IMHO. It was a ride through suburbia. So, in a nutshell, this ride was NOT scenic at all, and the ride back from Leesburg was all uphill. My first and last ride on this trail.
I agree with other reviewers that it's not very a very scenic trail, but it’s very well maintained. I've also seen plenty of wild life and it has a few nice creeks. I’ve done the section between Falls Church to right before Leesburg. So I can only write as to that particular section. It is all paved. There are plenty of places to rest along the way. The rest spots have benches and some have water. Although this section of the trail is flat, there’s a pretty steep hill pass Hunter Rd. going towards Leesburg.
There are stretches beyond Herdon where there is barely any shade. Bring plenty of water. Falls Church and Vienna offer plenty of choices for places to eat. Right on the trail near Ashburn, there’s a BBQ place. Saw it didn’t stop this time, but plan to next time. It’s very convenient right there on the trail.
There are two bicycles shops along this stretch. One in Vienna, off the main street. They repair and are a great bunch of people. They carry all sorts of specialty bicycles. Bought my recumbent there. There’s another place in Herdon, visible from the trail. This one has a coffee shop with real good Starbucks like coffee and it has a clean bathroom. The shop seems to be well stocked with bicycle gear. All the places I've mention have bicycle racks.
On the subject of bathrooms, Vienna and a park beyond Herdon have real bathrooms (sometimes they are closed on Sunday) all others along this stretch are portable potties, and there you take your chances in cleanness, and a variety of odors depending on the day of the week (LOL)
This section of trail has good traffic. Not crowded but you always have company. It feels safe. I encountered cyclist, runners, skaters, walkers, dog walkers and parents with children.
People along this section were very friendly. Riders were generally courteous warning while passing.
All and all it is a very nice ride, just be prepared for the sun. Bring lots of water. Keep in mind that although going toward Leesburg is a smooth ride, you need your energy to come back because, although it is subtle, it’s uphill. Not steep, but you will feel it coming back. Enjoy your ride. I did.
On 9/14 I rode this great trail. It is not as scenic as some I have done but it is a great trail. I started in Vienna and went to Purcellville and back about sixty six miles. On the trip I found only one street crossing that I felt was very bad and that was Wiehle Ave in Reston and this is a bad one. Most of the tough crossing have cross walk lights that the trail user activates. Now for the good stuff, it has it all Mile Marker every half mile, each cross road is marked with its name and the City name, Park Benches, Picnic Tables, Kiosks all along the route with trail maps and information, Restrooms, it even has a couple of Air pumps along the way, a great surface, very good signage, and lots of Historical Markers. If you are a History buff or a Rail Road buff you need to do this trail. I would highly suggest that you have a mirror as some of the Road Bikers really hall the mail. Only the last ten or twelve miles has a canopy so you will need sunscreen. I would say that this is a family friendly trail as there are just a few tough hills. The two high lights for me where the number of old RR Stations and the over look at Luck Stone Quarry. The elevation at Leesburg is 305 and at Purcellville it is 605 a nice climb up but a great ride back. this is one of the best Maintained trails that I have done. Hats off to the Friends of WO&D and the Northern Virgina Parks Authority. If you live in the D.C, Northern Va. or Baltimore area this is a must do trail.
Rode the trail from Herndon to the east end of the trail and back Saturday, and the western section between Purcellville and Herndon on Sunday. Magnolias at the Mill restaurant at the Purcellville end is GREAT! There is also a very good, and helpful bike shop right across the street. The only complaint I have is the indifferent, "it's all about me" attitude of some of the weekend Lance Armstrong wannabe's I experienced on the eastern part, as you get closer to D.C. This is a WONDERFUL multi-use trail that goes through lots of residential areas, so there are lots of families with small kids learning to ride their bikes, young couples with babies in strollers out enjoying the outdoors and elderly people out for a brisk walk. Everybody has as much right as the next person to be on this trail, and for the most part everyone is respectful of the different speeds and capabilities of the different users....except for those bikers who think this is their personal high-speed track. Seriously...some of the riders I witnessed need to confine their activities to the streets, where if they lose control or miscalculate the small spaces between the "obstacles" they try to zoom through at full speed, they will hit a car....not someone's child. Someone is really going to get seriously injured soon if these people don't exercise some common sense and self control!
trail was great, we got out early sunday & did 30 miles (reston to leesburg and back)....great surface, incredibly great signage, good facilities, well marked/traffic-lighted intersections.....we stayed at the hyatt in reston and walked from hotel to trail which was wonderful (the w&od official website has listings of lots of places to stay within walking distance of the trail)....everything about the trail itself was wonderful......but, nobody knows how to share the trail....bikers and walkers and joggers would be riding and walking two abreast and ignore our bell when we wanted to pass and continue to hog the lane....doesn't anyone know how to share.....and are we the only ones in america who have a bell on our bike to warn others???.....anyhow we had a wonderful time, but people....be considerate of others.....
This entire trail is paved, relatively flat, and in excellent condition. The only problems would require expensive fixes, like reducing the number of road crossings. The crossings at Walter Reed Drive, George Mason Drive, Columbia Pike, Lee Highway, Gallows Road, Maple Ave, Hunter Mill Road, Wiehle Ave., Sterling Parkway, and Belmont Ridge Road should all eventually be eliminated as they are particularly dangerous and inconvenient. However, those are the ONLY problems with this trail! Many of the major crossings have already been dealt with.
Since that post in 2005, the Section between Bluemont Park and Carling Springs Road have been realigned, dodging the Four Mile Run trail that was in poor repair. This is one of the best, if not THE best, urban trails in the country! There are numerous services available along the way, such as water, food, and bike shops. At the southern terminus, there is a new connector under I-395 which will take you right to the Mount Vernon Trail, crossing NO roads past Shirlington Road.
The section in Arlington is heavily used, but there are few road crossing and, except where it parallels I66, very pleasant. The Falls Church stretch has many small road crossings: be careful! From Rt. 7, the trail climbs slowly where it crosses I66, then I495. The Dunn Loring area is a long, straight stretch, but with a few crossings, the worst at Gallows Road. Vienna makes a good stopping point. The trail runs 3 miles non-stop, and downhill through the Hunter Valley, then climbs into Reston, where there are a number of minor and major road crossings. Many of the biggest roads in Reston have happily been bypassed using under and overpasses, although this creates a few 'artificial" hills. The trail passes right through downtown old town Herdon, where there is a pleasant park and an interesting museum about the railroad. Past this lies Sterling, where there are few roads, lots of trees, but two big "dips". (If you've ridden this part, you know what I mean!) The trail passes over busy Route 28, and into "the straightaway": a long, straight, flat stretch with almost no road crossings. Stop at Smith's Switch Station for water and gatorade. At Ashburn Road, you come to a b-b-q resturant and furniture store alongside the trail. The "straighaway" continues until the trail curves toward Belmont Ridge Road: be VERY careful at this intersection! The trail passes a quarry, over Goose Creek, and through a meadow as it approaches Leesburg. Leesburg itself has a number of road crossings, but also some nice parks. Past Leesburg, one has a beautiful, wooded trail where you can find some peace and seclusion as you climb towards Clarks Gap, then wander past Paenonian Springs to Purcellville. Finally, the trail comes to an end at 44.77 miles.
The south end of the W&OD trail is a very pleasant ride beginning at Bluemont Park and heading south for about 4 miles. As you go south you are heading down a gradual descent following and crossing the 4 mile run river. There are a number of areas to stop and picnic and public restroom facilities in the Bluemont park. Just north of the park along the W&OD trail is the connection to the Custis trail. At the very south end of the trail it is easy to pick up the newly improved 4 mile run trail. The just completed improvements on the 4 mile run trail address the concerns raised by the previous poster and make a nice ride down to the Potomac river (intersecting the Mt. Vernon Trail at Reagan National airport.) If you continue along the 4 mile run and then return it doubles the ride to 16 miles (down and back.) Another option is to start at the Roosevelt park (next to the Potomac at the north end of the Mt. Vernon Trail) and pick up the other end of the Custis trail (a lot of hills.) The Custis trail will take you to the W&OD trail just north of Bluemont Park. Follow the W&OD trail to the south end and pick up the 4 mile run trail. Take it to the Mt Vernon trail and then follow the Mt Vernon trail back toward DC (be sure to stop at the end of the runway and watch a couple of planes take off overheard) arriving back at Roosevelt Park. The whole loop is about 18 miles.
We broke up the W&OD trail into 3 rides. What a great long rail trail. The western portion is particularly fine. We started from the Lake Fairfax Park campground. The trail is accessible from the campground, but the nature trail is too rough for road bikes (1.7mi.), never mind the deer ticks. There is a Performance Bike shop near the trail and campground. I rode with a father son (11 years old) team who were moving right along. We passed a prison work group working on the trail.
"If you plan on getting to the W&OD from downtown Alexandria via the 4 Mile Run connector as my son and I did in May 2005, be prepared for a trail that appears to be poorly maintained and marked. For example, there are numerous instances where the trail changes directions without a sign indicating which way to go (downtown Shirlington); the plywood sheeting on a bridge entrance was curled up so that it would hit a bike tire at a 90 degree angle, causing a blowout or bent wheel. The connections to the W&OD on the northern end are either missing or misleading. It is plain that this trail is suffering from funding problems. That is too bad, because Alexandria is a great place to start toward the rest of the W&OD."
"This trail is perfect for rollerblading. Lots of great visual features, smooth pavement, and unexpected wildlife. Hills, streams, bridges make this an interesting and sometimes very challenging trail (West from Leesburg). There are plenty of great rest stops and also nearby restaurants. I would love to write a review book on this trail and am compiling a photo diary as a starting point."
"I lived in Alexandria for five years and hit this bike trail about twice a week, starting and stopping at many different places. This trail is so awesome that now living in New York, I make the 5-1/2 hour drive down several times each summer. If you are into mileage it's there for you. If you need a short, level, easy ride it will provide that for you too, with stops to shop, sightsee, and dine."
"I have seen a wide variety of wildlife from the trail, including deer, fox, squirrel, ground hog, snakes, songbirds, king fisher, hawks, vultures, barred owl, common bat, etc. In the spring, the noise of peepers in the wetlands is simply overwhelming."
"I have spent many, many hours on the WO&D trail. I only wish there were more like it in other states."
"All of the trail, from Arlington to Purcellville, is now paved."
"I suppose you can say that I am partial to this trail, especially since I live just down the street from the many access points (Crestview & Herndon Pkwy). The W&OD Trail is a good trail for beginners as well as pros. It's good for beginners because the trail is mostly level with only a few grades, it's good for pros because end to end, it offers a good, long ride, interrupted only by a few areas where the trail crosses some major intersections.
There are some really nice areas along the trail. My favorite is Glen Carlin Park – a beautiful, shady Park, located on the East End near Ballston. Also, the area of Clarks Gap (after Leesburg) continuing through Loudon Cty to Purciville is also very scenic and secluded. There are many rest stops along the W&OD Trail, places to eat and things to do along the way, including the Antique Shopping District in Leesburg, VA, just a few blocks North of the Trail and Glen Carlin Park near Wilson Blvd.
My usual ride is from Herndon to Ballston and back, or from Herndon to Purciville and back. I have also ridden all the way to Georgetown and to National Airport & then back to Herndon, all in one easy day. There are some great little ""cycle-friendly"" places for lunch not too far from the trail, as well as some great places to stop for a picnic lunch.
E-mail me for details if you like. Have fun!"
"My husband and I take this path each spring. We get our son to drop us in Leesburg where we spend the night, wake and roll all day long right into DC. It is a nice path that declines in elevation all the way to the Delta. Once in DC, we have our bikes ready at a local hotel. We spend 2 days doing the zoo, Adamsmorgan and the musams. We put our balades in a bike trailer and ride the rockcreek bike path to rockvill where we have a car waiting. Travelling foot lose and fancy free, just cash in the pocket and comfortable cloths. If you want to try it and need more details send me a e-mail. Its a great way to start out the season, stoping at every mom and pop store for candy and slurppies. There is even a place in Herndon that gives free samples of home made bread."
"AFTER BIKING THE WESTERN HALF OF THIS
TRAIL MORE TIMES THAN I CAN COUNT, I
TRIED THE EASTERN HALF LAST SATURDAY
(9-9-00)FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE TRAIL
WAS MOST ENJOYABLE AND I PLAN TO RIDE
IT MANY MORE TIMES. ONE PROBLEM I
ENCOUNTERED, THOUGH, WAS POOR SIGNING
THROUGH ARLINGTON COUNTY AFTER LEAVING
THE PORTION IN THE CITY OF FALLS CHURCH.
NUMEROUS PLACES IN ARLINGTON HAVE JUNCTIONS WITH OTHER TRAILS, WHICH IS
GREAT, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, DUE TO A LACK
OF SIGNS, IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO
DETERMINE WHICH DIRECTION TO GO AT A
JUNCTION IF YOU WISH TO STAY ON THE
W & O D. AT THE END OF THE W & O D, THE
SIGNS IN ARLINGTON COUNTY AND THE CITY
OF ALEXANDRIA THAT DIRECT YOU TO THE
FOUR MILE RUN TRAIL ARE POOR. IT TOOK
ME SEVERAL WRONG TURNS BEFORE I FOUND
THE FOUR MILE RUN TRAIL SO I COULD GET
TO MY CAR PARKED AT NATIONAL AIRPORT. IT
WOULD BE NICE IF SOMEONE WITH AUTHORITY
TO DO SOMETHING WOULD ACTUALLY USE THESE
TRAILS. AT EVERY - REPEAT, EVERY! -
POINT WHERE YOU CAN GO MORE THAN ONE
DIRECTION, THERE SHOULD BE A SIGN
INDICATING WHICH DIRECTION WILL KEEP YOU
ON THE W & O D OR THE CONNECTION BETWEEN
IT AND THE FOUR MILE RUN TRAIL. THANKS!!"
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