The northern half of the Fairfax Cross County Trail follows
the the Difficult Run Stream Valley. Ending just below the rapids
of Great Falls on the Potomac River, Difficult Run stretches into
the heart of Fairfax County. This section of the Fairfax Cross County
Trail avoids housing developments for many of its fifteen miles.
Less than a quarter mile is on roads. How is this possible? Because
the county banned the construction of housing in flood plains, the
banks of Difficult Run form a suburban greenway, a de facto linear
park. Imagine walking for miles without seeing cars in Fairfax County,
the largest suburb of Washington, D.C.!
begins where several small feeder creeks flow together in the middle portion
of Fairfax County, near the City of Fairfax. For the few miles it flows
east, it is sluggish. Where it turns south, it picks up speed until it
reaches Lake Accotink. A man-made resevoir, Lake Accotink is the centerpiece
of popular park by the same name, operated by the Fairfax County Park
Authority. Below the dam of Lake Accotink, Accotink Creek flows more swiftly.
The American Whitewater Affiliation rates the section below Telegraph
Road as Class 2 - Class 3 rapids.
In much the same way the
north half of the Fairfax Cross County Trail follows the Difficult Run
Stream Valley, most of the FCCT south of Fairfax City follows the Accotink
Creek Stream Valley. The trail passes by Lake Accotink in Lake Accotink
Park, home of the annual cardboard boat regatta and the site of a 200
feet high railroad trestle.