Summer 2002 Ultimate Cross-County Hike

(All pictures are from day 2 of the hike - Oak Marr to Colvin Run)

FTAS' big 2002 National Trails Day event, the Ultimate Cross-County Hike, took place May 31-June 2 2002. Under the able leadership of Henri Comeau, we hiked the first leg on Friday, May 31, starting at Lake Accotink. The weather was hot but pleasant the first 80% of the way, in the shadow of the woods.

The last three miles Friday south of Oak Marr were difficult--the only long on-road segment of the CCT. The good news: there is hope for an alternate more wooded route. Mayor Mason of Fairfax City (in the last days of his term) talked with us at some length; the incoming city government is seriously interested in protecting open space and extending the trail further up the Accotink towards 123.

Saturday we continued from Oak Marr. Dranesville Supervisor Stu Mendelsohn met with us at the meeting spot (before rushing off to visit other Dranesville Trails Day events). Providence Supervisor Gerry Connolly spoke of his vision of completing the CCT as soon as possible, and echoed the mayor's interest in getting the middle part off-road. He joined us for the first three miles, along the newly-signed segment to Miller Hts Road (previously very difficult to navigate), as far as the Leeds Road. There, the Hunter Valley Riding Club graciously provided us with snacks and drinks (the group also sponsored its own NTD event, a horseback ride). Sully Supervisor Mike Frey spoke some words of encouragement.

Then on through Oakton and Reston to Tamarack Park--by this time some of us were a bit low on water, so it was a very welcome sight to see volunteers from Northern Vienna Trails (led by Jennifer Madden) welcome us with more drinks and snacks! Jennifer's group seeks to complete a network of trails, e.g. linking Wolf Trap, Meadowlark Park and the CCT.

The trail, overgrown in previous years, was in very good shape all the way to Colvin Run Mill, thanks to increased awareness and use. The part north of Browns Mill Road was freshly stonedusted. The county is well into scoping along this entire segment; the biggest task is a safe crossing of Browns Mill Road. Saturday's leg had the highest turnout of the three, with 21 starting and 17 finishing.

Sunday, we hiked from Colvin Run to Loudoun County, the longest of the three legs. This is the first Cross-County Hike to go north of Great Falls Park. Supervisor Kate Hanley wished us well, and Loudoun Supervisor Chuck Harris spoke of plans to extend the Potomac National Historic Scenic Trail into Loudoun County.

The first part used the newly-built and signed reroute at Brian Jac Road. To cross Difficult Run without benefit of ford, the hikers brought sandals and towels to get across and continue with dry feet. The Great Falls Park snack bar, near the halfway point, was an ideal lunch spot.

A major obstacle has been overcome by the completion of a low water bridge across Clarks Run in Riverbend Park, thanks to the Great Falls Trailblazers. A second stream crossing has recently been built several miles north--a fantastic looking structure with planks along a huge log. Looking like something from "Lord of the Rings", it is never level. Lets hope it survives the next flood!

Karen Jones deserves major kudos for enabling Sunday's event--her team cleared a very long stretch of trail along the river south of Seneca (also near Clarks Run); she provided a detailed and absolutely necessary map of the northern 5 miles. Since Karen got a nasty ankle sprain while clearing trail and couldnt hike with us, she drove to various places along the hike to take pictures.

Nick Boyer and Bill Niedringhaus, the event's coordinator, deserve credit for completing all three legs. We all look forward to the final leg, from Occoquan to Accotink, to complete the Ultimate Cross-County Hike.

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