Cub Run is a tributary of Bull Run, and starts from just south of Dulles Airport and meanders south about 10 miles to where it flows into Bull Run southwest of Centreville, VA. There’s quite a network of trails along Cub Run, but I had not hiked any of them, so for the first outing I chose to take advantage of the Cub Run RECenter as a jumping-off point for a roughly 5-mile hike north and south of the center. A map recon was good enough to announce the hike, but since I hadn’t visited before, I hiked the route by myself at dawn a couple of days before the group event. What a rewarding visit! Click on the photo below to view a Flickr slideshow in a new window.
Dawn is always when all the animals are out and on their best behavior, so to speak, and if you’re by yourself, it’s much easier to go unnoticed. Quite a few deer were out, including a cautious doe and her unconcerned fawn, and a heron flew over just as I was finishing up, with its characteristic crooked-neck flight posture. (Surely that’s uncomfortable!) The actual hike on Saturday was pleasant, but since it was much later at 10 am and with lots of folks, it was a much different experience.
Sunday’s hike at Bull Run Mountain was pretty straightforward, and a 74-degree overcast day made for a pleasant hike. An alert hiker notified me the day before that the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy recently changed its usage guidelines to ban dogs. No reason was given, but from what I’ve seen recently, I imagine there were just too many complaints involving hikers allowing dogs to run off their leash. (During our recent hike to Fort Stevens, one of our hikers was knocked down by large dogs running unleashed. Fortunately she wasn’t hurt, but the incident could have gotten out of hand and been much worse.)
Anyway, Bull Run Mountain has one of the best payoff to sweat ratios around, since a relatively easy 2.5-mile climb yields a rewarding view west from the rocky cliffs, with the Appalachian Mountains in the distance. While enjoying the view, we glanced down and noticed someone else enjoying the midday sun on the cliffs: a big timber rattlesnake! It was obviously aware of our presence but unconcerned, since it was still sunning itself when we left.
In addition to the changed usage guidelines at the conservancy, there’s another notable charge in the area: the Haymarket Village Center has been completed at the nearby intersection of I-66 and US-15. Purists might lament any construction whatsoever in the area, but I suppose the residents of Haymarket are just as entitled to groceries as everyone else, and it doesn’t really take up that much space. A fringe benefit is that there are now a few nearby places you can make a pit stop before and after hiking, if you aren’t overly fond of portable toilets, as well as a few more restaurants for lunch.
* No, no; not any of this kind of old and new stuff. Hiking, not getting hitched.