Another new spot

This past weekend we tried the same hiking recipe as the weekend before: a new hiking route on Saturday, this time around Old Town Fairfax, Virginia; followed by an old favorite on Sunday, Difficult Run, starting from Colvin Run Mill and heading downstream.

The starting point for Saturday’s hike was the Stacy C. Sherwood Center, a nice community center just north of Old Town Fairfax along Old Lee Highway. The route  consisted of two legs: first, a 1.7 mile loop (traced in red on the map below) along sidewalks through Old Town, taking in a few of the historic buildings along the way; and second, a 3.5 mile out-and-back hike through Daniel’s Run Park. The loop through Old Town was surely not as detailed as one of the 90-minute guided tours offered by Historic Fairfax City, but on the other hand, there wasn’t a $5 per-person fee, either! Since our goal was to keep moving, rather than stopping at each site for a lengthy discussion, I handed out a little map with descriptions of the sites taken from the Historical Marker Database. (A pdf version is available here.) This also had the fringe benefit of helping me to keep my mouth shut. (What was that quote from Abraham Lincoln again? “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”) 😀

Bell-Daniels HikeStriking out east along the Daniel’s Run Trail (traced in blue on the map above), we passed a pleasant little pond with a fountain and a blue heron keeping an eye on things before we disappeared into the deep woods. The cool quiet and tall trees are so peaceful that, except for the occasional signpost indicating a path leading to one of the surrounding streets, you would almost think you left the city behind!

Sunday’s hike was a lot more “countrified” — after leaving Colvin Run Mill and entering the Difficult Run Trail, it was 5.5 miles of shaded dirt and mud trails, moderate to easy difficulty level, and broken only by one road and four stream shady crossings. I hadn’t been there in two years, but nothing has changed, and the stream crossings are sturdy enough that Difficult Run has to be really high in order to prevent a crossing.

All told, the two hikes yielded 10.7 miles of smiles. I really like coming up with fresh routes to hike rather than the same old cookie-cutter hikes that everyone knows by name. That’s not to say the familiar ones are bad; it’s just like retelling a favorite story — you already know how it ends. The only rub is finding the time to reconnoiter them in advance, since the map and the real thing can be considerably different!

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15 Responses to Another new spot

  1. speakinginvolume says:

    If you have the time, you should take a trip to Boone. There are great hiking trails there and some incredible views.

  2. K@TIE :) says:

    Such pretty pictures, looks like an awesome spot!!

  3. John M says:

    Thanks! With the August heat on the way, we definitely have to be on the lookout for shady trails! 😉

  4. John M says:

    That’s a little distant (6.5 hour drive) for the hiking group members, but it sounds like a nice overnight for just a few friends. Is there a particular trail you recommend?

  5. K@TIE :) says:

    That’s so cool 🙂 love the buildings too

  6. Jet Eliot says:

    Your hikes sound and look delightful. So much history, too. I suppose it makes you think who has walked here before you.

  7. speakinginvolume says:

    There is a really nice trail called Rough Ridge. Its on the same road as grandfather mountain and the views are incredible.

  8. Looks beautiful, John! Your pictures put me right there and I love the “wetness” everywhere: the air, the rocks, the ground, the fauna. It’s so different than the dry air out here in AZ.

  9. John M says:

    That’s for sure! In fact, there’s a historical marker at Colvin Run Mill marking “The Old Road to the West, …an 18th-century wagon road from the Shenandoah Valley to Alexandria that probably originated as an Indian path. George Washington passed by here in 1753 and 1754 en route to persuade the French on the Ohio River to withdraw from English territory. In 1755, during the French and Indian War, a brigade of Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock’s army traveled the road on its ill-fated march to Fort Duquesne.”

  10. John M says:

    Thanks! You’re definitely right about the wetness: one of our hikers slipped and abruptly “sat down” in the mud! She wasn’t badly hurt, but certainly didn’t enjoy the experience… o_O

  11. Jim says:

    Not that I would ever disagree with anything that Abe Lincoln said, but your historical comments are one of the best parts of the hikes.

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