by Angela Meyers

Welcome to the second segment of the Cross County Trail! This part of the hike takes us from Reston to the City of Fairfax. Exploring this trail has been a great experience, and I am very pleased that I took on this challenge so I could share it with you. I hope you all get out and investigate parts of the trail, even if you don’t tackle it all. To get a trail overview please refer back to the NOVADog Spring 2017 Issue or review the Fairfax County trail map: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/cct/. Bring your fully charged phone (with a GPS) and zoom in until you can see the trail. Technology is very helpful in ensuring you stay on track!

We concluded Segment 1 at Lawyers Rd in Reston, so we’ll pick up the trail on the other side of Lawyers Rd for Segment 2. After crossing Lawyers Rd, the trail turns rustic again. It is no longer paved and very few houses are visible. The trail runs along small creeks and then along Little Difficult Run. I saw a deer in my first minute, which set the pace for a great day of wildlife viewing that included a half dozen deer (one with her nursing fawn), a hummingbird, various dragonflies, spring peepers, and a chipmunk. Although I was hiking on a 95 degree day, the stream bed and tree canopy kept things relatively cool. As mentioned before, there are places where it’s unclear where to turn, but in general the trail is well marked. Leave time for wrong turns, and if you travel more than a few hundred feet after making a choice and you don’t see a trail marker, turn around. You’ve likely gone off trail and you can quickly get back on the right track. Though these annoyances exist, the trail’s beauty and surprising remoteness within our densely populated county make it well worth it.

This segment starts right after Mile Marker 10. At Marker 10.5 you’ll cross Little Difficult Run on well-placed stones. The trail is multi-use, and while I only encountered a few bikers and a few other dog-lovers, I saw indications of horses—if you have a skittish dog, be aware. For most of the next 4 miles you’ll be fairly close to the water’s edge, with plenty of access points for dogs who love to swim and fetch sticks. The water on the day

I was there was very low and safe. At Mile 15, you come out on Miller Heights Rd. Turn right, follow the road for 0.2 miles, cross the street and turn left back into the woods at the crosswalk. It’s nicely wooded with wider paths and slightly rolling hills.

While it isn’t streamside, house sightings are still rare and you’ll cross just a few roads before you eventually parallel the Oak Marr Golf and Rec Center at Mile Marker 16.5. It’s a great rest stop for this segment  (water, restrooms, and a place to put your feet up). This concludes the most scenic part of Segment 2. The next 4 miles follow roads and neighborhood trails. Access the Rec Center by turning right on Jermantown Rd.

To continue, turn left onto Jermantown Rd cross at the light, staying on Jermantown. At the second light it turns into Blake Ln where you’ll pass the Blake Lane Park Dog Park. You’ll walk over Rt. 66 on a pedestrian bridge. Shortly after turn left onto Five Oaks Rd, which becomes Saintsbury Dr. Then turn right onto the bike trail on Vaden Dr, it veers off to the right after just 0.1 miles. Stay on the bike trail until it intersects with Rt. 29. If you need provisions, there is a 7/11 and a little restaurant with outdoor seating (ABC Cantina) at the Corner of Lee Hwy and Pickett Rd just a short distance to the right. You are almost at the end of the segment. Cross Rt. 29 at the light, turn left, and pick up the bike trail again.

Follow it through the park and you’ll come out at the intersection of Pickett Rd and Arlington Blvd. Turn left to cross the street, stay on Pickett Rd, and continue about ½ mile down Pickett to Thaiss Park, which is where we conclude Segment 2. That’s 20 miles down, 20 to go!

Trail Specifics:
Distance: Create your own length from the 10 miles featured.
Fido-Friendly Features: Shaded, streamside, unpaved surfaces, lots of wildlife, and very few people.
Best Time to Go: During daylight hours. Avoid after a heavy rain.
Access: Off Lawyer Road on Birdfoot Lane, there are 2 small pull-offs for parking. There is a parking lot at Oak Marr Rec Center and Thaiss Park.