By Carol Brooks
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly hike close to home, try the Pimmit Run Trail in Mclean, VA, located between North Glebe Road and Maddux Lane. Winding along beside Pimmit Run and Little Pimmit Run, this trail is perfect for a winter hike. I first discovered the Pimmit Run Trail with one of our early DogOn Fitness clients, Toasty – a red golden retriever, who loved to splash through the water on her daily fitness hikes. Neighborhood trails have always appealed to me for their natural setting without the travel commitment, so I decided to revisit Toasty’s trail to find out more.
You will find the Pimmit Run Trail starting point where North Glebe Road meets Chain Bridge. If arriving by car, park at a small public lot located at the corner of Glebe Road and 41st Street, just under a George Washington Memorial Parkway overpass. From the parking lot, walk about 50 feet toward Chain Bridge and look for the visible signs for the Potomac Heritage Trail on the left.
The land along Pimmit Run near Chain Bridge was home to Arlington’s first industrial complex in the 18th century. A tavern operated on the property as late as the 1940’s, but signs of any commercial development are no longer visible. An informative placard at the trailhead explains how to locate the site of a grist mill that, in 1814, served as a one-night hiding place for the Declaration of Independence and other important documents during the British invasion.
Luckily for present day hikers, creation of the George Washington Memorial Parkway preserved the area from further development, leaving the area buffering Pimmit Run almost as pristine as it was in early America. The sound of nearby cars and presence of occasional graffiti are reminders of the trail’s urban surroundings, but you and your dog are likely to spot deer, squirrels, an occasional blue heron, and other wildlife as you hike deeper into the woods over this preserved land.
The out-and-back hike begins at the trailhead on North Glebe Road. Follow the Potomac Heritage Trail green blazes, going left at the first fork and continuing for about half a mile. This first half mile of the trail is narrow and hilly, but then it widens and is fairly flat for the rest of the hike. One mile into your hike, the Potomac Heritage trail turns right and crosses Pimmit Run toward Ft. Marcy. Stay on the unmarked Pimmit Run Trail, which continues under a George Washington Memorial Parkway bridge. Shortly after the bridge, you will get to a fork in the trail. Go right at the fork. Follow the trail, using rocks to cross a small creek. Be sure to locate and follow the trail to the right of the chain link fence after crossing this creek. When in doubt, always stay on the path closest to stream. Continue along the dirt trail that ends on a private drive off Kirby Road. This is a good turn-around point for your 3.5-mile out-and-back route. If you want to add mileage, continue on the private drive toward Kirby Road. The trail follows Little Pimmit Run behind a bank of residential mailboxes on the left, and continues for a mile to Maddux Lane where it ends. Turn around at any point and return the way you came.
This trail is restricted to hikers – no bikes allowed – and on weekends is a popular destination for local dog walks. Washouts, roots, and rocks add to the trail’s challenges, but for the most part, the trail is easy to traverse. Opt to go on the trail during dryer weather since the pathway can be muddy and slippery in wet weather. The winter landscape is an excellent setting for unobstructed views. ND
Carol Brooks is co-owner of DogOn Fitness, a daily exercise service for dogs. She specializes in high-energy and overweight dogs, providing them with working walks, running, adventure hikes, and training reinforcement.
Getting There: Parking for the Pimmit Run Trail is located at North Glebe Rd and 41st Street in Arlington, VA. The trailhead is on North Glebe Rd near Chain Bridge Road.
Park Hours: 7 days a week, Dawn to Dusk
What to Bring: Wear sturdy waterproof shoes – the trail has muddy spots and stream crossings. Bring some water for you and your dog, waste bags, and towels for after hike clean-up.
Trail Specifics: The Pimmit Run Trail is unmarked. Check Google maps for the most recent trail map. It is not regularly maintained so be prepared to scramble over downed trees.
Fido-Friendly Features: Off-street parking, bike-free trails, trash cans in the parking area.
Use: Hikers, runners, on-leash dogs.
Best Time to Go: Anytime.
Rated: 1-2 paws. Very easy.