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Old 10-13-2010, 08:03 AM
43 posts, read 81,723 times
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Just moved to Fairfax and looking for some great trails for me and my dogs. Can anyone recommend some great walking/hiking trails in Fairfax County or even outside of Fairfax County. I know of and have heard of Great Falls but haven't been there yet but that's about all I know. There are a ton listed on the Fairfax County website but I would like to have some recommendations.

Any help is appreciated!!

Thank you.
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:09 AM
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,776,806 times
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How long do you want to hike? What sort of difficulty do you like?

The Heritage Trail is hands down my favorite. It goes along the Potomac River (mostly) from just east of Difficult Run to Algonkian (and technically goes all the way to Leesburg, although it's not such a great trail west of Algonkian). But this trail may be too difficult for a lot of people. Also, there are a few stretches that are very long. Difficult Run and Scots Run also have nice trails. Seneca Park is laced with many pretty trails, including the doggie splash. The hike from Riverbend Park to Great Falls is a classic.

If you enjoy looking at houses as well as woods, the trails in Reston are very nice. I like parking at the Safeway at Hunter Woods and then hiking to the Nature Center.
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:18 AM
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I guess I am not looking for anything too difficult. Just some nice nature trails to enjoy Fall and get some good exercise for the dogs.
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:33 AM
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,776,806 times
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If you don't mind your dog getting wet, your dog will love the doggie splash. It's a little spot along the Potomac that is protected by an island and several fallen trees that long ago dammed up a little swimming hole.

It's in Seneca Park, which is a big park you'll find at the end of Seneca Road (right along the border of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties). Take the dirt trail down to the river. If you have a choice of trails, stick to the widest one. The doggie splash is about 3/4 mile down the path. You'll usually see at least 3-4 dogs there. Dogs just love it! Be aware, most of them are off leash. Sometimes in the summer people swim there, although it's really too shallow for that.

These photos are from last spring when the winter melt was just starting and the river was high. Once the river levels are lower, the area shown in the second photo looks different. The water recedes and you'll see a number of rocks and fallen trees that form a protective buffer (those same rocks and trees are what cause the rapids in this photo). The doggie splash changes from month to month, depending on the height of the river and whether or not new trees have fallen, but usually there's also a little area that's safe for smaller dogs.

Difficult Run is another nice trail to take your dog on. You walk along a rocky stream, winding up at a fairly scenic spot on the Potomac.

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:51 AM
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For ease I like Burke Lake park, plenty of parking, access to facilities etc. But with the dogs beware of people on bikes etc, they can come screaming around the corner, and you don't want coming between you and the dog. It can get ugly. Some people are great with their dogs there, others not as respectful of others. We do it really really early, when it it mostly hard core runners, not the leisurely strollers who walk 4-3 abreast.
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:56 PM
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,013,351 times
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The Mount Vernon trail running along the GW Parkway and the Potomac from Old Town Alexandria to the Mount Vernon Estate (about 9 miles) is a nice path for dog walks, particularly on weekdays when there's not as much traffic on it. If you live out this way another thing you can do is buy an annual pass to the Mount Vernon Estate (about $25) and take your dog along the quite lengthy trail network in there behind the walls.
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Old 10-13-2010, 04:22 PM
Location: Orange Hunt Estates, W. Springfield
628 posts, read 1,723,299 times
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Sections of the 40-mi Cross County Trail should meet your criteria. Not all sections are in good shape but you should find many other parts suitable for your needs. Cross County Trail
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Old 10-13-2010, 06:44 PM
Location: Orange, California
1,573 posts, read 5,637,514 times
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Huntley Meadows in Fairfax County is an underrated park. Also, Rock Creek Park in the District should not be overlooked since it is so close to NoVa.
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:16 AM
43 posts, read 81,723 times
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Thank you all so much. I really appreciate the input! Can't wait to get out there!
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:34 AM
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Fountainhead Regional Park in Loudon County. There are lots of trails - I usually take either the Horsehoe trail (marked with blue horsehoe - horses allowed, but no mountainbikes) or the White trail (hiking only - no horses or mountain bikes).
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