The Washington and Old Dominion Rail Trail - Northern Virginia

Wednesday, May 31, 2006. I am training for two triathlons that will take place during the summer of 2006; the first Chicago in July; the second in Montreal in August. This trip is part of my training.

I took the commuter bus from my office in downtown Washington, D.C. to Leesburg, and then a cab back to Kelly and Joe's house, which is north of Leesburg and near the road that goes to White's Ferry. I picked up my bike, rode south along Route 15 to downtown Leesburg, and picked up the WO&D trail. The WO&D trail is a linear park operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. It is a 46 mile rail trail that runs from the Shirlington section of Arlington to Purceville, Virginia. Old maps show that the railroad was called the Washington and Ohio Railroad, and, like the C and O canal, it never reached the Ohio.

I have been riding on the W O& D for many years, but not during the last five. In the years between my most recent and my last ride, eastern Loudon County has exploded with new subdivisions, roads, and suburban arterial roads. What used to be quiet pastures and fields north and west of Dulles airport have been transformed into typical suburban sprawl with "luxury" townhouses and McMansions. The only positive notes in this transition are that 1) the local governments have built bridges for the bike trail over most of the new 4 and 6 lane boulevards that have been built and 2) on the older two lane country roads that the trail still crosses at grade, the drivers are much more willing to stop, yielding the right of way to bikers on the trail. This is a tremendous change, and I can only believe these suburban drivers use the trail and have children who use the trail. I don't remember drivers being this attentive or courteous to bikers in the early 1990's.

The trip from Kelly and Joe's to Leesburg is about 5 miles. The trail crosses downtown Leesburg about MP 34, and its another 3 miles from the Arlington end of the trail to my house.

For information on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, visit the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority or visit Friends of the W O and D Trail

Riding the W O and D Trail from Arlington to Leesburg, crossing the Potomac at White's Ferry, and then taking the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal tow path back to Washington, D.C. makes a great 80 mile round trip. See my page on the The C and O Canal — Where It All Began

Last Update: June 16 2006