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VA-Colts Neck / Lake Fairfax

Lake Fairfax Park & Colvin Run Stream Valley Park (aka Colt’s Neck)
1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston, VA, 20190
(Alternate trailhead: 1800 Michael Faraday Court, Reston, VA, 20190)

Trail Conditions Forum Here

Trail Liaison: Frank Raiti, Robert Conley, ColtsNeck@more-mtb.org

Coming Trailwork Days: The second phase of volunteer build will begin Fall 2011. Corridor clearing and perhaps some material-staging will start in Sept. Check calendar for dates.

Description


Colt’s Neck is a looped, multi-use trail system passing through Lake Fairfax and Colvin Run Stream Valley Parks and interconnecting the Washington & Old Dominion and Fairfax Cross County Trails. The 9.5-mile loop formed by Colts Neck, the CCT, and the W&OD is a favorite for its constantly changing natural terrain and experience and has become a benchmark used by many to score their fitness level. At 480 acres, Lake Fairfax Park is one of the largest parks managed by Fairfax County Park Authority and hosts a full range of amenities, including the lake and streams for paddling or fishing, a water park, campgrounds, pavilions, athletic fields of all types, not to mention nearly 10 miles of natural surface trail.

What we call Colt’s Neck is also referred to as the Rails-to-River trail – an old equestrian path connecting the W&OD Railroad to the Potomac River – and is still used extensively by local equestrians. For this reason, most of this trail is doubletrack.

Lake Fairfax Park is currently undergoing a redesign and expansion of the current trail system which will add several miles of singletrack while significantly improving the sustainability of the existing Rails-to-River (doubletrack) trails and singletrack. The project plan also includes a large pump track that will be accessible via the new trail system. Construction on the new trails began on National Trails Day, June 5, 2010 and will continue in phases over the next few years. Keep an eye on the trails discussion thread for upcoming construction dates and details.

Trail Description: The 3-mile main trail running through Colvin Run SVP and most of Lake Fairfax is wide and accommodating. There are several steep pitches that have suffered significant erosion, exposing some gnarly roots, but there is ample smooth dirt for even novices to pick their way through. Unfortunately, the only trail that is signed is the main route, which is marked with wooden posts with a horseshoe and painted white at the top. The singletrack is not marked at all.

Throughout Lake Fairfax Park you will notice numerous intersections that take you away from the main trail. This is where the fun starts. There are several miles of singletrack that offer a variety of challenges, exploring rocky ridges, log piles, and hilly terrain as they meander around the dense forests. Don’t worry about getting lost – as long as you stay close to or south of Colvin Run, all trails will bring you back to the main, Rails-to-River trail. Further, while it’s never a good idea to ride wet trails, these “off-piste” singletrack trails tend to drain much better than much of the main trail. So if you find puddles on the RTR, definitely hit the singletrack.

Notes: These trails are multi-use trails on publicly owned land. You will encounter equestrians, hikers, runners, and families out for casual walks. Please follow the rules of the trail and yield to other trail users, stop and ask permission before passing equestrians, and give a friendly greeting to other users. These trails are for everyone to enjoy. Be an ambassador for responsible mountain biking. Unauthorized trail building or the construction of man-made stunts is strictly against the law. If you are interested in working on trails contact the trail liaison and come out for a MORE trail work day.

Directions

The most popular trail head is at the Skatequest Ice Rink on Michael Faraday Court, in Reston. When you enter the driveway off the cul-de-sac, enter the parking lot on your left, then go all the way back, to the left-hand (or northwest) corner of the parking lot. You’ll see a smaller hidden lot with posted signs in this area. The trail starts at the far corner of this smaller lot. (Don’t mind the posted signs – the FCPA has an easement for the trail through this property.) Keep in mind, while the trails are on public land, the entire parking area is on private property.

Map to Ice Rink Trailhead

If you want to spend more time exploring the park’s amenities or to enjoy a pleasurable picnic on the lake after your ride, you can also start within the park. Driving into the park on Lake Fairfax Drive, go all the way to a T and turn left, then follow the road around to an intersection where you’ll see a cinder-block restroom facility ahead of you to the left. You can park anywhere along here. From here you can ride along the road that goes to the soccer fields for 170 yards and you'll see a kiosk marking the new trail entrance.

Map to Park's Trailhead

Trail Navigation for the 9.5-mile Loop

Section 1: Colt’s Neck. This section is signed with wooden posts marked with a horseshoe and white paint. Starting at the Skatequest ice rink, the trailhead is in the back left corner of the parking lot. This is where the trail drops into Lake Fairfax Park. Following the trail you will eventually cross a creek and come to a fork.

Take a right at the fork to begin a long, gentle climb. After a few ups and downs, you’ll come to a soccer field with a wire fence on your right. Following the fence line, you’ll see a narrow trail opening within 10 feet of the fence and another wider path along the main trail farther to your left. (Either trail will get you where you need to be.)

If you stay on the main trail you’ll cross two more streams. Immediately after the second one, take the trail to the right to avoid the nasty eroded climb and follow this trail all the way up to the Cricket Field. You’ll see a trail in the grass along the fence line to your right which takes you to a gravel road. Follow this gravel road down the hill and straight out the other side, still using the white-topped posts as your guide. This will take you to Hunter Mill Rd.

Once you cross Hunter Mill Road you’re in Colvin Run SVP and the trail gets very easy to follow. It’s wide and winding and generally pretty fast. The Colt’s Neck section and Colvin Run SVP end when the trail pops up to Carpers Farm Way. From here you can cross route 7, following the CCT on to Great Falls or you can take the CCT south to finish the loop. Both ways on the CCT follow Difficult Run.

Section 2: CCT (Difficult Run). This section is signed with brown carsonite posts with the CCT emblem on them. To continue the loop, cross Carpers Farm Way into the grassy clearing and look for the singletrack with the CCT signs. This trail heads through a pine forest and comes out on another gravel road, which will lead you to another road to cross.

Cross the street and go left to pick up the paved path. Once on the paved path, make sure you stay to the right at any forks. This section of the CCT is bordered by houses on the left and sensitive watershed on the right. Continue looking for the crushed gravel path that will come up on your right.

Turn right on the crushed gravel path and follow underneath the Dulles Toll Road. Follow the singletrack around and over the creek. Once over the creek you are on another gravel access road. Follow the access road, looking left to pick up the singletrack again. If you end up in the neighborhood, you've gone too far.

Taking a left at the singletrack, you will cross over a bridge and follow more singletrack for over a mile until you come along a creek and to a fork. Take the trail to the right up the hill and follow it until it dumps you out at a small athletic field in Tamarack Park.

Continue straight over the field and take a left on the crushed gravel path. This will take you straight to the W&OD.

Section 3: W&OD. Take a right on the crushed stone path beside the W&OD for a quick 2 mile spin. Take a right when you reach Michael Faraday Court. At the back left of the cul-de-sac is another short piece of singletrack that ends at the trailhead where you started.

Trail Information

Trail Length: LFP: about 10miles, Colvin Rrun SVP: about 1.5 miles

Trail Type: Double and Singletrack

Trail Level: Easy to Moderate

Number of Trails: Numerous interconnected segments.

Website: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/lakefairfax/

Fees: None. Access is free.

Park Hours: Dawn to dusk

Night Riding: Not yet

References

Telephone Numbers:
Emergency - Fairfax County Police - 911
Lake Fairfax Park - (703) 471-5415
Park Operations Division - (703) 324-8594
Non-Emergency Fairfax County Police - (703) 691-2131

Trail Map:

FCPA Map - This map appears on the signs in Lake Fairfax Park. It shows most current and some future trails. Expect revisions.
Jabberwocky's Map - Excellent, well-maintained map with all the current trails. (Thanks, Chris!) - Link corrected 12/1/11

*These maps do not show Colvin Run Stream Valley trail.

GPS Track:

if you have some, please send and I'll post

Videos

if you have some, please send a link and I'll post it

Photos

Pictures and videos from:

Last edited by liznotter; December 16th, 2011 at 08:15 PM.
 

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