FAQs – Cross County Trail
What is the Cross County Trail?
The Cross County Trail is the primary multi-use north/south trail in the county, passing through woodlands and open space along much of its length. Users can experience a variety of landscapes, from remote wooded terrain to ballfields and developed parks, from wide stream valleys to rolling hills. The trail surface varies too, with parts of the trail wide, paved formal paths and others stonedust or even natural surface trails more appropriate to hikers, mountain bikers or equestrians. The trail crosses several streams and many of the county's main east-west roads. Where no off-road route is possible, the trail follows roadside trails or sidewalks. The trail has multiple points of vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian access. There are maps of each section, available on line or through the Park Authority trails office. Interpretive and directional signs are being installed to assist users in understanding what they are observing and directing them to parking, drinking water, points of interest, etc. This facility crosses through all nine supervisory districts and the City of Fairfax and is an important recreational amenity for all citizens and visitors to Fairfax County.
When will the trail be complete?
A route through the entire length of the trail will be open for the May 6, 2006 Trailfest. The trail will continue to evolve as sections of trail in Laurel Hill are completed, temporary stream crossings are replaced with bridges or other permanent crossings, and sections are re-routed to improve the user experience. Upgrades and improvements to the trail surface will also continue to be made as funding becomes available.
What is the total length of the trail?
The trail is more than 40 miles in length, from the Potomac River in Great Falls Park in the north to the Occoquan River in Occoquan Regional Park in the south.
How long does it take to walk/ bike the trail?
The time on the trail depends on your traveling speed. The paved parts of the trail are also easier to traverse than the more rustic sections. A moderate rate of walking the trail is between two and three miles an hour. There are groups who walk or run the entire trail in one day. There are locations along the trail where it is necessary to walk or carry a bike -- these include an extremely rocky section in the Pohick Stream Valley as well as a number of unimproved and fair-weather stream crossings.
Does the trail link with other trails?
The trail is a north/south "spine" that connects numerous trails throughout the county. Other trails will be connected in the future. For example, the CCT route uses a portion of the W&OD trail, providing a link to that major east/west trail. The three stream valley trail systems (Pohick Stream Valley, Accotink Stream Valley, and Difficult Run Stream Valley) that are part of the trail continue into other areas of the county beyond the connections of the CCT. The CCT links to the Fairfax County Parkway trail. A connection into Prince William County will be provided when the Lorton/Laurel Hill extension is completed. Links to the Route 1 Bikeway Trail and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail to connect into Loudoun County and into Prince William County are also anticipated.
What other parks and park facilities are accessible directly from the trail?
What other parks or facilities are accessible from the trail by side trails or other trail links?
Where are drinking water, restrooms, and food available?
What are the rules of etiquette on the trail?
What type of use is allowed on the trail?
The trail is multi-use in various sections. Pedestrians, joggers, bikers, skaters and equestrians share different parts of the trail. Some of the trail sections will not be appropriate for some uses. For example, much of the Difficult Run portion of the trail will not be surfaced and is frequently muddy, with steep slopes and narrow passages. Many parts of the Accotink Stream Valley portion of the trail are paved and not appropriate for equestrian use. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on any part of the trail. The exception is for Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (Segways and similar devices).
What is the surface of the trail?
Different sections are surfaced differently to meet a variety of needs. Pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bikers, skaters, and equestrians share the trail as it is appropriate to their activities. A large portion of the trail in the Accotink Stream Valley is asphalt or concrete, while many sections along Difficult Run remain natural surface or stonedust. Sections along the roadways are concrete sidewalks or asphalt roadside trails.
Which sections are paved?
Starting at the southern end of the trail:
What roads are crossed by the trail and with what type crossing?
Starting at the southern end of the trail:
What sections of the trail are appropriate for families with small children?
Any section of the trail could be walked with children; however, some areas are rougher and require more care. Also, there are some road and stream crossings that are difficult. The following sections would be especially suited to families with young children.
How do I get to the trail?
The individual section maps show neighborhood connections, parking, and amenities such as restrooms and water fountains. Parking at major parks, such as Oak Marr, Wakefield, and Lake Accotink is shown. There is also access to the trail from other trail systems, such as the W&OD and the Reston trail system. The CCT is connected to the Franconia/Springfield Metro station via the Franconia Springfield Parkway Trail and to the Vienna Metro station via the W&OD/City of Fairfax Connector Trail. It is also accessible by Metrobus along most east-west roads, including Georgetown Pike, Leesburg Pike, Lawyers Road, Vale Road, Route 123/Jermantown Road, Lee Highway, Arlington Boulevard, Little River Turnpike, Braddock Road, Old Keene Mill Road, and Rolling Road.
What kind of maps have been created for the trail?
The trail has been divided into ten sections (plus an additional section for the Laurel Hill Greenway - LHG) for purposes of mapping. Maps exist for the ten sections and a map of the LHG will be developed in 2006. There are separate maps for the trail within Lake Accotink Park and within Wakefield Park.
How is the trail marked?
Four types of signs are used to mark the CCT. All have the CCT logo in red. There is a tan recycled four by four plastic post with the logo -- these signs are installed so that the logo side faces the trail, parallel to it. There are brown fiberglass markers that are installed perpendicular to the trail and may include red arrows, indicating angle of turn on the trail. If there is a fork or intersection in the trail, these signs should show you which way to go. If there is no sign, generally stay on the trail you are on. A shorter brown fiberglass marker looks the same as the markers described above, but includes numerals to indicate the distance in miles from the Potomac River, southbound. Both miles and half-miles are marked except where the trail is not located on FCPA land. A fourth type of sign is a six inch by six inch aluminum square that is used along road right-ofways and on the grounds of Great Falls Park. Additionally, the brown markers with road names are installed near roads that don't have another easily visible sign identifying them. Trailhead signs for each of the ten sections have been installed, with an additional sign planned for the LHG. These signs include a map of the trail section and a "you are here" star. Interpretive signs are also located along the trail on FCPA land and additional directional and informational signs will be installed in the future.
Where are access points to the trail?
The trail is easily accessible from many neighborhoods in the county. There are a number of connector trails from subdivision streets and trails within the neighborhoods. Major connections are shown on the trail map.
The trail also crosses several major roads and can, of course, be accessed directly from any of them.
There are also trail connections within Laurel Hill Park, Byron Avenue Park, Lake Accotink Park, Wakefield Park, Eakin Community Park, Thaiss Park (the City of Fairfax), Blake Lane Park, Borge Street Park, Oak Marr Park, Tamarack Park, Clarks Crossing Park, Colvin Run Mill Park and Great Falls Park.
What should I do if I am injured on the trail?
If you have a cell phone, you should always carry it while on the trail. For emergency assistance, call 911. If you have a digitized cell phone, the emergency dispatcher can locate you.
Who do I call if I see a problem with the trail -- like a tree down on the trail or a washed out crossing?
The Park Watch number is 703-PK-WATCH (703-759-2824). You will reach a recording that allows you to determine how you want to direct your call. During working hours, the Park Authority will answer if you select our number, or after hours, your comments will be recorded and forwarded for action when the offices re-open.
How is the trail funded?
Various sources of funding are being used to develop the trail. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors committed $950,000 which has been used in initial development of the trail. A Federal Transportation and Community and System Preservation Grant of $233,842 has also been designated for the trail. Fairfax County Park Authority bond funds of more than three million dollars, approved by voters, have been used for the trail development and stream crossing improvements. Additionally, Federal Transportation grants in excess of one million dollars have been designated for implementation of sections of the trail. Additional funding will be sought through grants and bond programs to continue trail improvements. Much of the trail has been built and will be maintained by volunteers. The assistance of dedicated volunteers has been invaluable.
How can I help with the trail maintenance and building?
Contact one of our trail partner groups listed here. They have adopted sections of the trail and are responsible for oversight and routine maintenance for their individual sections. Re-routings and other trail improvements are also coordinated through these groups, so if you want to help, there are plenty of opportunities.