The Gerry Connolly 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 stone dust 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Occoquan Regional Park
- The Laurel Hill parks will all be connected to the trail as they are developed
- Two recreation centers -- one at Wakefield Park (Audrey Moore RECenter) and the other in Oak Marr Park
- Lake Accotink Park
- Athletic fields at Laurel Hill, Byron Avenue Park, Wakefield Park, Eakin Community Park, Thaiss Park (the City of Fairfax), and Oak Marr Park
- Open play area at Tamarack Park
- Picnic areas at Great Falls Park, Eakin Community Park, Wakefield Park, and Lake Accotink Park
- W&OD and Reston trails
- Colvin Run Mill Park -- an early 19th-century operating water wheel and gristmill
- Great Falls National Park
- South Run RECenter and Burke Lake Park can be reached via the South Run Stream Valley Trail from Pohick Road
- Both Franconia Springfield and Vienna Metro stations are accessible from side trail connections to the CCT
- Nottoway Park is accessible from the W&OD/City of Fairfax Connector trail
- Lake Fairfax Park and the Water Mine Swimming Hole lie along the Rails to River Trail via a connection just south of Route 7
- Clarks Crossing Park with athletic fields and trails is a short distance east on the W&OD from Tamarack Park
- Riverbend Park can be reached from the northern end of the trail by following the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail through Great Falls Park
- Drinking water, restrooms, and food are available at Occoquan Regional Park, Lake Accotink Park, Wakefield Park, and Oak Marr Park
- Drinking water and restrooms are located at Colvin Run Mill Park and Great Falls National Park
- Portable restrooms are available seasonally at Byron Avenue Park, Eakin Community Park and Thaiss Park
- Share the trail -- respect others
- Maintain proper control of bicycles at all times
- Faster users pass on the left
- Announce your passing -- "passing on your left."
- Stay on existing trails
- Stay off single-tracks when raining or muddy. Traffic on wet trail causes damage.
- Do not disturb vegetation or wildlife
- Dogs must be leashed at all times
- Trails and park closed at dark
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).
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.
Starting at the southern end of the trail:
- One mile along the entrance road into Occoquan Regional Park is an asphalt trail
- Approximately 1 ½ miles of trail between Silverbrook Road to Creekside View Lane is an eight foot wide asphalt trail with several steep slopes, then a sidewalk and roadside trail to the footpath down to the trail along Pohick Creek
- One mile in Section 1 along Pohick Creek is paved from near mile marker 34 to the Fairfax County Parkway.
- Approximately 2 ½ miles of the trail is paved along the Parkway and all the way to Old Keene Mill Road --The trail then uses a sidewalk along Old Keene Mill Road and Byron Avenue into Byron Avenue Park
- Approximately four miles of paved trail runs from the north end of Wakefield Park (Americana Park) to Thaiss Park in the City of Fairfax. From Wakefield to King Arthur the trail is either eight foot wide asphalt or 10 foot wide concrete. Beyond that point to Thaiss Park, the trail is mostly six to eight foot asphalt, but there are a few sections of stonedust.
- All 3.2 miles of section 6 of the trail are paved -- most is sidewalk along roads, the final quarter mile in Oak Marr Park is an asphalt trail
- Approximately 750 feet of trail follows Vale Road, using the old road alignment which is now an asphalt trail.
- Approximately half a mile of trail that runs from Lawyers Road to Twin Branches Road is asphalt
- The three quarter mile section of trail that uses the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Trail (W&OD) is a dual surface trail -- asphalt with a parallel stonedust trail
- Approximately ½ mile of trail from the Dulles Access and Toll Road to Browns Mill Road is asphalt
Starting at the southern end of the trail:
- Lorton Road crosswalk (to be added)
- Furnace Road underpass (historic barrel bridge)
- Silverbrook Road crosswalk (to be added)
- Paper Birch Drive crosswalk (to be added)
- Laurel Crest Drive crosswalk (to be added)
- Bluebonnet Drive crosswalk (to be added)
- Pohick Road crosswalk (spring 2006)
- Fairfax County Parkway pedestrian signal
- Rolling Road pedestrian signals
- Hunter Village Drive crosswalk
- Old Keene Mill Road pedestrian signal
- Braddock Road underpass
- Little River Turnpike (Rte. 236) underpass
- King Arthur Road underpass
- Woodburn Road crosswalk
- Prosperity Road crosswalk
- Barkley Road crosswalk
- Pickett Road underpass (or don't cross)
- Arlington Blvd (Rte. 50) pedestrian signal
- Lee Highway (Rte. 29) pedestrian signal
- Depending on which side of the road you travel along Blake Lane, you will cross different streets, but all either have a pedestrian signal or crosswalk and fairly light traffic
- Five Oak Road pedestrian signal
- Route 66 overpass
- Chain Bridge Road (Rte. 123) pedestrian signal
- Miller Heights Road crosswalk
- Vale Road crosswalk
- Lawyers Road crosswalk
- Glade Drive not marked
- Twin Branches Road crosswalk
- Buckthorn Lane crosswalk
- Hunter Mill Road crosswalk
- Dulles Access and Toll Road underpass
- Browns Mill Road crosswalk
- Leesburg Pike (Rte. 7) traffic signal
- Brian Jan Lane dead street/cul-de-sac, not marked
- Leigh Mill Road crosswalk
- Old Dominion Drive underpass
- Georgetown Pike underpass
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.
- Accotink Stream Valley trail between Pickett Road and Wakefield Park is flat, mostly paved and all stream crossings are bridges. There are a number of road crossings that are marked with crosswalks.
- Lake Accotink Park trail between Braddock Road and the marina is fairly level, stonedust surface, with bridges at stream crossings. There is the added bonus of the fun activities at the marina, including rental canoes and paddle boats, tour boat rides, a carousel, and miniature golf.
- Difficult Stream Valley trail between Miller Heights Road and the right-ofway extended of Miller Road is stonedust surface, gently rolling with lovely views of the stream valley.
- Pohick Stream Valley trail just south of the Fairfax County Parkway is paved, but has some steeper slopes and fair-weather crossings. It is more appropriate for older children, and is a wonderful stream valley experience.
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.
The trail has been divided into ten sections (plus an additional section for the Laurel Hill Greenway - LHG) for purposes of mapping. There are separate maps for the trail within Lake Accotink Park and within Wakefield Park.
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.
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.
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.
The Park Maintenance number is 703-324-8594. Please call during regular business hours Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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.
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.
- Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) www.more-mtb.org
- Fairfax Trails and Streams (FTAS) www.fairfaxtrails.org
- Great Falls Trails Blazers (GFTB) www.greatfallstrailblazers.org
- Hunters Valley Riding Club (HVRC) 703-620-4689
- Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) www.waba.org
- Trails for Youth -- www.trailsforyouth.org
- Clifton Horse Society -- www.cliftonhorsesociety.org