Long-Awaited 38-mile Cross County Trail To Open Dec. 17

The Fairfax County Park Authority has issued the following news release:

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County Park Authority Board will cut the ribbon at the Cross County Trail (CCT) on Saturday December 17, 2005, marking the official opening of this 38-mile trail which runs the length of the County, providing a continuous link from the Occoquan River in the south to the Potomac River in the north.

"This is a momentous occasion for Fairfax County," said Park Authority Director Michael A. Kane, adding, "The Cross County Trail is all about connections.  The CCT is so much more than just a trail.  This is common ground that provides a pathway of connectivity for all residents."

The CCT runs through some of the county's most scenic areas.  Here, joggers, hikers, equestrians and cyclists can discover a natural wonderland often only yards away from the urban environment. Much of the green space and the stream valley parks along the trail were wrested away from development over the past decades.  Property was purchased, proferred and donated along the way.

The concept became a quest when hiking enthusiast Bill Niedringhaus presented the idea to the Park Authority in 1995.  Niedringhaus obtained a large map of the county and highlighted all of the public land green.  It was then he saw a continuous green line snaking from the north to the south across the County with three or four gaps.  He formed a group called Fairfax Trails and Streams, lobbied at bond hearings and enlisted the assistance of Gerry Connolly, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

"I realized that Fairfax County had a jewel in its midst," Connolly said. "Why not work to connect these existing parcels of land, acquire and obtain needed pieces of property and easements to make one long trail?"  The very next day he introduced a resolution to create the Cross County Trail.  The county's entire board supported it, providing additional resources and obtaining federal support.

The trail began to become a reality due in large measure to the efforts of numerous volunteer groups who provide free labor on a regular basis, as well as Trail Coordinator Jenny Pate who has walked every inch of the trail. "People need to realize that this trail is never going to be done.  It'll be evolving.  As long as people are using it, we'll still be working on it," she said.

Ceremonies are slated for 10 a.m. at the Accotink Stream Valley portion of the trail.  Join in the celebration at the new bridge near the Camelot Swim Club overflow parking lot. Light refreshments will be served.  Take the Beltway to Route 236 west and turn right onto King Arthur Road. Next, turn right onto Camelot Drive.  Camelot Swim Club is located off Camelot Drive near the intersection with Saxony Drive in Annandale. For more information call 703-324-8726 or the Public Information Office.

By  |  December 6, 2005; 1:39 PM ET  | Category:  Parks and Recreation
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