Beaverdam Reservoir Looks Trashed
Fairfax City's man-made lake in Ashburn could stand a good clean-up
Beaverdam Creek Reservoir sits nestled between Evergreen Mills Road and Belmont Ridge Road. But while the site boasts hiking trails for those wishing to explore its nature, the view currently leaves something to be desired.
The 350-acre man-made lake is owned by the City of Fairfax, housing a backup water supply from which they can replenish their primary reservoir on Goose Creek in Leesburg.
As a semi-avid hiker always desirous of new places to walk in the woods but unable of late to travel to the mountains, I was recently lured to the reservoir after seeing it mentioned on numerous sites as a suitable place to hike. From the eastern access point off Mt. Hope Road—tucked behind the Mt. Hope Baptist Church—a trail stretches one mile to the south and 1.3 miles to the north.
The trail, which in some older posts on singletracks.com is described as a moderately strenuous and appealing trip through the woods for bikers and hikers alike, puportedly leads to the dam.
In addition, the reservoir is also mentioned on many fishing sites. I am not a fisherman, so I leave such analysis to the Ashburn Outdoorsman columnist Sean Farrell, but I've heard the reservoir mentioned favorably for those who enjoy bass fishing. While there isn't direct vehicle access, small boats and kayaks are allowed on the water.
Despite the Web recommendations, unfortunately, Beaverdam Creek Reservoir is a mess.
Venturing there from the western access point on Reservoir Road, which is off Evergreen Mills, my first taste of the place found me surrounded by trash, broken beer bottles and discarded prophylactics. I took a quick journey to the water's edge and took some photos, but frankly was too grossed out by what I'd seen on the shore to linger.
The next time out I wanted to hike, so I drove into the eastern parking lot and immediately proceeded up the trail—a trail not merely imagined but marked and signed—towards the dam. Before heading up, though, I took a picture of a trash can overflowing with garbage and made note of the rather ample debris lying near the shore.
Going farther up the trail, I was disappointed to find dumping areas and trash sites at frequent intervals, many of them full of faded beer cans indicating they'd been there a long time. Several abandoned heaps looked like makeshift campsites. Even worse, the trail turned out to be completely impassable. Trees, obviously uprooted by 2010's epic snow storms, blocked the path and made venturing as far as the dam a complete impossibility.
Beaverdam Creek Reservoir was created for a specific municipal purpose. I don't know that the City of Fairfax should necessarily allow it to be used or not, but I wonder about the public health implications of such a site. It is offered up as a potential area for recreation, but it doesn't seem anybody is maintaining it as such.
That potentially creates safety and public health concerns, since the City of Fairfax and many eastern Loudoun residents get their water from a reservoir surrounded by garbage. The indications that some individuals may be camping in the woods, as well, could indicate hazards for lone hikers and others using the lake for recreation.
In the past, Loudoun County has battled with Fairfax City about whether zoning policies were being violated on the property.
I have heard reports the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has indicated it may take control of the property. I think they should. The property would make an excellent park and the Park Authority has the resources to maintain it.
The City of Fairfax, I expect, hardly has the money or inclination to support a recreational area miles to its west that residents will likely not visit. I do harbor sincere hopes, though, that when spring rolls around the trails will be clear, the trash cans empty and the property suitable for an enjoyable hike along its banks.