Dominion Trail Mix Honors the W&OD with Festival, Cleanup
Community service project, entertainment and celebration, all at one event.
Right in Ashburn’s back yard sits a gem of a resource that that stretches 45 miles across Northern Virginia.
The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park runs from Purcellville through Ashburn, down through Vienna, and ends in Arlington, making it the longest park in Virginia. It is also, incidentally, the skinniest park, measuring only 100 feet wide.
The trail used to be an intrastate short-line railroad – the trail’s namesake – that ran for more than a century from 1859 to 1968. The men who founded the railroad dreamed of shipping coal and other supplies from the Appalachian Mountains to the Port of Alexandria, according to information on the Friends of the W&OD website. During the Civil War, the railroad was almost destroyed, but was slowly rebuilt after the war ended. In the years that followed, the W&OD provided rail service from Alexandria to Purcellville. When train service ended in 1968, the Virginia Electric and Power Company (now Dominion Virginia Power) bought the right of way with the intent of preserving a future route for power lines its. Eventually the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) bought the right-of- way in stages, and turned it into the park used by Northern Virginians every day.
How do you honor such a vast natural resource that’s survived a war and the test of time? The best way possible, of course: a large community celebration and cleanup.
The Greater Washington Sports Alliance joined forces with the NVRPA and Dominion to host the first annual Dominion Trail Mix event Saturday, Sept. 3. The family themed event will celebrate the trail with the largest community service project in the trails history, along with a festival celebrating the community and active lifestyles.
Chris Browne, Vice President of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance said Labor Day weekend was chosen so families could have a local activity.
“Labor Day isn’t what it used to be,” he said. “People used to head out for one last beach trip. But now, families are staying around because school is back in session. We wanted to have a local option for families to have fun and do something great.”
According to organizers, about two million people use the trail every year. They hope the free event will give people a chance to give back to the trail.
There are three ways to participate on Sept. 3:
- Hail the Trail (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.)
The largest cleanup in the history of the W&OD trail. Participants will pick up trash, plant, weed, and paint benches and picnic tables, among other beautification activities at 10 different locations along the trail. As a nod to the trail’s former life as a railroad, each of the 10 stops will have a conductor and engineer to get groups going. You can register as an individual or as a group. Each participant gets a free T-shirt.
- The Great Skedaddle (11 a.m. to noon)
An event where participants can run, walk or bike the trail while commemorating the historic retreat of the Union troops after its defeat at the first Battle of Bull Run. Runners and walkers can participate in a 5K (3.1 mile) walk/run, while bikers can take 5- or 10-mile rides. Browne said it’s a great family event for any fitness level. Registration for the 5K walk/run or the 5-mile bike ride costs $20, while $25.00 covers entrants in the 10-mile bike ride. The untimed, non-competitive event begins and ends at Farmwell Station Middle School. Participants can register up until the day of the race.
- Trailfest (noon to 5 p.m.)
The day’s activities culminate at Farmwell Station Middle School, 44281 Gloucester Parkway, for a community festival with food, activities and live entertainment by country group Gloriana and local rock band the A+ Dropouts. Trailfest is free and open to the public.
All proceeds from Trailfest go toward Nature Nuts an educational program established by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. The program has set a goal to get over 500,000 children outdoors and enhance their outdoor experience.
For more information on the Dominion Trailfest or to register for any of the activities, visit the website here.
Check back to learn more about our Trail Mix contests.