Occoquan Greenway Trail Recon
On 01/11/2019 I did a reconnaissance trip to scout out the new 4 mile
Occoquan Greenway Trail between
Lake Ridge Park and the town of Occoquan, VA. When you lead hikes you have
to have either hiked the trail that you will be leading a hike on beforehand
or do a
recon of the area beforehand so that you look somewhat like you know what you
are doing during the hike.
a park at the far western side of the town. I asked a maintenance man if he knew where the Occoquan Greenway Trail was. He didn't but suggested that I talk to a lady at the town museum, which was right across the street. So I did. She was busy with another person so I just walked around the small but interesting museum until she asked if I had any questions. I again asked where the Occoquan Greenway Trail was. Again, she wasn't sure.
Since I belonged to the Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition and I knew that the mayor of Occoquan did as well, I asked the lady if I could talk to the mayor about it. So she called him and put Mayor Ernie Porta on the phone. He was very nice and told me all about the Occoquan Greenway Trail Project. He said that the current eastern terminus is along the 400 block of Union ST within the Occoquan town limits. He also said that the quarter mile walk from the eastern terminus to the public parking area in the town of Occoquan, VA was along very narrow and usually busy Union ST and was somewhat unsafe. He said that they planned to build a sidewalk along that area in the future.
So I thanked him for the information and was ready to set off to see the eastern terminus. When I told the lady in the museum where the eastern terminus was she informed me that the old road that the OGT was on at the eastern end was the original Old Bridge RD and that it went to Bacon Race RD further west in Prince William County, VA at one time in the past. I am always amazed at how the roads have changed and evolved in northern Virginia where I live.
So I set off and followed the directions given to me by the mayor and the lady at the museum. When I got to the eastern trailhead I found that they were correct in that the road was very narrow, there was no parking at the eastern terminus and there were no markings showing that it was indeed the eastern terminus of the OGT. Since I could not pull over and there would be vehicles
Now that I had verified where the eastern terminus of the OGT was, it was time to go and find out where the current western terminus was. So I drove westbound on Old Bridge RD for about 3.5 miles until I got to Hedges Run DR. There I turned right. It's interesting in that they have a sign for Lake Ridge Park coming from Woodbridge but not coming from Manassas. Maybe they don't want us 'Manassas People' using their park. Anyway, I turned left on Cotton Mill DR, then right on Cotton Mill DR and I was at the park. One could also take Smoketown RD from Old Bridge, turn left on Griffith RD and it becomes Cotton Mill at some point.
When I got to Lake Ridge Park it was not exactly full of people. Remember, it was a cold January day. I would see the occasional runner, dog walker, or park employee working but no one else. I drove around for awhile. The golf course was closed as were all the buildings within the park. Thank God there was a portapotty there for me to use. I wanted to go to the administrative office to ask about the Occoquan Greenway Trail. I had to park in the main parking lot and walk down a long road to get there. I knocked on the door and a nice gentleman answered. I asked where the western terminus of the OGT was. He said that he didn't know since they were only responsible for trails within the park. He said that there was a trail that went to Hedges Run DR and suggested that I check it out. I said thanks and asked if he had a park map. He said no but then he plucked a copy off of his bulletin board and said that I could use it. That was a nice gesture.
I remember being told by Neil Nelson of PWTSC that the OGT started at the end of the parking lot behind the crew house. So I walked down there and, sure enough, there was a post in the ground that had a small sign indicating that
It is my opinion that this trail will probably be expanded as time goes on. However, there is a lot of private property along the banks of the Occoquan River as well as a number of HOA's that own private parks or swaths of land along the Occoquan. So while I don't think that this trail will ever span the entire lemgth of the Occoquan River in Prince William County, VA, I do think that it will be re-routed and expanded in the future, which is a good thing.
(OGT GPS map obtained from pwtsc.org.)
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