Catharpin Greenway, Haymarket, VA Recon
First a bit of background. I was somewhat familiar with this proposed trail from an older Catharpin Greenway Trail Map (see below). However, when I attended a Zoom meeting of the Greater Prince William Trails Coalition in late November, 2020, there was a link provided during the meeting to an updated map for the Catharpin Greenway (see below). On this map I noticed that the Little Bull Run Spur Trail had been rerouted. This piqued my interest. So I decided to find out more about this proposed Little Bull Run Spur Trail.
Catharpin Creek and Little Bull Run have their sources less than a mile from each other between Hopewell RD and Bull Run Mountain RD in the Antioch area of Prince William County, VA. Both flow in a southeasternly direction for about five miles. Then, just north of Conway Robinson State Forest, Little Bull Run turns to the northeast and merges with Catharpin Creek just before it crosses Artemus RD near Pageland LA. The resulting Little Bull Run flows another two miles northeast and then empties into Bull Run within the Sudley Springs area just north of the intersection of VA 234 Sudley RD and Featherbed LA.
The first thing I did was drive to Catharpin RD near Haymarket, VA. There was a nice asphalt trail along Catharpin RD for the Little Bull Run Spur Trail. A recently built bridge for this trail went over Little Bull Run. I did not see any trail coming from the creek itself up to Catharpin RD. So this section had not been built yet. I drove further on Catharpin RD and this parallel asphalt Little Bull Run Spur Trail and right before it crossed over Catharpin Creek I saw another asphalt trail heading away from Catharpin RD and along Catharpin Creek. I didn't hike this stretch of trail but I took an image of it.
So I consulted Google Maps and determined that Catharpin Creek crossed Lightner RD further to the north. So I drove there. There was no trail crossing here. So I assumed that the trail that I saw back on Catharpin RD followed Catharpin Creek for the length of the adjacent development and then went into that development. So there was a break in the Catharpin Creek Trail at that point.
I then drove further north to Old Carolina RD. There was a bridge for vehicles over Little Bull Run but I could see no evidence of a trail along this section of the creek. Google Maps showed a trail just past Little Bull Run and Old Carolina RD. But the road to it was fenced and gated. So I could not check out that trail.
Finally, I drove over to Silver Lake Regional Park. On the way I could see no evidence of a trail along Little Bull Run on either side of US15. When I got to Silver Lake Regional Park. I walked around the fenced off, flooded quarry at this park. There was a mowed trail that started at the northeast corner of this quarry. I assume that this was the beginning of the Little Bull Run Spur Trail. However, there were no signs, no blazes, no kiosks, no information just like on most Prince William County trails. So I walked in a short distance and took some images. It was a cold an blustry day so I didn't want to spend a lot of time on the trail. So I then went home.
Once home I again consulted Google Maps satellite view. It showed a trail starting at the quarry and going along Little Bull Run. It was far from the stream (probably to avoid being flooded). This trail went for a short distance adjacent to a development, then turned into that development. This short section of trail was probably built as part of a proffer by the builder of the development.
In conclusion the Catharpin Greenway along with the Little Bull Run Spur Trail is far from complete. I have drawn on a Google Map below to show the sections that are completed. It looks like the Little Bull Run Spur Trail will be about 4.5 miles while the Catharpin Greenway, when completed, will be about 7 miles. The loop formed by the Catharpin Greenway and the Little Bull Run Spur Trail will probably come in at around 9.5 miles.
Now the big question is: Why did they not run the Little Bull Run Trail all the way to Conway Robinson State Forest? My guess is that the Heritage Hunt Development did not want the trail going through their property. A number of developments in this area are gated. They do this for the safety of the home owners as well as to keep riff-raff like me out of their area. It is my opinion that Prince William County will encounter similar issues on the Catharpin Greenway as well as some of the other streambed trail projects that they have. It's sad but it is the right of the landowner to say no to public trails on their property. Anyway, this was a fun and educational recon and I hope to hike the completed sections some day.
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