Holmes Run Trail in Northern Virginia Recon
Before traveling to the Holmes Run Trail I first did some internet research on this trail. According to wikipedia.org the eastern half of the trail was built in the 1980's while the western half was completed in 2007. This trail is a mixture of asphalt and gravel base.
After doing additional research I discovered that, according to the website alexandriava.gov, there are two major closures on this trail due to severe flooding in 2018 and 2019. These closures were so severe that the city of Alexandria, VA had to budget money over multiple years to fix the damage to the Holmes Run Trail. It will cost over twelve million dollars and take until at least 2023 to fix this issue. The problem areas are at mile 1.7 (if starting at the western terminus and utilizing Google Maps) at Morgan ST and at mile 3.4 at the Holmes Run Playground. There are detours available along adjacent city streets in the interim. You can see images of the damage as well as detour maps Here.
Julie Rominger and I drove to the area of the western terminus of the Holmes Run Trail on Sunday, January 3, 2021. The weather was terrible. There was a cold rain and it was windy. We had a tough time initially finding a place to park near the trailhead. After driving back and forth on Columbia Pike a few times we discovered that there was a cul-de-sac just south of the trailhead that could hold 3 or 4 vehicles. I parked there, walked over a pedestrian bridge to the trailhead, took some images and observed that there was a narrow road that ended at the trailhead and proceeded north for about 250 feet parallel to Columbia Pike, then turned left to intersect Columbia Pike. This narrow road probably would hold 10 to 12 vehicles. I've placed some Google Maps below with circles drawn where trailhead parking exists. Since the weather was nasty at the time I walked back to our vehicle and we then drove home.
The next day I did some more research online regarding this trail. I called the William Ramsay Rec. Center and spoke to a very nice lady named Barbara. I asked if people could park in their parking lot while they hiked the Holmes Run Trail. She said that they could park in the lot that serves William Ramsay Elementary School and the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Center. I next asked if there was a side trail that went to the Holmes Run Trail from their facility. She answered that there was a side trail that went from the nature center to the trail.
OK, as far as whether this is a good hike for the POPUMC Hiking Group the answer is yes and no. If we didn't have COVID-19 right now we could shuttle some vehicles to Cameron Run Regional Park, drive back to the western terminus and then hike the entire five miles. But we can't shuttle vehicles right now because of COVID-19. We could do a 1.7 mile hike from the western terminus to the Dora Kelley Nature Center, then turn around and do 1.7 miles back to the western terminus for a total of 3.4 miles. But a number of hikers (myself included) don't really like up and back hikes. And the detours on this hike take you out to residential streets and greatly diminish the nature experience.
This hike is not scheduled for the POPUMC Hiking Group until September, 2023. If COVID-19 goes away by then AND if the repairs on this trail are done by that time, then I think that we could do the 5 mile linear trail with car shuttles. If neither of the above conditions change between now and then we could always do the up and back option. Or we could just kick this hike down the schedule and see what happens. I would like to hike this trail in some form so we'll revisit this situation at the end of 2022.
Parking near eastern trailhead.
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