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South Run Trail / Lake Mercer, VA Day Hike

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This 4.5 mile "lollipop loop" hike occurred on Saturday, January 4, 2020. Participants were Tom O'Brien, Suzanne and Steve Butterfield as well as their dog named Finn.

The number of people on this hike wasn't as high as the last one. And the weather wasn't as great as on the last hike either. But the four of us and a dog set out to do the South Run Trail / Mercer Lake Loop in Fairfax County, VA. As usual, we left POPUMC precisely at 8:00 AM and made it to the South Run REC Center between Springfield and Lorton at around 8:45 AM. We used the facilities at the REC center, then started this hike. It was an unusually warm day for January and there would be a very small amount of intermittant precipitation as we hiked. Temperatures started in the 50's and climbed to 61 by the end of the hike.

We first passed a dog obedience class in progress. Then we took a picture at the trailhead kiosk. I last hiked this trail about 5 years ago and was surprised that the majority of this trail was now on asphalt, which was fine since it had rained about 2 inches in the last 24 hours. We would pass and be passed by many runners, hikers and cyclists on this trip. The trail had some signs but but could have been better marked or blazed. We took a wrong turn early in the hike and weren't aware of this until I checked the hikingproject.com app. We then had to turn around, go back and add about .2 miles to the hike. This app makes it almost impossible to get lost on a hike.

You may be thinking "What is a lollipop loop trail?" If you look at the map image to the right you will see that the first and last few tenths of a mile of this hike go and return on the same trail. This is the handle of the lollipop. The actual loop around Lake Mercer is round (at least sort of) like most lollipops. Hence, the name "lollipop loop".

The southern part of the loop had a lot more ups and downs. As usual, I was lagging behind on this stretch. But these ups were short lived and we soon found ourselves walking over the spillway for this dam and then the dam itself. We could hear and see the traffic from Hooes Road from the dam. At end of the dam we reached the half way point of this hike at around 2.2 miles.

We then passed behind some nice townhouses that looked out at the lake. The expensive houses were on the south side of the lake and the townhouses were on the north side. These residents are very lucky to have this trail and lake available right out their back door.

The next 2 or 3 tenths of a mile would be along a gravel service road of some sort. This was our first time not walking on asphalt. The north side of the lake was very level and a pleasure to hike on. We eventually returned to the trail that we hiked in on (the handle of the lollipop), hiked the final .2 miles back to the REC Center, our vehicles and the end of the hike. Steve and Suzanne checked out the Go Ape Zip Line Adventure and plan to take a ride there when it opens in a few months. We said our goodbyes, visited the facilities at the REC Center again and then drove back to the church.

This was a good hike. The length was just right as far as I was concerned. There were some ups but they were short and you could feel them, but you didn't really mind them. With the exception of a few sprinkles while going over the dam the rain held off. Finn the chocolate lab did very well on this hike. She sniffed out at least a dozen dogs on this hike. Tom, Suzanne and Steve were great hiking partners and I look forward to sharing a trail again with them in the future. If you want a nice hike to do on a weekend or weekday, this is it.

Mike C

More Images

South Run Trail Map


Group pic before the hike
  Group pic before the hike.
   By Mike Calabrese

Winter view of South Run, VA   Winter view of South Run, VA.
   By Mike Calabrese

Map of where we hiked   Map of where we hiked.
  By hikingproject.com

Evidence of beaver activity
  Evidence of beaver activity.
  By Mike Calabrese

The rules
  The rules.
  By Mike Calabrese






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