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Occoquan Greenway, VA Day Hike

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On Monday, April 1, 2019 Steve Butterfield and I hiked the Occoquan Greenway between Lake Ridge Marina and Occoquan, VA. And this is not an April Fools Day joke!

First off I wanted to thank the list of people that made this trail possible. It took a lot of patience, planning and hard work to weave a trail
.gpx track of current OGT
.gpx track of current
OGT. By Neil Nelson
between existing housing developments, roads and other obstacles. But you guys pulled it off and for that I am grateful.

Now, about the length of this trail. I thought I was told that it was about 4 miles. However, by the time that we finished Steve's GPS said 7.8 miles. I'll subtract about .3 miles between the eastern trail head and where I parked my vehicle since one cannot park right at the eastern trailhead. And another .4 miles for us getting lost. That leaves us with a 7 to 7.1 mile hike.

Steve and I met at the Occoquan, VA Visitors Center around 1:00 PM. We had arranged this hike the day before. I was concerned with the late start but was confident that we could pull this hike off before it got too late in the day. We left my vehicle along Poplar LA in Occoquan, then we drove Steve's vehicle to Lake Ridge Park and Marina, which was about 4 or 5 miles away via roads.

The first .25 miles were along the banks of the Occoquan River, then along a small dry creek bed until we got to Hedges Run DR. There were posts with very good signing on them as well as blue blazes along this stretch. However, when
we got to Hedges Run, we could not see the post on the other side of the road since it was down a hill. So we turned left and walked all the way down to the river. We did not see any trail so we walked back to where we saw the last post and started looking around. We finally saw the post showing us the rest of the trail down a hill. As a suggestion, maybe some blazes on the curbs in these residential areas would definitely help as we would run across this issue at least 3 or 4 more times on this trip.

So we did some stream bed hiking for another .5 miles and got to Mohican RD where we turned left and walked for what seemed like a long time. Again, blazes on the curb every 1,000 feet or so would help. Just past Overleigh DR we turned right into the woods and did another .5 miles to what we thought was Antietam DR. But the trail forked just before the road. There were no blazes to be seen. We took the right fork but looked back to see if we made correct dicision after we hit the road. We saw blue blazes going the other way along the way that we didn't take. There were no more trail sign posts after this point.

Here's where it started getting really dicey. We were supposed to take
Lake Ridge Park & Marina
Lake Ridge Marina.
By Mike Calabrese
Antietam to Deepford DR, then left on Deepford across from Antietam Elementary, then right on the power line right of way or ROW. Deepford was not marked on the map. And somehow, we turned left on Cotton Mill DR and got back to within a block of Mohican. Blazes on the curb would have helped here. So we turned left on Willowwood, then right onto Woodfern and we eventually got to the power line right of way a bit further south and turned right. There were no blazes on the power line ROW. Some posts or blazes on the gates or poles would have been helpful. We guessed that we should turn left between the tennis court and the pool, walked along a paved path, then a dirt trail to Oakwood DR.

Just after Oakwood DR we came to a trail interection that had blue blazes going straight and to the left. We guessed that we should go straight. We were wrong. When we got to Forest Hill RD we surmised that we lost the trail again. so we turned left onto Forest Hill and followed it down to Hooes Run, a tributary of the Occoquan River. We found the trail again on the right side of Forest Hill just past the gate and followed it to Old Bridge RD. It was relatively well blazed along this stretch. However, once we took the culvert over Hooes Run and started up the other side of it there were no blazes and no discernable trail. We alternated between the woods and the power line ROW. This area needs some trail work. Once you cross the small tributary to Hooes Run and start acoss the power line ROW the trail goes into the woods. Try and stay on the left side edge of the ROW as opposed to in the woods as the footing is better.

At this point we had hiked over 5 miles and were getting tired. We passed a nice mowed area and a bench. A sincere thank you to someone for that. When we re-entered the woods we again came to a T intersection. I do not remember if there were blazes here or not. We turned right. Again we made a wrong turn. If this trail is to be blue blazed it's entire length, which it should be, then the side trails should all be white blazed or not blazed at all. By going right we ended up in someone's back yard. So we bushwhacked to a dirt road, which became Harbor DR. We walked that for about .25 miles, turned left on Mariner DR, passed an elementary school, turned right onto Clipper DR, then, after about .1 mile, turned left onto an unmarked dirt and gravel RD. We weren't sure if this was the right way or not but took a chance. We were right this time.

After about .2 miles we came to a gated drainage pond which we went around clockwise. We then turned on to what I was told by the lady at the Occoquan town museum was the original Old Bridge RD. It was all downhill for the next .4 miles and the current eastern terminus of the Occoquan Greenway. We did it! We walked the east side shoulder of Union ST back to Poplar LA, which was not bad from a width perspective. But a sidewalk along this stretch of
Hooes Run / PL ROW
Hooes Run / Pwr Line.
By Mike Calabrese
Union ST from the eastern terminus to town would be nice. We walked .3 miles back to my vehicle, drove mine back to Steve's vehicle at Lake Ridge Marina and said our goodbyes. Traffic along Union ST during rush hour is terrible.

Hopefully, I have provided a general description of this hike. It was a fun and challenging hike. It does need some improvements like blazing, signage, some trail work and some trash pickup. The only blowdowns that we encountered were around the 5 mile mark at the beginning of the power line ROW. I enjoyed this hike. But I would rank this one as moderate to difficult and, since it is over 5 miles, I may have to take it off of the list of hikes for the POPUMC hiking Group.

Mike C

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