Segment 9 of the Fairfax Cross County Trail, formerly the CCT and now officially the GCCCT, takes hikers over a variety of surfaces and water crossings on a mostly level, bike and family-friendly portion of the trail. Our beloved Fairfax Cross County Trail was recently renamed the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail, honoring the Congressman who championed creation of the trail during his tenure as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. We applaud the Congressman’s efforts, but GCCCT does not exactly roll off the tongue, so we’ll still refer to it as the Fairfax CCT here. In our north to south hike, segment 9 of the Fairfax CCT begins at Leigh Mill Road and continues to the underpass at the Toll Road on a variety of mostly level surfaces. This segment has some nice wooded sections, a few fun stream crossings, and a level stretch that’s stroller friendly, but it also has a major road crossing at Route 7. It’s 6 miles round-trip, so you might want to break it into two hikes as we describe here and add a visit to Colvin Run Mill.
Leigh Mill Road to Colvin Run on the Fairfax CCT
Park on Leigh Mill Road near Kelso and head up the trail along the edge of the meadow (tick check!), beginning at the CCT trail sign. Once you enter the woods you’re on our favorite part of segment 9—a shady, dirt trail with portions along Difficult Run. You’ll briefly leave the woods to cross over Brian Jac Lane (bear slightly left as you cross the street), but this stretch is generally quiet and away from houses. There is a fair weather crossing over concrete stones that should be passable except after a bad storm. Smell something awful? That means you’re nearing Route 7 / Colvin Run Road and the trail has become the paved access road to the Colvin Run Septic Site. Good thing the access road is short! When you reach the end you can either cross over Route 7 to continue on the CCT, or cross Colvin Run Road and pay a visit to historic Colvin Run Mill. We highly recommend the latter—it’s a beautiful and interesting site and there are bathrooms and parking available.
Colvin Run to the Toll Road on the Fairfax CCT
If you’re continuing on segment 9 from Colvin Run, you can either park at the Mill or in the small lot at the corner of Colvin Run Road and Route 7. Either way you’ll have to cross over busy Route 7 to find the trailhead, so use caution. Once you cross Route 7 the trailhead is to your left at the beginning of Carpers Farm Way. (The trailhead to your right follows Colvin Run to Lake Fairfax). You’ll pass back into the woods on another nice shady, dirt section of the trail. Eventually, the trail flattens and widens as you near Browns Mill Road. Cross Browns Mill Road then walk over the large rocks on a stream crossing that’s fun for kids. This rock crossing was completely flooded after late April rains. The rest of the trail is paved and level until you reach the Toll Road underpass. Families with strollers can walk this stretch by parking near the Toll Road on Days Farm Drive, then following the trail north to Browns Mill. The Toll Road underpass was closed for a long time due to Silver Line Metro construction, and the former eroded rocky trail has been replaced with a level, paved path. It’s a big improvement, but we still find it kind of creepy any time we have to walk under a highway. The extensive graffiti doesn’t help the creep factor.
Overall, segment 9 is an easy, mostly shady portion of the Fairfax Cross County Trail and is family-friendly except for the busy Route 7 crossing. Cover it in two sections with a stop at Colvin Run Mill and you’ll combine nature, exercise and history in a lovely Fun in Fairfax outing.