Hikers enjoy a variety of woodland trails, paved and dirt surfaces, and water crossings on the mostly level, bike, and family-friendly Fairfax CCT Segment 9. This section of the CCT is about 3 miles long (one way), and is easy to break into shorter out-and-back hikes. Most of the trail is close to Difficult Run, which means sections will be muddy or flooded after rain.
In our north to south hike, Fairfax CCT segment 9 begins at Leigh Mill Road in Great Falls and continues to a Dulles Toll Road underpass in Vienna. This segment has some nice wooded sections, a few fun stream crossings, and a level stretch that's stroller friendly. It also has a major road crossing at a streetlight on Route 7 close to historic Colvin Run Mill. The total hike is 6 miles round-trip, but you can easily break it into two hikes as we describe below, with the mill as a breakpoint
The Fairfax Cross County Trail, aka the CCT or the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail, connects stream valleys and parkland on a 40-mile journey from the Potomac River to the Occoquan. Learn more about the trail in our guide: 5 Tips for Hiking the Cross County Trail.
Leigh Mill Road to Colvin Run on Fairfax CCT Segment 9
Park by the trail crossing on Leigh Mill Road near the intersection with Kelso Road. 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. The trail skirts the edge of a neighborhood at Brian Jac Lane, but this stretch is generally quiet and away from houses.
There is a fair-weather crossing over concrete stones that is passable except after heavy storms. As you near Route 7 and Colvin Run Road, the trail merges onto the paved access road to the Colvin Run Septic Site (that horrible smell you may be experiencing). Fortunately, the access road is short! At the end of the road, you have reached our breakpoint.
Cross Route 7 to Carpers Farm Way and 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 Dulles Toll Road on CCT Segment 9
To continue 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. From either lot, you'll cross busy Route 7 at the light. 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 Park).
The trail now reenters 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. One year, this rock crossing was completely flooded after April rains.
The rest of the trail is paved and level until you reach the Toll Road underpass. Watch for the trail to turn right onto a dirt path as you get close to the Toll Road. This stretch is a good option for families with strollers. Just park near the Toll Road on Days Farm Drive, then follow the paved 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. Unfortunately, you may still encounter a very muddy section of trail just before the underpass.
Overall, Fairfax CCT segment 9 is an easy, mostly shady portion of the Cross County Trail that is family-friendly. Cover it in two sections with a stop at Colvin Run Mill to combine nature, exercise, and a little local history. Here is a county map of segment 9.
Find more great hikes with our complete guide: Northern Virginia Hikes and Favorite Bike Trails Near DC.
This article was published in 2014 and updated in 2020.