Woods and W&OD: Fairfax CCT Segment 8

A hike on Fairfax CCT segment 8 offers a pretty outing through the Difficult Run Stream Valley, a section of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, and paths in Reston Virginia. This section of the Fairfax Cross County Trail isn’t the most remote, but it does provide some nicely wooded sections and a little history along the way.

Hiking north to south, Fairfax CCT segment 8 begins near the Dulles Toll Road underpass and ends at Lawyers Road in Reston and is 4 miles long. Park at either end of the hike, on Days Farm Drive or Lawyers Road, for an 8-mile out-and-back hike.

The 4-mile segment is also easy to break into roughly even, two-mile hikes. Park in the small parking area at the corner of Hunter Mill and Hunter Station Roads to hike out and back in each direction. Use this Fairfax Park Authority map to see the full route.

Fairfax CCT Segment 8 Details: Toll Road to Hunter Mill Road

Park on Days Farm Drive, on the north side of the toll road, or at the end of Brittenford or Squaw Valley Drive on the south side. If you begin on the north side of the toll road, you’ll have to navigate a muddy section then walk through an underpass. Graffiti makes the underpass a little creepy, but we’ve never encountered any people here.

For the next mile-and-a-half, you’ll be hiking on a dirt path through shady Difficult Run Stream Valley Park.

Even though the trail passes near houses in a couple of spots, this section generally feels remote and quiet. There are a couple of short, steep hills and easy stream crossings to add a little variety to your walk. Remember that the CCT is also popular with bikers, so stay alert.

When you come to the open field at Tamarack Park you have almost reached the W&OD; continue until you see the trail sign, then bear right up the hill and onto the bike path. Either follow the paved bike trail, or the parallel stonedust bridle trail, another quarter mile to Hunter Mill Road.

Now time for some history! The intersection of Hunter Mill Road and the W&OD includes several historic markers, researched and championed by the Hunter Mill Defense League, describing important Civil War events.

CCT Segment 8: Hunter Mill Road to Lawyers Road

After you soak up some history(and maybe use the pit toilet) cross Hunter Mill Road and continue on the bridle trail along the W&OD. The trail is more open, more hilly, and closer to houses here so can get warm. In about half a mile you’ll hike up a steep hill and cross Buckthorn Road. Watch for the neighborhood access path in just a bit because that’s where you turn left and head back into the woods. Be careful crossing back over the bike trail—bikes often come flying down the hill.

Happily, you’re back in the woods on the Twin Branches Trail following Snakeden Branch, one of the streams that feeds into Difficult Run. This path was heavily damaged by previous flooding but is a nice section except after heavy rain. The CCT path crosses a couple of bridges and a small dam before reaching Twin Branches Road. Cross the road and reenter on the trail to your left.

The remainder of the CCT hike to Lawyers Road is paved and follows the restored Glade Stream Valley. This is a nice shady section, usually comfortable on a summer morning. When you reach Lawyers Road you’re at the end of CCT segment 8.

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