Prince William County is doing its part to complete the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, and recently completed a new 1.3-mile section of the trail that connects the Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge to Veteran’s Memorial Park, one of the County’s busiest parks.
The heritage trail, when completed, will run 710 miles along the Potomac River, its wetlands, and environs, through Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
“The heritage trail goes from Pittsburgh to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. It is one of the major trails in the United States,” said David Brickley, the chairman of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail’s Committee of the Prince William Trails and Blue Ways Council. “Every section that we can get completed in Prince William will add to the user experience of our neighbor's next door or hikers and cyclists from around the world.”
During the worst of the COVID pandemic, people became intensely interested in outdoor recreation to include trails and greenways. “All of our local, state, and national surveys have shown that people want trails and greenways as much as any other recreational facility that’s offered,” said Brickley, a long-term advocate for trails and greenways in the area. “These surveys are reaffirmed year after year. The demand is overwhelming.”
The completion of the $540,000 section of crushed-stone trail, that runs along Dawson Beach Road, added to the existing 13 miles of trails in Woodbridge Magisterial District. “The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail is a national trail, so folks come from throughout the County and the area to hike it or bike it. What we’re doing is offering more opportunities for outdoor recreation,” said Brendon Hanafin, Prince William County Parks, recreation and tourism’s Assistant Director for Planning & Capital Projects.
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail will compare to other national trails when it is completed. “This will be one of the finest trails and greenway systems when it’s finished. All of our citizens should take great pride in how it is progressing in Prince William County and in the ability for all of us and our families to enjoy the trail,” Brickley said.
Parts of the heritage trail run along sections of County roads. When this trail is finished, it will run from the Occoquan River to Locust Shade Park at the Prince William County line with Stafford County. “Our next major project is the Powell’s Creek crossing, which will either include a boardwalk or a bridge that connects Leesylvania State Park to Potomac Shores. That will certainly take several years before it’s completed,” Brickley said.
According to Brickley, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors has supported trail construction in the County. “Prince William County is doing very well. The current board of supervisors has been extremely helpful and it’s a major benefit to the County and the state as well.”