FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Katie Test, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
D.C. Area Trail Receives National Recognition
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Names Washington and Old Dominion Trail to Hall of Fame
Washington, D.C.—Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has named the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park (W&OD) as the eighth inductee to the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. The D.C.-area trail is featured in Rails to Trails magazine and on RTC's Web site, complete with photos and a detailed ride-along description of its scenic views and important community connections.
The 45-mile W&OD trail is a premier metropolitan-area rail-trail and an important commuter trail for those who live, work and play in suburban northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. One of the region's most popular rail-trails, the W&OD regularly clocks hundreds of commuter users per day, and the pathway connects to four stops on the Washington Metro's Orange Line.
"The trail estimates about 2 million users per year, so it's obviously pretty popular," says Karl Mohle, park manager for the W&OD trail. "On weekends here in the prime season, you can see anybody out on the trail. You have family groups that come out on a picnic ride, the [inline skaters], walkers, joggers and couples going out onto the trail."
The W&OD is a multi-use path shared by bicyclists, walkers, joggers, fishers, cross-country skiers and equestrians (on a 32-mile side path between Vienna and Purcellville). The rail-trail serves as a great link—and a historical one at that—between rural Virginia and that nation's capital. The Washington & Old Dominion Railroad was built on the eve of the Civil War in 1858. At times both a passenger line and a freight line, the railroad helped shape Virginia's settlement. "The railroad was the main street during the growth of northern Virginia," says Paul McCray, director of operations for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA).
Rail service on the line ended in 1968, but by 1982 the NVRPA had purchased the corridor and continues to own and maintain the trail today. "The trail, we feel," says McCray, "is one of the most significant rail-trails in the country, because it serves so many people within walking, cycling or driving distance."
RTC's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame was established in 2007 to honor outstanding rail-trails. There are currently 1,500 open rail-trails, and approximately 750 more in development. Hall of Fame inductees are selected based on merits such as scenic value, high use, trail and trailside amenities, historical significance, excellence in management and maintenance of facility, community connections and geographic distribution.
Past trails that have received the designation include the Bizz Johnson Trail in California, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin, the Illinois Prairie Path in Illinois, the Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts, the Burke-Gilman Trail in Washington, the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri, the Pinellas Trail in Florida, and the Great Allegheny Passage in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
For a complete list of the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame designations and stories, visit RTC's Web site at www.railstotrails.org
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 100,000 members, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information visit www.railstotrails.org.