Saturday, February 5, 2011

W&OD Trail conditions

The W&OD Trail is a critical transportation link for N. Virginia cyclists and we're excited that NVRPA plans to start plowing when there's an accumulation of snow. The latest snowfall has persisted on the Trail for a while. We wanted to see if it was passable between Reston and Vienna, so we rode today from around Sunrise Valley Dr in Reston to downtown Vienna.

NVRPA uses a truck to conduct maintenance along the trail, and the ruts of that truck are now mostly clear of snow. It's a real test of your cycling abilities to keep within the sometimes narrow track. We were able to ride about 95% of the way. We occasionally stopped to walk along the short icy sections. The west side of the hill near Buckthorn Lane is a little icy but its passable. The trip took a little longer than normal, but the trail is definitely rideable, although passing other Trail users is a challenge so you'll need to slow or stop to get by.

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Great idea to try the trail. How many "cross country" skiers did you see? Do you know how soon after the snowfall they will start plowing?
I've never seen a cross country skier on the Trail but I'm sure there are a few out there. Personally I think the Trail should be plowed right after a snowfall. Cross Country skiers and others who want to use the snow can use the other W&OD Trail, the gravel sidepath. Granted there are spots where it crosses streams, but there are ways to get around. Most cross country skiers I know have better places to ski than the Trail.

As far as I know the Park Authority (NVRPA) doesn't have a set policy on how long after a snowfall they will plow. I'm hoping that in the more urban areas it will be soon afterwards. The plow hasn't arrived yet and I'm sure it will take a while to figure out the best procedures for using.

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