Long holiday weekends are always a great opportunity to venture outside of the city and go for a bike ride in one of the many nearby state, regional, or county parks and recreation areas. And on this early-morning, holiday weekend ride I rode the bike trail that goes around the lake at Lake Accotink Park, which is a multi-purpose park located at 7500 Accotink Park Road (MAP), just outside of D.C. in North Springfield, Virginia.
Lake Accotink is a reservoir in eastern Fairfax County, Virginia, which is formed by the damming of Accotink Creek. The 55-acre park surrounding the lake is maintained by the Fairfax County Park Authority. But the park was severely damaged not too long ago by flooding in the area. And although evidence of the damage can still be seen, the trails are usable again.
Running through the park is a trestle bridge for the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, which was an intrastate railroad in Virginia. The railroad extended from Alexandria to Gordonsville, with another section from Charlottesville to Lynchburg. The railroad played a crucial role in the Civil War, and eventually became an important part of the modern-day Norfolk Southern rail system.
A sign near the bridge reads, “The original bridge crossing the Accotink Creek was built in 1851 as part of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. During the Civil War the wooden trestly was an attractive target for Confederate soldiers. In his 28 Dec 1862 raid on Burke’s Station, Confederate Major General J.E.B. Stuart sent twelve men to burn the trestle. Although termed an “inconsiderate structure” by the Union press, the raid was alarming to many because of its close proximity to Alexandria. The trestle was quickly rebuilt, allowing the Union to continue transporting vital supplies along the line for the remainder of the war.”
The park also has canoes, paddleboats, and rowboats available for rent. Visitors can also take a tour by boat. The park’s trail loop around the lake is a multi-use trail that accommodates bikes, as well as walkers and runners. And there are other trails that stretch beyond the park and connect to the Cross-County Trail, with its running trails and mountain biking trails. There is also a miniature golf course and an antique carousel near the south entrance to the park.
Accotink Park was one that I had not been to before, and I very much enjoyed the parts of the park that I saw. However, it is so big that there are still more parts to explore. So I guess I’ll just have to go back again soon.