Loudoun on Two Wheels
Known as “the skinniest park in Virginia”, the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is a 45-mile long cycling, walking and – in parts – equestrian trail built on the bed of the former W&OD railway line. The Loudoun section runs for about 20 miles, from Sterling in east Loudoun, to Purcellville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge out west. Hop on your bike and enjoy these highlights at your leisure.
MILE MARKER 24. Your ride starts just past mile marker 24 at Pacific Boulevard, Sterling. Cycle west, crossing Broad Run Creek, a tributary to the Potomac. The going is flat, trees and grassland all around.
25. Nudge into Ashburn and, depending on time of day and your thirst, stop for a craft ale at Old Ox Brewery, just steps from the trail. The surrounding scenery is woodland and semi-industrial buildings.
27. Feeling peckish? Stop at Carolina Brothers Pit BBQ, a tumbledown wood floor classic right at the Ashburn Road crossing. If succulent ribs and juicy brisket are not your thing, grab a sandwich and a soda at cozy gourmet market The Wine’ing Butcher Market nearby.
30. On the right, between Goose Creek and Sycolin Creek, is Two Creeks Trail Area, a beautiful little park with trails and streams.
32. Just before Battlefield Parkway you come to Tuscarora Creek. Kincaid Forest is to your right, the trees and foliage obscuring the restaurants and entertainment of the Village at Leesburg a short ride north.
33. Entering Leesburg proper, the trail does a sharp V-turn under the busy Leesburg Bypass. Tuscarora Creek is below and to your left, behind a thick trees and dense foliage. Although you can hear traffic, it’s hard to believe you have entered a town.
34. Cross Catoctin Circle SE at Station Auto Wash and enter historic downtown Leesburg, parking your bike at Raflo Park on Harrison Street. Tuscarora Mill Restaurant, Fireworks Pizza and the Loudoun Visitors Center are steps away, as is the George C. Marshall’s house, Dodona Manor. Spend the rest of the day exploring the museums, restaurants, breweries and boutiques of trendy King Street and East Market.
34. After an early morning latte and toasted bagel at King Street Coffee, rejoin the trail at the South King Street crossing, cycling west trough leafy residential neighborhoods.
35. The parking lot at Leesburg County High School is another vehicle entry point.
36. The trail climbs steeply for the next two miles adjacent to narrow Dry Mill Road, so be prepared. You will pass farms and fields to the left, Loudoun County Fairgrounds, site of the annual fair, on the right.
38. Cross Harry Bird Highway at the busy traffic circle and ease your way down to the residential settlement of Paeonian Springs. After the steep climb, grab some refreshments at well stocked Vino 9 Market on the side of Charles Town Pike (Route 9). If you take Clarke’s Gap Road from here it will deliver you to the historic Quaker village of Waterford, founded 1733, less than three miles north.
39. The going is easy: farm fields dotted with cows, horses and red barns on either side of the trail. You are in the heart of rural western Loudoun, the wind in your hair, the smell of honeysuckle all around.
41. Hamilton Station Road marks the spot where the W&OD train once stopped. You could cycle south from here into Hamilton village, or north, one mile up the hill, for a cool glass of Viognier at The Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyard, the tasting room a beautifully restored century-old dairy barn.
42: Spectacular Piedmont scenery either side: vineyards, fields of grain and wheat, lush green pasture dotted with cows, horses and red barns. For the first time you get open views of the Blue Ridge Mountains; cyclists, joggers and dog walkers for company.
44. Crossing busy Berlin Turnpike and the trail does a sharp left turn and then right entering Purcellville. The parking lot at Loudoun Valley High School another vehicle access to the trail.
44.5. The trail ends at the restored 1904-built Purcellville Train Station, adjacent to the much-loved restaurant, Magnolias at the Mill, which is located in a historic mill. You are now in the heart of historic downtown Purcellville where Catoctin Creek Distillery, Monk's BBQ, ice cream parlors Gruto's and The Tipped Cow and multiple thrift and antique shops are just yards away.