LOCAL HIKE:Rabbit Run to Crooked Creek to Lake Royal
This inaugural virtual hike starts and ends on campus from the Aquatic & Fitness Center. This suburban hike is about 5.27 miles roundtrip and covers a mix of sidewalk, well maintained trails, overgrown trail, and lakeside fields. While the hike itself is mostly flat it is a proper suburban adventure. The trail between Rabbit Branch and Crooked Run is mostly imaginary and is best followed by simply walking in the creek.
Disclaimer:This route is entirely on public property, but it is surrounded, sometimes VERY closely by private property. You are responsible for staying on public land and off private property.
Start at the front of the Aquatic & Fitness Center on the Fairfax campus. Walk down the sidewalk and stairs to the left of the building (when viewed from the front) towards Potomac Heights/Lot R.
At the intersection of Roberts and Braddock Rd, cross Braddock Rd and head south on Roberts Rd towards TapestryRd.
Turn left on Tapestry Rd.
Rabbit Branch Park will be on your right after a short distance.
Head into Rabbit Branch Park. On your left you will see a trail heading off into the woods. This trail follows Rabbit Branch creek through the forest between neighborhoods. You will pass two side trails on your right (which go out to neighboring streets) until the trail makes a hard right and connects to Crooked Creek Park which is also labeled Pohick Stream Valley Park on some maps. Follow this trail south until it intersects with Commonwealth Boulevard. This “trail” is at times quite nebulous and overgrown. The easiest way to follow this route is to bring some shoes you don’t mind getting wet and simply following the creek (often walking in it).
You will know where to turn south when the creek you’re following merges with another stream coming in from the left. This is the hard right turn (to the south) on the map below. This is marked by a mowed stretch of grass and erosion control blocks as seen in the photo below.
At Commonwealth, you can either cross the street on the road and head into the trail from the left side of the guardrail (by the Crooked Creek Park sign) OR stay at the creek level and go under the road (the dotted line below) and shown in the creek level photo.
Continuing on this trail brings you to Lake Royal and its trails.Take the Ronald Craven trail around the lake. If you turn right and cross the footbridge as you reach Lakeside Park you will go a slightly shorter route that stays more in the woods.This option is marked in red below. If, rather than crossing the footbridge at the beginning, you continue straight onto the trail at Lakeside Park you will take a slightly longer way around the lake and be more in the open. This route is marked in the purple below. Going this second way brings you past sports fields and townhouses. No matter which way you go, you will turn off the lakeside Ronald Craven Trail at the hook of the “J” , marked by a star below, heading on the trail towards Roberts Road. If you followed the red trail below this will be a righthand turn, if you followed the purple trail below this will be a lefthand turn.
When the trail emerges at Roberts Road it will look like the image below. CAREFULLY cross Roberts Road here to get on the sidewalk on the far side. Remember to look both ways. Once across Roberts Road you will turn right to head towards Commonwealth Boulevard.
Turn left on Commonwealth and follow it all the way to Sideburn Rd.
When you get to the intersection with Sideburn, cross Commonwealth (make a right) and then cross Sideburn (making a a left to cross) so that you end up on the far side of Sideburn road from Commonwealth. Turn right on Sideburn Rd to head back towards campus.
If you are on the correct side of Sideburn, once you reach the intersection with Braddock Rd you will have a crosswalk and a button for the light. Push the button or you will not get a crosswalk light. Once across Braddock you will turn right on the sidewalk until you are able to safely get onto the sidewalk for Nottoway River Lane. Follow Nottoway River Ln back towards Patriot Circle and the AFC.
Woohoo! You made it! Take a deep breath and relax after your 5.27mile (or 8.48km) journey through the nature surrounding campus. Keep an eye on this space for the trail view on Google. Happy hiking.