If you’re looking for a simple, dog-friendly hike that’s within a 20-minute drive of the Beltway, look no further than the Rocky Run Stream Valley Trail in Fairfax. The trail runs just under 3.5 miles from the Fairfax County Parkway at Monument Drive to Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly.
There’s no climbing, scrambling or jumping required to enjoy this trail; it’s finished with asphalt and stone dust surfaces with very little change in elevation. It winds along, and occasionally crosses Rocky Run Stream. You can let your dog wade in the stream, but only on-leash. While the trail is out of sight of major roadways, it’s still located in fairly dense suburbs and a runaway dog could reach a road quickly. (Plus, Fairfax County’s leash law is enforced here.)
The parks provide peaceful areas to stop for a picnic, and have the added benefit of restrooms (at Greenbrier and Lawrence). Even though bikes are allowed on the trail, and horseback riding is permitted in Lawrence Park, all we encountered on our warm, Sunday afternoon hike were a handful of walkers and runners. It’s really annoying to have to pull your dog close every few minutes to the call of, “On your left!” as a biker swooshes by, so this was a nice surprise.
There are four parking lots that provide access to the trail; two on either side of Walney Road at Lawrence Park, one at Greenbriar Park, and one at Poplar Tree Park, both on Stringfellow Road.
Gwyn Donohue is the author of the blog Two Dog Tales. Head there to read about more events, activities, and news for Washington dog owners.