Under beautiful sunny skies on Sunday, September 27 nineteen participants joined Sierra Club Potomac Region Outings and the Potomac Heritage Trail Association for a ten mile hike of the Civil War Defense of Washington Trail in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Rock Creek Park. Organized by hike leader Glenn Gillis of Sierra Club PRO and Don Briggs of the National Park Service, hikers met at the Rock Creek Nature Center before being shuttled by charter bus to the hike start at Fort Marcy in Northern Virginia. From Fort Marcy the route Pimmit Run to Chain Bridge before crossing into Washington D.C. After crossing the Potomac River, the group picked up the C&O Canal before reaching the outskirts of historic Georgetown. From Georgetown, the route continued through Glover-Archbold Park to Tenleytown, and the highest point in the nations capital at Fort Reno Park. Continuing on shady streets, the hike ended at the Rock Creek Nature Center in time for a most enjoyable National Park Service celebration. The celebration included guest speakers, special events, and a most hearty birthday cake in honor of Rock Creek Park's 125th anniversary.
First proposed as a scenic and historic byway at the turn of the 20th century, the National Park Service has long been interested in creating a trail that would protect and showcase the many forts and batteries that were constructed to protect the nation's capital during the Civil War. After a century of false starts and long delays, the Civil War Defense of Washington Trail is finally becoming a reality. As a section of the rapidly growing Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, the Civil War Defense of Washington Trail will soon be completed and circle Washington D.C. from the C&O Canal to Oxon Cove Park near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and National Harbor.
William P. Niedringhaus was the first to envision the Fairfax Cross County Trail (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/cct/). He led several Cross-County Hikes from Lorton to Great Falls in 1998-2001 to promote the idea. The trail officially opened in 2007. Bill won an Elie Doyle award in 2001 for Cross-County Trail advocacy and shared one in 2007 with five others (including PHTA board member Robin Rentsch). He is currently president of the PHTA and Fairfax Trails and Streams. Bill designs, builds and maintains many miles of trails.