Fall is a really great time of year to be out on a trail, any trail, but especially the Dahlgren Trail. I’m seeing many notable things on my frequent visits: more cars at our parking areas, and more walkers and cyclists. Dog lovers have found the trail too; we give thanks to our wonderful trail users for keeping all pets on a leash. I also saw several local scout groups completing a 20-mile hike for their hiking merit badge!
We were recently awarded a grant to improve our parking at two parking areas: the Comorn Road and Indiantown Road crossings. Many thanks to our friends at the Fredericksburg Community Foundation for giving us the opportunity to make these critical improvements which will lead to increased access for our beloved trail. We’re very appreciative of our trail users who let us know about conditions on the trail that need attention. Believe it or not, the most reliable way for us to know about a fallen tree is through an email or Facebook note from a trail user. We generally see up to five downed trees a month on the trail. Our chain saw gang (aka: The Flying Lumberjacks) can get it cleared pretty quickly – if you see an issue on the trail, reach out to us!
We’re also thrilled about upcoming events on the trail! A new King George Race Series will be inaugurated in 2021. The races to be in the series are the Dahlgren Trail Winter Half-Marathon in February, the Sheetz-to-Sheetz Run in March, the 3H Half-Marathon in August, and the Howlin’ Coyote 10k at Caledon State Park in October. We want to give a huge acknowledgement and thanks to Kristen Loescher of Arsenal Events, Justyn Cox, Friends of Caledon, and Chris Chalkley for spearheading this initiative. Runners can sign up now for the series or for individual races at arsenal-events.com.
When we’re out for a walk, run or ride, we don’t always think about the topography and hydrology of the trail. The trail, while mostly level, rises slightly going east to west. The rise starts at about mile 7, and continues on a slight grade until approximately mile marker 4 where it crosses the “ridge” separating the Potomac and the Rappahannock watersheds - King George’s own “continental divide.”
There are a lot of streams, both perennial and intermittent, that flow under the trail. They feed into Lamb’s Creek flowing south to the Rappahannock, and into Peppermill and Williams Creeks flowing eventually to the Potomac. The streams flow under the trail through culverts or pipes. Ian Littlejohn has started to catalog the location and status of these culverts and pipes, and he has been noting which ones need clearing. It’s our responsibility to keep the culverts and pipes clear so the streams and rainfall water can flow freely. In addition to the pipes and culverts, the ditches alongside of the trail sometimes become clogged and blocked in a few places, so we need to get those cleared out too. If you’d like to help with this job, consider joining our maintenance crew.
And finally, we owe our thanks to an Eagle Scout candidate, Gary Garay, who was finished replacing the canvas roof on our vintage RF&P caboose. His was a big job and was much needed to maintain the water-tightness of the car. We’ll have a more complete report on Gary’s project in an upcoming newsletter.
As most of you know, the trail depends on volunteers and donations to keep things going. Anything you can chip in is appreciated. If you haven’t, please consider donating to our “Treasure the Trail” fundraiser, in which proceeds will go right back into tangible trail improvements so that the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail is an enjoyable, accessible, and healthy place for everyone, year-round.
It is hard to beat the nice crisp weather this time of year! I hope to see you on the trail sometime!
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