Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

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Video: Enjoy the Trail

In celebration of the continued coordination between parties managing, completing, and hosting the Potomac Heritage Trail in Northern Virginia, partners created this video to promote this amazing resource in the region.View other videos here: POHE Photos and Multimedia

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Signed Memorandum of Understanding among trail partners in Northern Virginia

This memorandum updates and 2014 agreement among trail managers and coordinators representing local, state, regional, and federal partners who host and promote the trail.

Webinar Held on How Park Prescriptions can Improve Public Health and Wellbeing 

Aug. 25, 2020 from 3:00 - 4:30

NVRC held a webinar on August 25, 2020 on how individuals suffering from ailments including obesity, depression, anxiety, stress, chronic disease, and inactivity may benefit from spending time outdoors in their local parks. Learn about the tools that public health officials and medical providers have developed to prescribe "Parks" and promote health and wellness. Recording of the webinar coming soon.

Featured Speakers

Sheila Hautbois, PA-C, MPH

Sheila Hautbois (“Oh-BWAH”) is a native northern Virginian practicing medicine as a PA in an outpatient cardiology office, where she focuses on disease prevention and reversal. She also gives health seminars for Inova Health System, local corporations, and Prince William County employees. Sheila is Adjunct Faculty at the local satellite campus of Shenandoah University’s PA program and is actively involved in local, state, regional and national health advocacy, including Park RX America.

Melicent Miller, Health Improvement Supervisor, Virginia Department of Health

Melicent earned a Master’s of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and is currently working to complete her Doctor in Public Health degree from Georgia Southern University. She has over a decade of experience in the public and non-profit sectors in program development and management, grant writing, health communication, and evaluation. Melicent is currently the Health Improvement Supervisor at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) where she works to reduce chronic disease burden across the lifespan and in all sectors to ensure that Virginians have the opportunity to learn and grow to become healthy, thriving, and resilient adults. Ultimately, her work at the VDH provides opportunities to build multi-sectoral partnerships in an effort to reduce health inequities and health disparities.

Watch the Webinar

Interactive Map of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

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Draft Phase I Potomac Heritage Trail Water Access Plan Available for Comment

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Enjoy the View!

NVRC staff conducted scenic viewshed inventories at thirteen locations throughout Northern Virginia.  The inventories were conducted using National Park Service scenic resource evaluation procedures, for twelve points along PHT segments in Northern Virginia.  A interactive story map that with locations and view descriptions can be found here http://nvrc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=ed97f510ce38406682cebd790f767bee



NVRC held a meeting in October 2019 to update a regional public water access plan.

NVRC held a meeting in December 2018 to discuss planned 2019 activities including additional scenic assessments, developing a regional public water access plan, familiarity tours, and revising the original 2014 Memorandum of Agreement for the Potomac Heritage Trail in Northern Virginia. 

NVRC held a meeting in January 2017 on long range trails in Northern Virginia for planners, land managers, transportation partners, parks and recreation, tourism staff, and other stakeholders.

Participants heard from the National Capital Trails Coalition, National Park Service, East Coast Greenways, W&OD Trails Manager, and Department of Conservation and Recreation staff on the following:

  1. Long Distance Trails within DC and Northern Virginia
  2. National Trails System and its benefits
  3. How long range trails benefit local routes, the region, and resources they can add to trail promotion and gap closures
  4. How to integrate long range trails into local networks and planning efforts
  5. How trails can support recreation beyond parks, with connection to natural areas, historic resources, and stories that they tell.
Corridor Analysis For the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Northern Virginia
The Corridor Analysis offers a regional summary of current and planned amenities, gaps, and plans for the Trail network, identifying proposed projects to enhance our communities and the Trail experience in Northern Virginia:
About the Trail

  • The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHT) is an evolving, 830-mile network of locally-managed trails and routes on both sides of the Potomac between the mouth of the River and the Allegheny Highlands in the upper Ohio River basin
  • Blending outdoor recreational opportunities with rich ecological, historical and cultural environments, the Trail network is intended for non-motorized modes of travel including, variously, foot, bicycle, boat, horse and cross-country skis
  • The Trail network in Northern Virginia includes various hiking, hiking/equestrian and hiking/equestrian/bicycling facilities, including the 10-mile Potomac Heritage Trail and 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail in George Washington Memorial Parkway, various trail segments in northern Fairfax and eastern Loudoun counties, and planned and existing segments in southern Fairfax and Prince William counties
  • Based on concept plans completed approximately 10 years ago, member jurisdictions have recognized the Trail in local comprehensive plans and the Commonwealth has recognized the trail in the Virginia Outdoors Plan
  • NVRC coordinates regular meetings among staff of member jurisdictions and other stakeholders provide means for coordination through the PHT Land Managers quarterly meetings.
  • More specifically, local PHT advocates in Northern Virginia are bringing into focus a continuous footpath between Locust Shade Park in southern Prince William County and White’s Ferry near Leesburg, Virginia, in Loudoun County, a distance of about one hundred miles
  • Upon completion users will be able to cross the Potomac at White’s Ferry and either continue north on the C&O Canal Towpath or continue south toward Georgetown to complete a loop using either Chain Bridge or the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge or the Arlington Memorial Bridge
NVRC’s Role
  • NVRC supports the PHT through an agreement with the National Park Service, ongoing collaboration with the PHT Land Managers group, a collection of state, federal and local land managers and planners involved in the Heritage Trail in Northern Virginia
  • NVRC also sponsors enhancement grant funding for trail construction activities in several jurisdictions
  • Land managers meet regularly in conference calls and in person meetings.

Background on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail 

The National Trail System (NTS) was established through enactment of the National Trail System Act of 1968 (82 Stat. 919, Public Law 90-543) (the Act). The legislation also authorized "feasibility studies" for additional components of the National Trails System, including the Potomac Heritage Trail; such a study was completed in 1974 by the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (this later was incorporated into the National Park Service). A 1983 amendment to the Act (77 Stat. 43, Public Law 90-543) designated the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (’’the Trail") as a component of the National Trails System, recognized a corridor for the Trail, and assigned administration of the federal interest in the Trail to the Secretary of the Interior, which role is delegated to the National Park Service (NPS) to "enter into such agreements with landowners, States, local governments, private organizations, and individuals for the use of lands for trail purposes ...".

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail spans close to 900 miles and is a braided trail network from the Laurel Hills Highlands Trail in western Pennsylvania to the mouth of the Potomac River. The trail spans five physiographic provinces and the Nation’s capital.

Today, the evolving Trail network is an enterprise of many partners, including government agencies at all levels, non-profit organizations, volunteers and commercial interests. The growing network provides opportunities for outdoor recreation, education and exploration between the mouth of the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands. Partnerships are at the heart of the Trail concept, creating a locally-managed, non-motorized trail network for outdoor recreation, education, transportation, health and heritage tourism.

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