Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Interactive Map of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
Draft Phase I Potomac Heritage Trail Water Access Plan Available for Comment
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 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.
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:
- Long Distance Trails within DC and Northern Virginia
- National Trails System and its benefits
- How long range trails benefit local routes, the region, and resources they can add to trail promotion and gap closures
- How to integrate long range trails into local networks and planning efforts
- How trails can support recreation beyond parks, with connection to natural areas, historic resources, and stories that they tell.
- 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 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.