In Case of Snow, 45-Mile W&OD Trail Will Be Cleared


The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority will clear the Washington & Old Dominion Trail of snow this winter, says Chris Pauley, the director of park operations. The trail, owned and operated by the park authority, runs through Falls Church and is widely used by bikers, runners, walkers, skaters, and dog walkers.

Pauley said park crews will use snow blowers and other equipment and start clearing the trail one or two days after a snowfall. “Mother Nature” always helps out at the end, Pauley said.

The park authority has a new snow blower and another fairly new one which has not been used much in the past few years, since there has been little demand. Crews avoid operating heavy plows and other equipment to remove the snow since they might damage the trail’s surface.

The Fall Church Public Works office welcomed the news. Mike Collins, the director of public works said in a statement: “The City of Falls Church is pleased to learn that NOVA [Northern Virginia] parks will be a part of regional snow removal this winter, helping the D.C. metro area get back to normal as quickly as possible after a snowstorm.”

Pauley said the park authority “blew snow last year from the trail completely,” but it takes a while to clear the 45 miles of trail.

“Probably the biggest reason,” he said, to remove the snow from the W&OD, is “to promote it as a commuting route. In winter a lot of folks still ride and commute [on it]. We want to make it safer for people to walk, too, since a lot like to get out in the snow and walk in it.”

The park authority’s snow crew’s shop is in Ashburn. Before any snow removal is undertaken crews have to be able to safely reach Ashburn, Pauley said.

What about ice removal?

“That’s a different story,” Pauley said.

Elizabeth Acosta is a senior administrative assistant at the Falls Church public works office which has received several calls from trail users who want the snow removed when it eventually falls. The city lacks the resources to do that, she said, hailing the news that the park authority will do the job.
You can’t please everyone, which Acosta knows well enough.

She said one phone call she received came from a man who requested the trail not be cleared since he is training for Alaska’s long-distance sled dog race, the Iditarod, and favors conditions “as is.”