A Walk to Beat the Virus Blues

By Christopher Jones

The bridge over Tripps Run is the walk’s midway point. (Photo: Christopher Jones)

Health practitioners agree that a daily walk is essential to warding off the novel cornavirus’ side effect of cabin fever striking all who endure the pandemic right now. A variety of scenic walking routes are found within the City of Falls Church, but this two-miler featuring wooded pathways to historical landmarks and the city’s downtown district encompasses all Falls Church has to offer.

“Some outdoor time every day,” is advised by the doctors at Falls Church’s Northern Virginia Pediatrics, “as fresh air and exercise are good for our bodies, minds, and souls, especially when the coronavirus pandemic is limiting so many other aspects of our lives.”

Starting from the Falls Church Community Center, a short stroll through the trails running under the nearby Virginia Pine canopy provides a view of Cherry Hill Park and its 1845 Greek Revival manor house.

Venturing out of the park’s southwest corner, walkers can go down Virginia Avenue and make a right onto West Broad Street.

A rich history accompanies this tree-lined corridor. Originating from Native American pathways, this byway, now the main thoroughfare of the Little City, saw the very first pioneer settlers to what would become the Village of Falls Church as early as 1699. In the present tense, many restaurants are advertising “Grab and Go” provisions for those that are burnt out on cooking.

Howard E. Herman Stream Valley Park’s new entrance right off the main drag features a grand gateway and large brickwork compass dial on the next walking stop. The park is the City’s most up-to-date, having just completed renovations toward the end of 2019. Understory plantings provided by community volunteers can be seen nearby as walkers approach the stream as well as public art installations of local artist Marc Robarge (with student volunteers), blending natural and sculptural elements to surprise passersby.

A short detour over the pedestrian bridge of Tripps Run, past Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is the upper portion of Cavalier Trail Park. And a quick glance across South Washington Street is a familiar site in Victory Comics.

By now the walk is well on its way to the recommended minimum of an hour outside by professionals such as Falls Church Wellness Center counselor Jessica MacNair. But while some could have taken MacNair’s advice “not to trap themselves inside unnecessarily,” they may not be eager to finish off seeing some of the City’s best sights.

Going up S. Washington St walkers will come across the Tinner Hill Civil Rights Monument honoring the 1918 founding of the first rural branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A history of the local civil rights movement is embedded in the brick sidewalk and is near the Tinner Hill Historic Site, the home of the Tinner family where descendant Joseph Tinner became the first president of the Falls Church branch of the NAACP and, along with Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson, helped defeat early attempts at segregation.

Up the street from Foxes Music is a Mt. Rushmore mural featuring Elvis Presley before coming upon one Virginia’s most interesting treasures, The Falls Church Episcopal.

With the original structure built in 1734, this Anglican church, one of the country’s oldest, became a landmark and the City’s eventual namesake, serving travellers to the Potomac’s ‘Little Falls’ (hence its name.) In the 1760s, vestrymen of the church included George Washington and George Mason and it was the site of a public reading of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.

Continuing to walk up S. Washington St. a few blocks, you return to the heart of the City at the intersections of Broad and Washington Streets. A left on Broad and walkers will come upon Mr. Brown’s Park which was remodeled last year and named in honor of Hugh Brown, the longtime owner of Brown’s Hardware, the City’s oldest business, founded in 1883.

Turn right at Little Falls Street. In a few blocks is the starting point at the Community Center. Hopefully, those who did embark on this trip found it a healthy and contemplative walk through the Little City.