The Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) runs 45 miles between Shirlington, VA and Purcellville, VA. The trail is paved and is in excellent condition. The W&OD is popular with walkers, cyclists, and joggers, so runners should exercise the appropriate trail etiquette: keep to the right, run in single file, and keep headphone noise to a minimum (or avoid headphones altogether). Despite the trail’s popularity, it includes many open stretches that will allow runners to add pace pickups into their workouts. Still, the trail consistently runs through urban and suburban neighborhoods, and there are some at-grade street intersections along the way. Always be cautious. Finally, the W&OD offers many gradual rolling hill segments, affording runners the opportunity for varied terrain in their workouts.
Water and Lighting
The W&OD trail does contain many segments with dedicated on-trail lighting. Also, the trail’s close proximity to densely populated portions of Northern Virginia affords runners a good amount of ambient lighting. Nevertheless, the trail does pass through a variety of wooded sections of the Northern Virginia landscape where there is no light at all. Runners should always be equipped with the necessary reflective gear and personal lighting when using this trail.
The W&OD trail does contain many water fountains at regular intervals. However, these fountains are subject to seasonal restrictions. Also, given the trail’s long length, it is difficult to predict the availability of water—due to matters like construction and trail repairs—at any given time. Runners should always carry water (or sports drink) for longer workouts. Given the W&OD’s close proximity to many populated areas of Northern Virginia, runners should also carry money in case they wish to purchase water at any point.
Many and seamless. The W&OD is woven directly into suburban landscape of Northern Virginia. Therefore, runners can access the trail simply by stepping onto it at most any street intersection or dedicated trailhead in any of the towns through which it passes. In doing so, always be courteous to those who are already using the trail.