Four Mile Run Trail

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Map of the trail (omitting its northwesternmost 0.5 miles)
Joggers on the Four Mile Run trail, 2019

The Four Mile Run Trail is a 7-mile long, paved shared use path in Arlington County, Virginia. It runs along Four Mile Run from Benjamin Banneker Park in Falls Church[1][2] to the Mount Vernon Trail near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where Four Mile Run empties into the Potomac River. The trail runs roughly parallel to parts of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail as it follows Four Mile Run, sometimes on the other side of the stream.[3]


The trail opened on September 4, 1967 as a four-mile, unpaved trail between Roosevelt Street and the Columbia Pike.[4] In 1966, Arlington County was one of 12 urban areas to receive a grant from the Department of the Interior as a demonstration of urban trails, the first such grants ever given.[5] The Four Mile Run Trail was the first of these trails built, making it the nation's first shared use path built with federal funds. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall had created the program in hopes that it would build support for trails legislation he was supporting. That legislation later became the National Trail System Act of 1968. The trail was built adjacent to an existing hiking trail and the still extant W&OD railroad tracks.[6]

In the following years, the trail was paved and expanded. By 1971, most sections of the trail were paved, but it still had many low-water crossings and cinder-surfaced sections.[7] By 1977, the trail had been expanded south to I-95, where it crossed I-95 on the Shirlington Overpass which had been opened in 1972, and west of Broad Street in Falls Church (along the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) right-of-way). In 1980, as part of construction of seven bridges across Four Mile Run - for Route 1, Potomac Yard railroad, the main rail line and the George Washington Parkway - the Army Corps of Engineers built an extension of the Four Mile Run Trail beneath them that connected the trail to the Mount Vernon Trail. Later that spring, the gap between the new section and I-95 was opened, connecting it to the W&OD Trail via the Shirlington Overpass.[8] The work between the W&OD trail and the Mt. Vernon trail was to include an underpass beneath I-95, but that wouldn't be completed for nearly 30 years.[9][10]

In 2009, a trail extension was completed near Shirlington that not only linked the end of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail with the Four Mile Run Trail, but also allowed trail users to pass under the Shirley Highway (Interstate 395) and West Glebe Road without having to ride on-street in Shirlington and Alexandria.[11][12] A trail crossing had been promised at this location during construction of I-395 in the early 1970s.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "W&OD and FMR Trails in Banneker Park to be improved, then rerouted". TheWashCycle. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  2. ^ "Benjamin Banneker Park Framework Plan & Design Guidelines Report" (PDF). Arlington County. 2017-12-16. p. 1. Retrieved 2020-08-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Arlington County Bike Map: 2019" (PDF). BikeArlington. Arlington County government. May 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 6, 2020. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "Arlington's Bicycle Trail Dedication". Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Arlington to Get Bicycle Trail". The Evening Star. 24 July 1966.
  6. ^ Cranor, David. "Project will widen section of Four Mile Run to 12 feet, eventually remove fence". The Washcycle. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Around the Town". Washington Evening Star. May 16, 1971.
  8. ^ Hodge, Paul (24 January 1980). "Seven Bridges Span Four Mile Run Flood-Control Project and Bicycle Trail". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ Hodge, Paul (22 December 1977). "Hiking and Biking on the 'Virginia Creeper'". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ Crosby, Thomas (12 May 1977). "....and You Can Join the Pedal Parade". The Evening Star.
  11. ^ "Arlington Kicks Off Work on New Four Mile Run Trail". News Release. Arlington, Virginia: Arlington County Government. 2007-10-20. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  12. ^ "Arlington Enhances Scenic Four Mile Run Trail with New Extension". News Release. Arlington, Virginia: Arlington County Government. 2009-05-26. Archived from the original on 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2011-07-12.

External links[edit]

  • "Four Mile Run Park". Arlington, Virginia: Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation. 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2014-03-31.

Coordinates: 38°50′42″N 77°05′43″W / 38.8451247°N 77.0951816°W / 38.8451247; -77.0951816