I wanted to ride the W+OD trail into Arlington, so I needed to get to Purcellville where it starts. From Front Royal, the most direct route is to take 340 to Berryville and then 7 to Purcellville. After breakfast in Front Royal, I rode over the river, through Riverton, and under I-66. This part of ride had a good bit of traffic since it was a weekday morning and people were commuting to work, but things got better as I rode away from I-66 and most of the route was rural with little traffic. I stopped a park in Boyce for a snack and again when I got to the top of Snickers Pass on 7. Berryville and the other towns along this route are quite charming.
As you can see from the photo, 7 is a four lane divided highway, with a good shoulder. I found it to be pretty easy riding and, especially on top of Snickers pass where it crosses the Appalachian Trail, also pretty. This pass was an early (revolutionary war) route across the Blue Ridge and is, by Parkway standards, a pretty easy climb. Similarly the hill down to the east is nice, but not spectacular. Riding on 7 and then Business 7 was OK. Traffic wasn't bad and the shoulder was good. Riding was a little noisy at times because of the high speed traffic. Once I got to Purcellville, I ate lunch and, with a little bit of trouble, found the start of the W+OD trail.
The W+OD trail is great. It basically parallels 7 and later, after it becomes the 4 mile creek trail, I-66 into Arlington. On the way it passes through Leesburg, Sterling, Herndon, Reston, Vienna, and Falls Church. The trail is two (bike) lanes of asphalt except in the communities where it sometimes follows streets. It can be a bit crowded with walkers and other users in the towns, but the rest of it (35 of the 45 miles?) is just easy riding. I stopped for a snack in a school yard alongside the trail in Vienna and then rode on into Arlington. I made the wrong exit (it is confusing) from the trail and had to ride US 50 from one exit to the next in order to get to my sister's house, but it was no big deal. I arrived in mid afternoon and hung out on her back porch enjoying my sense of accomplishment while I waited for her to get home from work.
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