The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) is pleased to announce the kick-off of a community impact assessment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHNST) in Northern Virginia that includes an assessment of health equity, social equity, transportation, and economic impacts of improving trail access, closing trail gaps, and making safe connections to nearby communities. The objective of the study is to assess the public health and community-related impacts associated with use of the trail and to provide recommendations to maximize those impacts and help justify the investment of public funds to complete and sustain the trail. You can find information, updates, and subscribe to PHNST updates here.
Trails not only provide a wide range of recreational values, services, and protection of specific natural and cultural features, but they also explicitly contribute to social and economic well-being. To assist the National Park Service, local governments, and land managing agencies with completion of their portion of the PHNST trail and connection trail gaps, NVRC, on behalf of its PHNST partners, seeks to develop a deeper understanding about why a completed PHNST trail and a network of connections would be valuable to Northern Virginia residents, businesses, and the economy.
The National Trail System (NTS) Act enacted the establishment of the PHNST. The PHNST spans close to 900 miles and is a braided trail network from the Laurel Hills Highlands Trail in western Pennsylvania to the mouth of the Potomac River.
Today, the evolving trail network is an enterprise of many partners, including government agencies at all levels, non-profit organizations, volunteers, and commercial interests. The trail network is locally managed, providing outdoor recreation, education, transportation, health, and heritage tourism. The Potomac Heritage Trail blends outdoor recreational opportunities with rich ecological, historical, and cultural environments. The trail network is intended for non-motorized modes of travel including, variously, foot, bicycle, boat, horse, and cross-country skis.
In Northern Virginia, the trail includes various hiking, hiking/equestrian, and hiking/equestrian/bicycling facilities. Today the trail runs through Northern Virginia from southern Prince William County to the Town of Leesburg, with some smaller sections not complete. Existing segments include the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail and the George Washington Memorial Parkway trail. Existing segments also run along the Potomac River through much of Fairfax County and Prince William County, as well as part of Loudoun County. Land managers and advocates envision the PHNST becoming a continuous footpath from Locust Shade Park in southern Prince William County all the way to the northwest corner of Loudoun County at the border of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia proximate to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Learn more about the Potomac Heritage Trail at https://www.nps.gov/pohe/index.htm, and about Northern Virginia coordination of the Trail at: https://www.novaregion.org/299/Potomac-Heritage-National-Scenic-Trail.
Reach out to Corey Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the Trail study.