By Robby Osborne
With winter holding us firmly within its icy grasp, it’s hard to think of anything but the cold. We here at Northern Virginia Magazine ask you to dream of a warm breeze brushing against your skin, of morning sunlight reflected off the dew drops of freshly budded flowers, and of your heart racing as you ride through what can only be described as a garden of rocks on your bike, knuckles white against the handlebars. Wait.
In October 2013, work began on what is known as The Black Loop Project on the mountain bike trails in Fountainhead Regional Park off Hampton Road. The goal of the Black Loop Project is to restore the weather-worn section, while adding new challenging obstacles, and keeping the back-country nature of the trails. The project will add 4.8 miles of new trail to the expert loop of the trails, retain 2.5 miles of the original loop and close 1.5 miles.
The Fountainhead bike trail is made up of three connected loops of varying skill levels. Similar to skiing/snowboarding difficulty levels, green is the beginner loop, blue for intermediate and the in-construction black loop. With this system of difficulty, riders of all skill level can enjoy the trails. Even while work is being done, the black loop will remain open as long as the trails are open. In 1995, the original bike trail was formed by connecting a combination of hiking trails and old deer trails. Since then, the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) have been maintaining and expanding the trails in partnership with the Northern Virginia Park Authority.
The funding for The Black Loop Project is provided by a $152,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration under management of the VA Bureau of Land Management. There is a caveat, and that is in order to use all of the funds allotted, MORE and their partners must raise $30,400 in cash, labor, service and material donations.
The project is broken up into five phases, each phase focusing on a different aspect of riding. As of publication, work on Phase 3 has begun. Ironwood Outdoors and Bergrad Trails are building and designing the Black Loop, after Ironwood Outdoors served as prime contractors on the Green and Blue Loop redesigns of last year.
The Black Loop Project isn’t scheduled to be finished until the summer of 2014, but here is a sneak peek of some of the new moves the trails have to offer.
Fountainhead Regional Park
10875 Hampton Road Fairfax Station