Photo courtesy of Tysons Partnership
There’s a new way to connect in Tysons: cycling.
From my neighborhood on the east side, pedal around the Safeway or take a left at the Kingston apartments through MITRE Corporation to the McLean Metro stop at Route 123. Despite the wait, the crossing is safe and better than the one at the Great Falls intersection. And though I’ve never tried it, you could take the elevators (escalator anyone?) and cross over the Metro bridge as well.
In the early morning, fog might settle on the new Jones Branch connector (Scotts Crossing) by Capital One and Wegman’s, but there’s usually bright sun and little traffic over the thrumming Beltway and hazy skyline. The bridge is pitched so you can make it up on most road bikes, and it has pristine cycle lanes.
Go left on Jones Branch past the Hilton or right past Valo Park and left up Westbranch, which I usually do, and turn right on Westpark for a climb that gets the heart pumping all the way to International Drive. A right at Greensboro across from the Boro and Whole Foods sends you sailing past the Rotunda down to the “T” at Spring Hill for a quick left past the Ascent to the Metro stop on Route 7. The new Vesper Trail on the southeast side pops into Vienna, where I have explored the back roads to find a safe route to the W and O & D trail. There’s even a way to Wolf Trap that avoids the narrow (and scary) parts of Old Courthouse Road. It’s an adventure to find these links between east and west.
Alternatively, the sidewalk past the old Sheraton leads to a trail and a bridge that crosses the Dulles Access Road to Jarrett Valley Drive and the McLean Islamic Center, one of our Tysons Interfaith Partners. Explore the MIC neighborhood and cut across a bit of grass along Route 7 to the service road leading to the traffic signal at Lewinsville, where three churches, including TI member St. Thomas Episcopal, are located. Loop back along Lewinsville or explore the back roads to the Spring Hill Recreation Center along the rolling hills of Brook Road. There’s a bridge/tunnel trail from Spring Hill on the north side of Route 7 as well, but it stops way short. Soon, hopefully, all will be smooth sailing on both sides!
Pedaling around the area this COVID-19 spring and fall, I was impressed by the energy and diversity of Tysons, where young and old of many different backgrounds come out to exercise, walk their dogs, and play. They should also cycle, run, or walk through the Vienna and McLean neighborhoods, where the flora and fauna provide a yin to the yang of the emerging urban space. I’m not sure I would use a Bike Share loaner to cross the connector bridge, but the Vesper Trail is doable, and hardier folks might try the steeper climbs or even the bridge. You can always push the bike, as I saw one construction worker do one morning crossing from west to east. Where did he begin his journey?
Here is an interactive map you can use to explore the possibilities. The Vesper Trail is the unmarked route that parallels Spring Hill and ends on Vesper and Higdon Streets in Vienna: https://fairfaxcountygis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=8a7ac4884e9c4c9bb37acc69dfb237a4