On this hike, the route leaves the Potomac River to follow local trails through Loudoun County neighborhoods, primarily along the county’s network of parkways. It is an interim route available and accessible today while Loudoun County and others consider options for additional PHT segments.
En route to White’s Ferry, the route visits two exceptional Potomac sites, Red Rock Wilderness Area and Balls Bluff. It crosses into Maryland at White’s Ferry—on the ferry, that is—and connects with the C & O Canal NHP.
Red Rock and Balls Bluff are exceptional natural areas with immediate contact with the Potomac. Balls Bluff commemorates and interprets the Civil War battle fought there. Both offer the kind of immediate escape from hustle and bustle that the best urban and suburban parks provide.
The walks along the parkways are pleasant and, at times, scenic. Admittedly, people are unlikely to travel to the region merely to hike this segment through suburbia. Still, the parkways illustrate a moment in America’s story, one in which mammoth-scale residential development gives rise to the realization of the parkway idea. Loudoun County is laced with new and planned parkways designed both to move people efficiently by car and enable them to travel leisurely on foot. While some of these boulevards are nothing more than sidewalk-lined suburban arteries, others uphold the ideal of the “park way,” a green (or at least greenish) ribbon connecting communities .