Field Trip to Holmes Run Gorge

posted Feb 8, 2013, 9:00 AM by Marty Nielsen

Saturday, February 23, 2013


1:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Field trip co-sponsored by the Ford Nature Center and the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society.


Leaders: Rod Simmons, Jennifer Millwood, and John Burke.


Bring:  Wear good shoes and bring lunch or snacks and water.  We'll walk mainly on trails, but the terrain is steep and rocky in places.  (Folks who aren't comfortable with steep grades can turn back when the gently rolling upland ridge trail of the first segment of the walk reaches the point where it becomes steep.)


Field trip is free and open to non-members. 


Please RSVP Jennifer Millwood at (703) 746-5559 or


The scenic Holmes Run Gorge is one of the most floristically and geologically diverse areas of northern Virginia.  Dramatic cliffs and massive outcroppings of bedrock abound, capped by ancient gravel terraces and deposits of the Potomac Formation.  The vegetation of the Gorge is diverse, with old-age forest stands and many species that are uncommon to rare in the region.


We’ll walk the section of the gorge from Columbia Pike downstream to the western edge of the City of Alexandria at Dora Kelley Nature Park.  


Directions: From western Fairfax County or Maryland, take the Capital Beltway (495) to Braddock Rd. (Rt. 620) north exit.  Follow Braddock Rd. north for several miles, crossing Little River Turnpike (Rt. 236) and Lincolnia Rd., to its end at Columbia Pike (Rt. 244).  Turn right onto Columbia Pike and stay in right lane for a couple of blocks to crest of hill above the Lake Barcroft Dam at Holmes Run.  Turn right onto Fairfax Pkwy. and make immediate half left onto parallel service road along Columbia Pike, park along service road, and walk downhill on sidewalk along Columbia Pike across the pedestrian bridge over Holmes Run to the parking lot at the park entrance.  Otherwise, continue past the Fairfax Pkwy. entrance on Columbia Pike to the parking area at the trail entrance just opposite the Lake Barcroft Dam.  (Parking lot can only be accessed from the northbound lane of Columbia Pike.)  This area is about halfway between Bailey's Crossroads and Annandale.


*Field trip cancelled for heavy-steady snow, sleet, or pouring rain, but not for snow flurries or drizzling rain.


For ARMN members, field trip applies per usual towards advanced training hours in botany, ecology, and geology.