Walking With a Buddy: A Senior Tackles the Cross County Trail


She’s 77 years old, and Diana Fazzari has been walking for exercise her entire life. It started as she grew up in England, continued in Canada, where she moved at age 21, and then on to Fairfax County, where she has lived since moving to the United States in 1979. Always looking for new challenges for her only form of exercise, Fazzari decided 2017 would be the year she tackled the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail. The 41-mile, multi-surface trail connects the entire county from one end to the other, from the Potomac River in Great Falls National Park to the Occoquan River in Occoquan Regional Park.

CCT 2The Fairfax resident started walking the trail in February with a few essentials in her pocket – like her cellphone and identification – but perhaps none more important than a printout of the Trail Buddy map. Fairfax Trail Buddy is an interactive, web-based mapping application for navigating the county’s 900-plus miles of trails, bikeways and sidewalks, which have been mapped and incorporated into a Geographic Information Systems database. Fairfax Trail Buddy also provides access to the Bike Fairfax interactive bike map, which highlights the most desirable on and off-road bike routes for recreational and commuter bicyclists.

Trail users can download the Trail Buddy app on their smartphones or access Trail Buddy on a tablet or computer, which is how Fazzari uses it because she does not own a smartphone. She started walking the trail at mile marker 1, breaking it into roughly two-mile segments that she walks on Sundays. Fazzari doesn’t walk every weekend, so she hopes to complete the trail in November.

Meeting with Fazzari at mile marker 30.5 in Springfield one delightful early fall morning, it’s easy to see why she finds Trail Buddy so helpful. She was able to easily identify a place to park our cars and begin our walk. Asphalt markings helped lead us onto the path, which took us through lush greenery.

Fazzari first discovered Trail Buddy when she was searching for other maps on the Fairfax County Park Authority website. As a big fan of Fairfax County’s trails, she said she was pleased to find a map with such detail. For example, the legend tells you whether a stretch is paved or not and whether crossings are all-weather, such as bridges, or fair-weather, such as stones. Fazzari says knowing what to expect on the trail helps her feel safe.

CCT 1Although we saw very few people on the trail when we walked together, Fazzari said that’s unusual, which is heartening to her as an avid walker. “Walking is good for sorting the thoughts,’’ as well as relieving stress, she says.

During the week Fazzari walks close to home, but she’s already thinking ahead to next year’s project. It’s hard to believe she hasn’t walked everywhere in the county, but she said there are still some trails she hasn’t explored, so 2018 might be a good time to walk all those other trails.

Author Lori K. Weinraub is a professional journalist and a volunteer writer for the Fairfax County Park Authority.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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