If there is a challenger to the Difficult Run Trail for the distinction of the best mountain bike trail in Northern Virginia, it is the trail system at Fountainhead Regional Park, where six loops connect to one another to form 8+ total miles of riding.
Andy's Loop is Loop 1 in the system. At only 1.5 mi in length, it makes for a quick, fun ride by itself. It also must be ridden if one wishes to access Loops 2-6; this is due to the one-way nature of the trails and the fact that access for Loops 2-6 is close to the end of Andy's Loop (see the trail map on this page).
The trail is mostly dirt, with some root gardens and some very infrequent rocky spots. There is one technical downhill and three other significant downhills, and there are three significant uphill climbs, but there are many minor hills and curves that keep the route interesting throughout its entirety. The trail is through thick woods, but there are a few spots with nice views of the Occoquan River, and riders not in a hurry will enjoy stopping to take in the scenery in those places.
Overall, it is not as scenic or challenging as the Difficult Run Trail, but one clear advantage it has is that the trails at Fountainhead are for bikes only, whereas the Difficult Run Trail is used by hikers, joggers, and riders (on both bikes and horses).
The trail is well signed and easy to follow, and it follows a counterclockwise direction; there really is little need for description. The technical downhill, which parallels Tree-eater run, is close to the beginning. A note-- the maps call it a technical downhill, but I did not think it was that difficult or dangerous, and my experience level is somewhere between beginner and intermediate.
Two more downhills follow before a short climb to an area where there are nice river views. The next few minutes are very scenic, as the water is always near.
Finally, the trail turns from the water and approaches Cardiac Hill, the hardest and best hill on the route. After the climb, you get to enjoy a short but fun downhill before rounding a tight curve and encountering a trail junction. Going left means a climb up the Stairway to Heaven and a return to the parking area; going right provides access to Loops 2-6.
Fountainhead Regional Park is located in the Clifton area of Northern Virginia. From Ox Road (123) use Henderson Road and/or Wolf Run Shoals Road to reach Hampton Road, which leads to the park entrance; there is good signage for finding the park.
The entrance road leads to the river, but before it gets there, there is a large parking area on the right side of the road. Park here and cross the road to start your ride. There are no entrance or usage fees.
When To Ride
Fountainhead Park is closed from early November to mid-March. When open, the hours are from dawn to dusk. Starting a ride within an hour of sunset is prohibited.
While wearing a helmet makes sense, anyway, do note that helmets are required for rides in the park.
Fountainhead Regional Park site