Our History

The Fauquier Trails Coalition is a 501(3c) non-profit organization that is dedicated to the development and operation of a countywide greenway system for the benefit of the populace of Fauquier County.

Our purpose is:

  • To seek and accept public or private contributions, gifts, bequests, devises, grants or donations, and to expend, accumulate and invest the same.
  • To make distributions and donations of money or property to the County of Fauquier, State of Virginia, or to any national, state, county, municipal, or other governmental unit, board or corporation.
  • To inform and educate citizens as to the value of greenways and open space and the role of the Fauquier Trails Coalition, Inc.
  • To exercise the powers which are now or may hereinafter be conferred upon not-for-profit organizations organized under the laws of the State of Virginia.

Catalyzed by Norfolk Southern Railroad’s decision to remove the “Warrenton Branch” railroad tracks between Saunders Quarry and Warrenton in July 1989, a group of Fauquier County citizens began meeting in 1990 to promote pedestrian and bicycling greenway trails in Fauquier County.

Originally named the “Citizens for the Warrenton Branch,” the group met monthly at the Depot Restaurant or Fauquier County Parks & Rec’s Shadow Lawn Senior Center. While the FTCI’s long-term vision was for a network of trails for pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians, and waterway users, the initial focus was to convert the abandoned railroad right-of-way into a trail (a rails-to-trails project).

The group is now called the Fauquier Trails Coalition, Inc., or (“FTCI”).

Since the founding of FTCI, Larry Miller, Fauquier County Parks & Recreation Director, has attended the monthly meetings and has been steadfast in his assistance to FTCI.

On May 18, 1991, FTCI sponsored a walk along the old railroad right-of-way to kick off its railsto-trails campaign.

On August 13, 1991, the Warrenton Branch Citizen group comprised of Manual Ayala, Per Bang-Jensen, William Barr, Scott Freiburg, Jimmy Messick, Larry Miller, Meade Palmer, Barry Starke, Robert C. Teates, Dr. L.J. Turner, and Leon Williams. The group petitioned the Warrenton Town Council that the Town acquire the railroad right-of-way within the Town limits. Richard Bowen, then Chairman of the Fauquier County Parks & Recreation Board, provided a letter of support.

One of the early successes of the FTCI was working with the VDOT’s Resident Engineer for Fauquier County, Bob Moore, to save the new railroad bridge built in 1986 over the new Bypass east of Warrenton. The bridge, built by VDOT at a cost of over $1 million, was only used by the railroad for one round trip to and from Warrenton before the decision was made to abandon rail service to Warrenton. Although metal scrap dealers wanted to buy the large steel structural beams of the bridge from VDOT, Mr. Moore said that VDOT would not sell the bridge to the scrap dealers as long as progress was being made to convert the railroad right-of-way to a trail.

On July 22, 1992, FTCI members met with US Congressman George Allen to discuss the greenway proposal for the Warrenton Branch. Jimmy Messick, the first President of FTCI, was named “Trail Volunteer of the Year” for the Commonwealth of Virginia as part of a nationwide competition.

In 1993, a three-party public-private partnership comprised of Fauquier County (Parks & Recreation Department), the Town of Warrenton, and the Fauquier Trails Coalition, Inc. applied for a grant under the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (“ISTEA”) to acquire right-of-way and to design and build a greenway trail from the old railroad depot to Old Meetze Road, just past the Warrenton Eastern Bypass. Those providing support for the grant application included Delegate Jerry Wood, Congressman George Allen, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club. In order to expedite the start of the project and improve the chances of being awarding an ISTEA grant, FTCI paid to start the title work before government entities were able to commit funds to the project. Members of FTCI were active in examining old deeds and plats, talking with adjoining property owners, and speaking with citizens at neighborhood awareness meetings.

In July 1993, FTCI co-sponsored a meeting in the Town Hall for the adjoining landowners along the proposed Greenway. The panel included Mayor Willard Lineweaver, Police Chief Dale Koglin, Public Works Director Mike Moon, and Parks & Rec Director Larry Miller. Also on the panel were the Mayor and Town Manager of Leesburg who shared Leesburg’s positive experience with the W&OD Trail in Leesburg.

In October of 1993, the FTCI organized the first fundraising and trail-awareness bicycle ride. The ride, originally named the “Fauquier Fall Foliage Bike Classic” and later the “Great Pumpkin Ride,” started at the trailhead behind the Depot and had routes between 3 and 62 miles. Over the years, the Great Pumpkin Ride has become a favorite end-of-the-season ride for cyclists from Virginia, Maryland, and DC and also from as far away as Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. The Great Pumpkin Ride is known for its great T-shirts (designed by Dave Henrickson of Flashpoint Communications) and for pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin squares, and pumpkin bagels.

In 1994, Fauquier County, the Town of Warrenton, and FTCI were advised that their joint application had been awarded a $443,000 grant. Subsequently, FTCI worked to encourage the Town of Warrenton’s purchase of a prefabricated bike/pedestrian bridge over Fourth Street to supplement the ISTEA grant. This permitted the trail to be built at a user-friendly grade and tied in at the same grade with both the original depot station and trail head parking lot. Norfolk Southern railroad generously donated property that helped make the Greenway possible.

In 1998, volunteers from the Friends of the Warrenton Caboose" fully restored a Norfolk & Western caboose which has become a popular interactive display at the Warrenton trailhead for children and railroad fans of all ages.

The dedication and official opening of the Warrenton Greenway in 1998 drew a large crowd and David Burwell, President of the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy gave the keynote address.

In 1999, FTCI met with the Landfill Manager to develop a route through the portion of the landfill to be capped and closed for a future trail from the Community College to Green Road. The intent is that one day a cyclist could go from Old Town Warrenton to Green Road (“Cyclists Gateway to South Fauquier County”) without going on the relatively heavily-traveled Meetze Road. The same would apply for pedestrian use.

In September 2004, the FTCI was designated as one of three official “Citizen Support Groups” by Fauquier County Parks & Recreation Department.

On September 27, 2004, the US Internal Revenue Service informed Fauquier Trails Coalition, Inc., that it was exempt from income tax under section 501 (c) (3).

In January, 2006, the Fauquier County Parks & Recreation Department announced that its electronic counter at the Warrenton Greenway Tail totaled over 90,000 trail users during 2005.

On May 18, 2006, the FTCI sponsored a bus tour of recently constructed greenway trails in the Warrenton area for county and town officials to trail sites including the newly-constructed trails at White’s Mill.

Also in May of 2006, Congressman Frank Wolfe advised that Fauquier County would receive an additional grant for the connector trail between the existing Warrenton Greenway Trail and Lord Fairfax Community College. FTCI had been working with Parks & Rec and Lord Fairfax Community College to help extend the existing greenway trail to the college. A federal grant was been obtained to help start the process. The Board of the Community College agreed to provide easements for the trail. FTCI worked with Parks & Rec and the Fauquier Planning Office to ensure that the layout of the trail on the Community College property would have several ways of reaching the existing Greenway Trail and/or Meetze Road. Additional trail routes become possible with Fauquier County purchased of the 200-acre Stafford property, which fronted on Meetze Road and was also contiguous with Community College property.

In January 2007, FTCI sponsored an Equestrian Trail Forum at the Warrenton Green Building. The Fauquier County Connection Plan was approved by Fauquier County Board of Supervisors as part of the county's Comprehensive Plan on November 15, 2007. FTCI had worked with Fauquier County Parks & Rec Department to develop this plan. The Plan generously acknowledges FTCI’s “guidance and support in the development of the Plan.” The plan identifies locations that are in need of greenways and bikeway improvements, and identifies a number of action that need to be taken to ensure that future land preservation efforts, development, and road construction addresses the need to greenways and safer pedestrian and bicycle movement between the County’s Service Districts. In July 2005, FTCI had made a $5,000 donation to Fauquier County to help pay for the preparation of the Greenway Plan.

The plan makes several recommendations including:

  • Implementing a bicycle and pedestrian safety education curriculum in school and Parks & Rec programs.
  • Initiating a “Safe Routes to School” program.
  • Conducting programs and events that encourage bicycling and walking for fun, health and fitness, and for transportation.
  • Developing employee bicycle commuting incentive programs
  • Providing training to local agency staff regarding “what to look for” when conducting plan review with respect to trail, bikeway and pedestrian accommodations.
  • Improving enforcement of laws concerning the safe interaction of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorist in shared environment.
  • Providing for convenient and safe bicycle and pedestrian access to future transit facilities and vehicles.

Members of FTCI also worked with the Town of Warrenton to help develop theTown’s “Sidewalk and Trail” plan which included a looping trail around Warrenton and trail connections including connections between the Warrenton Aquatic Recreation Center and Old Town and between Old Town and the County Recreation Center on Old Auburn Road.

In April 2008, the FTCI requested that the Fauquier Board of Supervisors approve in principal that the railroad right-of-way on the County-owned Stafford property be converted to a greenway trail as funding permits.

On June 8, 2008, the FTCI sponsored a Fauquier Family Walk on the Warrenton Greenway in conjunction with National Trails Day.

In September 2008, the Awards Committee of the Kodak American Greenway Awards announced that the Fauquier Trails Coalition, Inc. was one of its national winners. The award supported FTCI plan to design and build trail kiosks, which FTCI successfully built and installed at the new White’s Bill trails in 2009.

The first section of trail at the Lord Fairfax Community College was completed in 2009 following the T-Grant awards totaling $204,000. Considerable work had previously been undertaken to obtain an easement from the Commonwealth Board overseeing community colleges. The official opening ceremony was held in May 2010.

Currently, FTC has been working to extend the Greenway to Stafford Farm and then to Green Road.  We are also proposing to underwrite costs to continue the Warrenton loop circuit by building the Cedar Run Greenway under I29 to the Warrenton Reservoir.  We continue to seek out likely projects throughout the county for support and encouragement.