Stafford Farm Trail

StaffordStart: Lord Fairfax Community Connector/Stafford Farm Trail
Distance: 2.9 mile out and back
Parking: Parking lot at Lord Fairfax CC and trailhead on Meetze Road
Refreshments: Old Town Warrenton
Pets: Under control pets welcome
Difficulty: Easy; some gentle slopes and some muddy or overgrown areas
Summary:

The Lord Fairfax Community College Connector Trail and the Stafford Farm Trail are connected and it makes sense to do them both at once. This level walk is an out and back trip of about 3 miles taking in a nice meandering course between corn fields and wetlands, skirting under a copse of trees, fording a ‘hardened’ cattle crossing, and examining a picturesque barn and silo. At the far end, there is another kiosk and a small parking area. From this unassuming nexus will presently extend the Warrenton Greenway. There are pretty flowers, mysterious cord fields, wetland vegetation, and wildlife.

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To park, take the road to the Lord Fairfax Community College by the town dump and turn up College Street. At the back of the parking lot is a kiosk marking the trailhead. The trail here is gravel and goes off to the left on a fenced embankment. The Connector trail continues for about 1/3 mile where the transition to the unpaved Stafford Farm trail is marked by another kiosk. Continue to the right and proceed by the edge of a wood with a corn field on your left. In summer, the corn is high and there have been stories of mysterious crop circles appearing in the night and the ghostly laughter of feral children hidden in the stalks around dusk. Do not let this bother you but continue to the edge of the field at about 0.8 miles. The trail, well-marked with brown staves, veers off to the right into open wetlands.

There is a small creek with a wooden pedestrian bridge and some power lines overhead as you come to the edge of a line of trees. The path turns right and up into the trees paralleling the often muddy dirt road which runs below. Take the high road following the staves and appreciate the cool gloom under the canopies of walnut and oak. Arrive in Scotland first.  At about 1 mile the path turns left down out of the trees and proceeds into the surrounding fields and leads you to a Stream Protection Demonstration Project where a stream bank has been ‘hardened’ to accept the vigorous cow crossings while resisting erosion. Depending on the state of the pedestrian bridge, which tends to wash away, you may also be herded across the water at this point. Thomas Nagal, the American Philosopher, posed a famous question about the nature of conscious experience in his essay, “What is it like to be a bat?” You can mull the implications of this as you consider being a cow crossing the cattle ford and keeping a sharp eye out for that succulent green clover.

The Stafford Experimental Farm should be ahead of you with the barn and silo visible above the field. The trail skirts it to the right and continues among the gardens to the kiosk near the road. Here there is a small parking area off Meetze Road to the right and a short section of right of way to the left. This is where the Warrenton Greenway should follow the railway bed through the area toward its station at Calverton. FTC is working towards getting this project underway. Across Meetze, the county plans on putting a park and ballfields. After a look around, retrace your steps to the parking lot at Lord Fairfax Community College.

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PDF map of this trail.
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PDF topo map of this trail.
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