Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, VA contains trails to please most mountain bikers. Beginners can find areas of gravel and less-techy sections to work on skills and plenty of trails to move up to as their skills improve. More advanced riders can push the pace on some chunky sections and even find a few natural surfaces that are huck-worthy.
Within the park are several gravel maintenance roads connecting and intersected by single track. While it is possible to put together a nice circuit of 6-8 miles, the trails are not named or clearly marked, so it is possible and common to end up backtracking a bit. The trails are interesting enough that you won’t be bored repeating a section and they definitely ride differently in opposite directions. The change of seasons brings change of conditions at Lake Fairfax, too.
If you think you’ve experienced all there is to the Lake Fairfax trails, get out there in all seasons. In winter, lack of vegetation opens up site lines and lets you choose lines you may have never noticed. In spring, the tackiness from the freeze/thaw cycle gets you some extra grip in the corners but some still moist rocks and roots add to the challenge. Come summer the leaf-covered trees and shrubs reduce visibility forcing you into quicker decisions and reactions to the trails and terrain. Plus, the higher temperatures mean you’ll feel the effort in climbs that seemed easier in cooler weather and, in long dry spells, the trails become hard packed and dusty. And, in fall, the leaves drop from the trees resulting in a slippery surface and excellent camouflage for those baby head rocks waiting to bite your tires. Remember, Lake Fairfaix has a pump track and is connected to other area trails on all sides. You can easily combine Lake Fairfax and a ride out to the Potomac River along Difficult Run or branch off to other trails.There are links to Lake Fairfax maps below, but keep this in mind: it is hard to get lost at Lake Fairfax but it is also hard to know exactly where you are. The trails are not named, not clearly signed and have many intersecting points. It is best to explore and try different combinations of turns and routes until you come up with a circuit you can call your own. After several rides at Lake Fairfax we still hesitate at some intersections and have those “Oh THAT’s where we are” moments.
With so many options, Lake Fairfax is a great ride destination on its own; combined with post ride refreshments at nearby Lake Anne Brew House, this becomes a Trails2Ales Gold Star ride.
Lake Anne Brew House is located on a man-made lake in Lake Anne Village Center Plaza. There is a traffic signal and a sign pointing to Lake Anne Village at Village Drive off Baron Cameron Avenue which is the way you’d approach by car. Be sure to park in the commercial parking area and not in the residential parking. By bike, exit Lake Fairfax Park on Lake Fairfax Drive. Turn left on Hunt Club Road and continue on to North Shore Drive all the way to Lake Anne Village Center.
Owner Melissa Romano is an architect by trade and she clearly put her skill to work in designing Lake Anne Brew House. It is not a large space and she gets the most of out of it, combining high ceilings, plenty of windows and light colors to create an inviting and warm atmosphere.There are a few seats around the small, and only, bar where you can enjoy your drinks and chat with the welcoming staff. In our visits we have found the staff to be knowledgeable about what’s on tap and willing to answer questions. Other seating options include window-side stools, low sofas and an outdoor deck with tables and chairs.
For food, you’ll be lucky to get fresh Nordic Knots – soft pretzels served fresh on site. ‘Lucky’ because on weekend mornings the pretzels are a draw on their own, bringing in families with young children just for pretzels…though there are definitely some moms and dads taking advantage of the moment to get a choice beverage for themselves. If Nordic Knots aren’t an option, the brewery has a supply of craft potato chips for sale or you can bring in some food of your own. On Saturdays from April through December the Reston Farmer’s Market is open 8a-Noon and provides food options within walking distance of Lake Anne Brew House.
As discussed in the podcast, LABH is a nano-brewery. They have flagship beers and rotate in a selection of seasonal and specialty brews. What is available when you get there is subject to demand and supply. If you have your mind set on specific beer you can always call and ask about its status. And, subscribe to the LABH mailing list and Facebook page. That way, you will be sure to know what’s on tap and what’s new.
If they have a release coming up that piques your interest, don’t sit on it. Their releases don’t remain in the keg for long. When you find a beer you really enjoy, the best bet for bringing some home is a growler fill. LABH will fill your own growler or you can buy one from them.
In addition to beer, LABH offers kombucha, a mash-up they call Quayside Kombucha Shandys (we haven’t tried them so can’t comment), NITRO Cold-Brew Coffee (very nice after a summer run/ride!), and craft sodas. Because brewer/co-owner/Melissa’s husband Jason Romano is an Electrical Engineer and and brewing aficionado, he made sure the brewery includes a nitro line, so be sure to check if anything is ‘on nitro’ when you’re there.
With its location along a lake and proximity to a farmer’s market and shopping, variety of beers, non-alcoholic beverages and fresh-baked Nordic Knots, Lake Anne Brew House is a great spot for everyone craft beer enthusiasts, people interested in checking out the craft beer scene and families who need a kid-friendly destination for a quick break from the routine. For the mountain biking beer enthusiast it’s a perfect Lake Fairfax post-ride gathering spot.
Give it a shot: head to Lake Fairfax, explore the trails; head to Lake Anne Brew House, explore the ales. If you do, let us know what you think in the Comments.
Ride Fast – Drink Slow!