The W&OD railroad used to run from Alexandria to Bluemont, Virginia; but the trail only runs from the Arlington/Alexandria boundary to Purcellville. At one point in the late 80's-early 90's it looked like the trail might extend along the remaining west end of the ROW all the way to Bluemont and the Appalachian Trail.
When the trail was "completed" in 1988, the park authority stated that they had "plans to extend the W&OD seven miles farther to Bluemont and the Appalachian Trail." The section from Purcellville to Bluemont was admittedly a bit different from the rest of the railroad, as it had been abandoned in 1938, 30 years before the rest of the line was. Nonetheless, in 1988 they stated that
The park authority plans to extend its W&OD Trail to Bluemont and the Appalachian Trail, which follows the border between Loudoun County and Clarke County.
Two years later, the Park Authority stated that they hoped to have the seven mile extension completed in 3 years.
Park Authority Executive Director Darrell Winslow said money may not be the biggest hurdle in making the plan a reality. Rather, finding land for the skinny extension -- an eight-foot-wide paved path and room on either side for drainage -- could be the toughest challenge, he said.
The Park Authority began trying to complete the W&OD trail by asking the Loudoun government to amend its Rural Land Management Plan to indicate that the extension might be built from Purcellville to the Clarke County line, west of Bluemont.
That request received unanimous approval from the Planning Commission on Oct. 24 and has been forwarded to the county Board of Supervisors. In addition, the Park Authority must submit detailed plans and receive a commission permit -- similar to a permit issued to a public utility -- along with any other permits required by the Loudoun zoning administrator, county officials said.
Park Authority officials first must decide where they want the trail extension to go. The linear park follows the right of way of the defunct Washington & Old Dominion Railway between Shirlington, near Interstate 395, and Purcellville. But the portion of the train line's old path that is west of Purcellville is privately owned and probably unavailable for the trail extension, park officials said.
The agency said it may try to find a new path through the rolling hills or, more likely, it may try to persuade the Virginia Department of Transportation to let it use part of the right of way along Route 7, which connects Purcellville and Bluemont.
The Park Authority has budgeted about $168,000 to acquire land and has pegged roughly $300,000 to build the extension over several years.
The agency hopes to extend the paved trail from its current terminus in the center of Purcellville through the village of Bluemont and to the top of the Blue Ridge at Route 601. Winslow said a short unpaved footpath would extend from that point to the Appalachian Trail
It's not clear what happened (perhaps Allen Muchnick knows?) but obviously the W&OD was never extended. Still, there is reason to keep hope alive. The extension made it into Loudoun County's 2003 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and Virginia's 2007 Outoors Plan was mentioned as recently as 2012 by the County's Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Board (though the typo in the presentation title doesn't instill confidence).