A narrow corkscrew of a gravel road, closely lined by trees, opening up into Loudoun’s own Big Sky Country: I guess that’s the way I always think of Paxson Road. When I’m not driving it, that is; behind the wheel of a very ungainly delivery truck- say on a waning afternoon in late December when the lane’s ice-covered – I try to think of nothing at all – except staying between the ditches, that is. But, for the sunny Sunday afternoon traveler at most times of the year, Paxson’s a very inviting – if not intoxicating little road- running for a half-dozen miles or so – from Snickersville Turnpike in the west to the end of State maintenance in the east – a short way’s past Silcott Springs Road.
I say this, because the casual visitor to this scenic byway will find many – often surprising – distractions along their journey: historic homes, picturesque farms, open fields, wooded glens and lots of panoramas – not to mention cows and horses, deer, turkey, and the seemingly ubiquitous squirrels. Enjoy ’em when they pop into view – but watch the road – or you may miss the ruts – or that sharp curve before the hill – or the little bridge west of Airmont Road – or you may NOT miss one of the many mature tree trunks studding the roadside. If you’re allured by the romance of the bucolic setting, pull over and set for a spell – perform a reality check – and then move on – slowly – you don’t want to run into that tractor coming over the next rise. And be prepared to scrape some shrubbery or force a wheel onto the shoulder if you meet a school bus or other “oversize” vehicle along this little lane.
Now, if you do decide to take a drive along Paxson Road, allow enough time for each direction; I’ve found such a variety of topography and scenery, that it can almost appear like two different routes – depending on your line of travel – east or west.
I’ve already told the story – in my weekly news column on our webpage – about getting stuck on the hill just west of Black Oak Road – in about two feet of snow, I might add – in a vehicle without chains or ‘posi-traction,’ much less four-wheel drive. I knew I was in trouble when I was told the two truck driver didn’t want to attempt a rescue, because he didn’t want to get stuck. The tow truck driver! Well, one of the truly kind residents noticed my plight and helped me get the thing out of the roadside rut and back on delivery. I still had a heck of a time just getting up that hill, but once I was moving, there was no stopping. Well, you know what I mean. By that time, the office had called me back to civilization- the rest of Paxson Road’s mail could wait until the next day.
But, thanks to the properties of good old Virginia clay, even a rainy summer’s day can turn into a mud wrestling contest on these little dirt roads; think of it as really dirty, runny ice, and you’ll have the right idea. Probably not the best conditions to take your date out in that new “Beemer.”
Yeah, I would suggest a nice, dry, fall afternoon– maybe an hour or two before Sundown – you should have the road pretty much to yourself (other than the animals) and your own ruminations. First-timers would be advised to start out at the west end- because the eastern part just pretty much ends with nothing but barely enough room for a turn-around: you can’t get there from anywhere else.
And don’t forget to head back all the way to Snickersville – you’ll notice stuff you hadn’t even seen on the first leg – especially if you’re the one behind the wheel.
And remember: the residents along Paxson like their little rural road – with its very slow speed signs.
Lots of places in Loudoun County to drive fast: Paxson Road just isn’t one of them.
And speaking of that, be careful crossing Silcott Springs Road: drivers like to move on that one.
Other than that, say “Hey” to the horses and you should be OK.