I wish I had had the chance to meet this lady, Ellen Pickering. I was reading a local bike website today, and came upon the mention of her passing away last May. Evidently, back in 1971, Ellen and another friend, Barbara Lynch, talked about how nice it would be to have a trail along the George Washington Parkway. Families could use it on the weekends, and bike commuters could use it to get to their jobs in D.C. They collected 700 signatures of interested local citizens and sent the signatures to Jack Fish at the National Park Service. The NPS offered to provide the gravel, if volunteers could be found to spread the gravel. No problem. :) In all, over four months, Pickering, Lynch and their 400 recruits shoveled 4,240 tons of gravel and contributed 5,350 hours of labor! Amazing. The first segment of 4.5 miles open in April of 1972, and by the next year, the trail was extended to Mt. Vernon.
The Mt. Vernon Trail is cited to be the nation's most popular recreational trail. :) I ride the trail every day to work, and also use it on weekends to get places - stores, the subway, connections to other trails - the trail is VERY useful to me. It does get a little crowded in nice weather, but during winter, I usually have it to myself. :)
Thanks, Ellen and Barbara, for all your hard work in making the Mt. Vernon Trail a reality for so many trail users (1 million annually!). :)