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Pohick Creek
Other name(s) Tributary to Potomac River
Country United States
State Virginia
County Fairfax
Physical characteristics
Main source confluence of Rabbit Branch and Sideburn Branch
Fairfax, Virginia
262 ft (80 m)
River mouth Potomac River (Pohick Bay)
about 0.5 miles north of Springfield Farms, Virginia
0 ft (0 m)
Length 14.32 mi (23.05 km)
Discharge
  • Average rate:
    41.20 cu ft/s (1.167 m3/s) at mouth with Potomac River
Basin features
Progression southeast
River system Potomac River
Basin size 32.21 square miles (83.4 km2)
Tributaries
  • Left:
    Rabbit Branch
  • Right:
    Sideburn Branch
    Middle Run
    South Run
    Rocky Branch
Waterbodies Lake Royal
Bridges Commonwealth Boulevard, Guinea Road, Burke Lake Road, Old Keene Mill Road, VA 286, Pohick Road, I-95, Lorton Road, US 1, Old Colchester Road
Cross County Trail 7th Pohick Creek crossing 2021b
One of many crossings of the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail over Pohick Creek in Newington, Virginia

Pohick Creek is a 14.0-mile-long (22.5 km) tributary stream of the Potomac River in Fairfax County in the U.S. state of Virginia. It takes its name from the Pohick Native American tribe once prevalent in the area.

Pohick Creek forms in the vicinity of Burke and flows southeast past the western edge of Fort Belvoir to empty into the tidal Pohick Bay, which itself empties, along with Accotink Bay, into Gunston Cove, an embayment of the tidal Potomac River. Pohick Creek is a popular stream for whitewater kayaking, rafting, and paddling, providing Class II and III rapids along a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) stretch between Hooes Road (Virginia Secondary Route 636) and the Richmond Highway (U.S. Route 1) at Lorton.

Several tributaries of the Pohick Creek are impounded by dams constructed under the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act to prevent soil erosion and flooding. Originally eight dams were planned, but from 1970 to 1985, only six were actually built.

  • Lake Braddock (Pohick #7) was the first dam built in 1970, and impounds the Pohick Creek in Burke.
  • Huntsman Lake (Pohick #8) was built in 1973, and impounds the Middle Run in Springfield.
  • Lake Royal (Pohick #4) was completed in 1977, and impounds the Rabbit Branch in Burke above its confluence with the Sideburn Branch, where it forms Pohick Creek.
  • Lake Barton (Pohick #2) completed in 1978, impounds a tributary of the Sideburn Branch in Burke.
  • Woodglen Lake (Pohick #3), which impounds the Sideburn Branch in Fairfax, was completed in 1981.
  • Lake Mercer (Pohick #1) became in 1985 the final dam completed, impounding the South Run in Springfield.

Variant names

The following variant names have been listed on the Geographic Names Information System by the United States Geological Survey.

  • North West Branch
  • Poehick Creeke
  • Poheick Creek
  • West Branch

Course

Pohick Creek forms at the confluence of Rabbit Branch and Sideburn Branch in Burke, Virginia. Pohick Creek Creek then flows southeast, forming the border between Burke and West Springfield. After crossing the Fairfax County Parkway, it enters Newington and descends into a gorge where the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail follows the creek, crossing it eight times. It then passes into Lorton and crosses Interstate 95, the CSX RF&P Subdivision, and U.S. Route 1. It then meets the Potomac River in Pohick Bay about 0.5 miles north of Springfield Farms.

Watershed

Pohick Creek drains 32.21 square miles (83.4 km2) of area, receives about 43.5 in/year of precipitation, has a topographic wetness index of 409.88 and is about 31.0% forested.

Maps

Course of Pohick Creek (Potomac River tributary)
Course of Pohick Creek (Potomac River tributary)
Watershed of Pohick Creek (Potomac River tributary)
Watershed of Pohick Creek (Potomac River tributary)
MH1Anuclearpowerplant
Converted Liberty ship Sturgis with MH-1A nuclear power reactor, in Gunston Cove, 1967.
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