Editors' pick

Capital Crescent Trail/Georgetown Branch Trail

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Editorial Review

Features: biking, running, walking, in-line skating and cross-country skiing

Information: Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (202-234-4874) provides maps

Miles: 11.2, (including the Georgetown Branch Trail, which runs for four miles east of Wisconsin Avenue), from Georgetown to Silver Spring

Terrain: Capital Crescent is paved; Georgetown Branch Trail is crushed gravel

The Capital Crescent Trail feels remarkably free of traffic and development throughout most of its seven miles despite its location in Northwest Washington and Bethesda. The paved trail begins in Georgetown (under the Whitehurst Freeway at the western end of Water Street NW), providing excellent views of the Potomac River for a few miles. Just after crossing into Montgomery County it enters a 1910 brick railroad tunnel, passes the Dalecarlia Reservoir and Little Falls Park and finally empties into downtown Bethesda (two blocks west of Wisconsin Ave.). For a relatively short trail in a highly populated area, the Capital Crescent is wonderfully rustic and varied. Despite the hordes of people using the trail every weekend, it is worth visiting and revisiting.

The Capital Crescent Trail becomes the Georgetown Branch Trail at Wisconsin Avenue, connected by a wide, well-lit tunnel underneath the busy street. The Georgetown Branch Trail's crushed gravel surface prohibits inline skating and the skinniest bicycle tires. A trolley line is planned to run on this route, but at present it is hotly contested as the right-of-way runs through expensive properties, including the Columbia Country Club. While the trail isn't as scenic as the previous seven-mile Capital Crescent, it's a pleasant enough ride and it connects to Rock Creek Park in Silver Spring.

-- Stephen Murdoch

Note: Park on Water Street in Georgetown or in the lot at the corner of Bethesda Avenue and Arlington Road in Bethesda.