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Two Wheels and a Good Route to Ride
County Bike Paths, Rural Roads Offer Plenty to Explore

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 18, 2006

There are plenty of designated bicycle paths in the area -- and Montgomery County has its fair share of them. Cycling is a popular sport here, even if the county is better known for its hideous automobile traffic.

From Sligo Creek to Laytonsville, around urban areas such as Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, out to the west and up north, there are plenty of places to get around by bike.

Perhaps the most popular ride in the area is the Capital Crescent Trail, which runs from the C&O Canal in Georgetown through Bethesda. The trail attracts cyclists by the hundreds on warm weekends. And like many paths around the county, it may soon be expanded.

There's an effort to link the trail from Bethesda to downtown Silver Spring, where it would connect with the Metropolitan Branch Trail. That route would run south through the District, past Fort Totten to Union Station. Once completed, the extended Capital Crescent Trail and the Metropolitan Branch Trail would create a loop around the District -- a Hiker-Biker Beltway of sorts.

The county's bike paths program is a busy one. Other projects include the Matthew Henson Trail, which would run through Aspen Hill, past Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue, all the way past Layhill Road. The North Bethesda Trolley Trail, which runs along the old trolley tracks between Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike, is to be extended north to the Twinbrook Metro stop and south to the National Institutes of Health campus.

In Rockville, the long-awaited Millennium Trail opened this month. The 10.6-mile path loops around the city.

But with large swaths of open spaces in the far west and north, where the air smells of manure, not exhaust, Montgomery also has plenty of open roads on which to ride. It's a great way to get to know the county. The view from a bike seat reveals an area still rich in rural heritage, with established historic neighborhoods and newer enclaves just rising from the ground.

There are countless ways to explore the county by bicycle. For details about county bike paths, go to http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov , click on "Departments," then "Public Works and Transportation" and "Sidewalks and Bikeways." Here, in the Extra, you'll find three suggestions, all of which can be expanded, or curtailed, to fit your level and mood. These routes are not necessarily the best the county has offer. They're not the easiest or the most challenging. They're fun (I rode all of them), and they offer some scenic places for you to explore.

If you have other cycling routes you would like to share, send them to me at davenportc@washpost.com .

Until then, happy cycling.

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