Washington area bike trails: WB&A Trail from Bowie to Glenn Dale

A trail bridge spans Route 197 along the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Recreation Trail.
A trail bridge spans Route 197 along the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Recreation Trail. (Doug Kapustin For The Washington Post)
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Friday, April 30, 2010

Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Recreational Trail

Surface type: Paved.

Distance: 11.2 miles round trip.

Degree of difficulty: Easy.

Detailed map available at: http://www.pgparks.com/Your_Parks/Trails.htm.

Don't be turned off by the Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Recreational (WB&A) Trail's lengthy title -- it is actually pretty short, running 5.6 miles from Bowie to Glenn Dale. But what it lacks in length it makes up for by offering a quiet, flat ride with only a few road crossings. Families with young riders will appreciate the wide path, bridges over busy roads and a lack of crowds.

Begin the ride at the WB&A trail parking lot along Race Track Road near Kimberwick Drive in Bowie. With the exception of signs at the beginning and near the end of the trail, there is little to remind you that the trail was once a bustling corridor for commuting and commerce.

The WB&A trail gets its name from the railroad that ran along the site from 1908 to 1935. Besides commuters, the trains were also popular with Bowie Race Track patrons and bootleggers who used it to shuttle alcohol.

The first mile runs through a densely wooded area that borders the walled-off Berwyn Rod & Gun Club and then a horse farm.

The woods soon give way to neighborhoods, and the trail winds through quiet suburbs for the next three miles. Small parks, some with playgrounds and water fountains, dot this portion of the trail, giving families an excuse for extended breaks.

At mile 4.5 there is a marshy area that offers another perfect place to stop and stretch. Stroll along the wooden boardwalk that crosses the marsh and keep an eye out for beavers, frogs and turtles that call this little ecosystem home.

The last mile runs through a rural neighborhood before ending at Annapolis Road. It's time to head back.

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