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Rock Creek Park Trail

Rock Creek flows through Montgomery County, MD from the area near Laytonsville all the way to the Potomac in Georgetown. But for all intents and purposes, the creek starts at Lake Needwood, where a hiker/Biker trail follows the creek valley all the way to the DC line.

The trail is very well described at the Bike Washington site, but my comments are as follows:

I most typically ride this trail from South to North, primarily because it is convenient. However, a closely held secret I will tell NO ONE is that the trail is slightly up-hill as you ride north, so I get the "up-hill" part out of the way first, and then "coast" back. My typical ride (20 miles+) will start out at the softball field parking lot at Beach Drive and Pinehurst Parkway and continue along the Rock Creek trail, or off onto the Henson trail.

Some of the highlights along the way:

  • The bike trail winds around the ball fields and the Meadowbrook stables to East West Highway - be very careful here as there is dangerous traffic from all four directions.
  • The trail continues through a series of ball fields and underneath the old B&O trestle which carries the Capital Crescent Trail.
  • The trail goes through a shady wooded area before it takes a steep dip and rise to parallel Jones Mill Road/Stoneybrook Dr. for about 1/2 mile.
  • At the intersection of Stoneybrook Dr. and Beach Drive, the trail follows along side the road, but I prefer to ride on the road for a while.
  • From here to Garrett Park Road, there are several major intersections:
  • Kensington Parkway - watch for cross traffic.
  • Connecticut Avenue (RT. 185) - VERY Dangerous if you try to cross against the lights.
  • Cedar Lane - This is a very short light - unless you are a car and can trigger the sensors.
  • Grosvenor Lane - This area requires caution - cars will turn off of Rockville Pike (RT. 355) and assume they are still on it.
  • Knowles Ave - This is a longer light and the southbound side has a leading green - be careful!
  • Wexford Drive - Traffic enters from the right and may not see you.
  • Garrett Park Road - The on-road travel (for me anyway) ends here.A right turn will bring you to the Viers Mill Rec. Center.
  • At the Views Mill Rec. Center the trail runs down into the woods and then up a rather short but STEEP hill to the Dewey Park and then up to Randolph Road - As usual cross with the signals - Metro busses hurt when they hit you!
  • After Randolph Road the trail passes several soccer fields.
  • When you get to the second soccer field, the trail makes a sharp left over a foot bridge, and then a sharp right UP the side of a 1/4 mile hill and then DOWN a short but steep hill (The Bike Washington site call this hill the "Matterhorn") to follow the creek to Viers Mill Drive. If you make a right turn at the soccer field, you can follow the tail to the Matthew Henson Trail.
  • The GOOD NEWS here is that after the climb over the hill, and down along the parks, Montgomery County has completed a pedestrian bridge over Viers Mill Road and directly to the park above Baltic Ave.
  • The trail continues along the stream valley and crosses 3 roads along the way:
  • Baltimore Avenue - be careful here.
  • Under Norbeck Road (RT 28) - be careful here as there are no cars but there is a water fountain.
  • Avery Road - be careful here.
  • Southlawn Road - be careful here.

After Southlawn the trail becomes a little hillier and climbs a steep hill just before it ends at Lake Needwood.

All things considered (other than the Matterhorn) this is a very nice ride. I recommend a rear-view device of some sort if you ride on the road. Also, there are several places with water fountains and benches for a rest. And, if it so moves you, there are usually soccer games in progress on the weekend.

From my perspective, there are 3 things to be aware of on this trail:

  1. Cars - if you ride on the road;
  2. The road bikers who, when they swarm and form a peloton, forget how to call their passes and hog the road;
  3. DEER! - especially where you least expect them.

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