CAPITOL CRESCENT TRAIL LETTERBOX:

BETHESDA, MARYLAND-WASHINGTON, DC

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Planted:                 June 5, 2002

Length:                  Capitol Crescent Trail; 8 miles

                                Georgetown Branch Trail; 3 miles

                                Rock Creek Park Trail (from the Georgetown Branch Trail to the Potomac River); 10 miles

                                Fletcher’s Boathouse to Letterbox; ½ mile

Difficulty:             Easy. Paved surface with a downhill grade from Bethesda to Georgetown.

                                Moderate. Paved surface with an uphill grade from Georgetown to Bethesda.

Directions:

Wisconsin Avenue runs from I-495 in the north, all the way to the Potomac River south in Georgetown. In Bethesda, at the junction of Wisconsin and Bethesda Avenues is a metered parking lot  where you can access both the Capitol Crescent Trail and the Georgetown Branch Trail. The Capitol Crescent Trail heads southwest, away from downtown, while the Georgetown Branch Trail heads northeast across Bethesda Ave through the Wisconsin Ave Tunnel. In Georgetown, take Wisconsin Ave south to the end and turn right. You’ll be underneath Route 29. There is some metered parking here. Continue underneath the elevated highway, west, until you cross under the Francis Scott Key Bridge where the paved trail starts. To access Fletchers Boathouse, simply follow Canal Rd north along the Potomac River for a couple of miles and the parking lot will be on your left. Bike, canoe and boat rentals are available here.

To access the Trail via the Metro; Take the Red Line up to Bethesda Station. Take the elevator up to street level (bikes must use the elevators) and take a right down Montgomery Lane. Turn left on Woodmont Ave which will bring you to the junction of Bethesda Ave. The metered parking lot is across the street, while the trail through the Tunnel is to your left. Look for the green trail signs. Its only a little over a ¼ mile from the Metro to the trail. For other Metro information visit; METRO  .

The Capitol Crescent Trail runs along the route of the old Georgetown Spur, a B & O Railroad Line completed in 1910, from Georgetown to Silver Spring. Service was discontinued in 1985. The trail is paved from Georgetown, where it runs parallel to the Potomac River and C & O Canal Towpath, then curves inland to Bethesda. From Bethesda towards Silver Spring the trail consists of stone dust and is named the Georgetown Branch Trail. Only 3 miles of this trail has been completed. In between, the Wisconsin Ave Tunnel connects the two trails. The Rock Creek Park Trail runs from Maryland down through DC and is accessible from the Georgetown Branch Trail . This is a paved trail with some on-road sections in DC (that are closed to traffic on weekends). You can ride this trail from the Georgetown Branch Trail all the way to the Potomac River for a distance of 10 miles. You also pass the start of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal that will bring you back to the Capitol Crescent Trail if you wish to do a loop ride.  For more information on this ride See; Rock Creek Park. For more information check out; CAPITOL CRESCENT TRAIL , BIKE WASHINGTON or WASHINGTON BIKE ASSOC. . If you want to do these trails without any hills, you can start up in Bethesda. Then simply take the metro, along with your bike, back to Bethesda. Or, take the metro up to Bethesda and leave your car in DC. For more information about biking the Metro, check out the links above. 

Note: The MTA has presented plans to convert the old Georgetown Branch rail bed into a transit line running from Bethesda through Silver Spring. This would require the re-routing of the current Georgetown Branch Trail.

Starting in Bethesda; Near the metered parking lot, there is a large trail map, benches and a water fountain. The Capitol Crescent Trail heads southwest, away from downtown, while the Georgetown Branch Trail heads northeast across Bethesda Ave through the Wisconsin Ave Tunnel. There are mileage markers along the trail, but they start from Silver Spring. 

The Capitol Crescent Trail has a slight downhill gradient all the way. After 2 ¾ miles you cross a bridge over Mass Ave and come to a spur trail on your left.

Note; This spur trail brings you down to Mass Ave and the start of the Little Falls Stream Valley Trail which follows the Little Falls Branch from Massachusetts Ave down to MacArthur Blvd.

At 3 miles you pass through the Dalecarlia Tunnel, a Roman Arch brick tunnel, 18 feet wide by 340 feet long, built in 1910. As you go through the tunnel you’ll see "step backs", recessed areas that allowed people to avoid being hit by a train if they were caught in the tunnel. A ¼ mile after passing through the tunnel you come to another bench area with a water fountain and map. You then cross over an iron bridge at the Washington Aqueduct. The downhill gradient becomes a bit steeper at this point. Soon you will start to parallel the C & O Canal to your right. After 4 ½ miles you pass over Canal Rd and the canal on an old railroad trestle. After crossing over, a dirt trail on the right goes down to the canal trail. For the Letterbox, take this trail part way down, but do not cross under the bridge. Instead, turn left at the bottom of the stairs and spot two trees growing from one, just off the path. In the hollow base, under a rock and board is the Capitol Crescent Trail Letterbox. Continuing along the trail another ½ mile brings you to Fletcher’s Boathouse. Here, you can access the C & O Canal Towpath, rent bikes, canoes or boats and get refreshments. The trail parallels the C & O Canal on its left and the Potomac River on its right, for about a mile. It then pulls away from the canal and heads down along the river. After about 7 ¼ miles the paved trail ends at Water St. Travel on-road along Water St through a stone arch tunnel and underneath the Key Bridge and the elevated Route 29 Highway. You'll then pick up the paved trail on your right as it travels through Georgetown Waterfront Park alongside the Potomac River. This will bring you to the Rock Creek Park Trail after 8 miles.

HH

CLICK HERE FOR MAP

CLICK HERE FOR BETHESDA STATION METRO MAP

 

LETTERBOX LAST VERIFIED ON

FEBRUARY 23, 2013

TO EMAIL A VERIFICATION

letterbox@snet.net 

 

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