ROCK CREEK PARK:
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated:December 10, 2022
Length: Rock Creek Park Trail (Rays Meadow Park in Chevy Chase to Parkway Dr in Washington, DC); 11 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Paved trail and road sections with a downhill grade from Chevy Chase to Washington, DC.
Wisconsin Ave runs from I-495 in the north, all the way to the Potomac River south in Georgetown:
To start from Rays Meadow Park in Chevy Chase, MD [Northern End]; From the intersection of the East West Highway (Route 410) & CT Ave (Route 185) Head east along the East West Highway (Route 410) for 1 mile and turn left on Meadowbrook Lane. Come to Freyman Drive and head left. Park entrance will be on your left.
To start from Georgetown, Washington, DC from the Rock Creek Park; Thompson's Boat House parking lot [Southern End]; Wisconsin Ave runs from I-495 in the north, all the way to the Potomac River south in Georgetown. In Georgetown, Wisconsin Ave ends at Water & K Streets. Turn left (east) along K St, which travels underneath the elevated Whitehurst Fwy. When you see daylight (Freeway above turns) take a right towards Rock Creek Pkwy which heads south. Quickly come to an intersection where you'll turn right into the parking lot (Fee).
The Rock Creek Park Trail runs from Maryland down through Washington, DC. This is a paved trail with some on-road sections in Washington, DC (that are closed to traffic on weekends). Maryland's 14 mile long Rock Creek Trail is a collection of paved multi-use paths through southern Montgomery County. Although this area is mostly urbanized, the trail follows a mainly wooded route along the Rock Creek Stream Valley. The northern trail head is located in Lake Needwood Regional Park, just a few miles east of downtown Rockville, MD The trail ends at the Washington, DC border, where this trail picks up. In Washington, DC you can connect to both the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and Capitol Crescent Trail . For more information on the Maryland section visit; ROCK CREEK-MD. For information check out; WASHINGTON BIKE ASSOC. & ROCK CREEK PARK-NPS .
Starting from Rays Meadow Park in Chevy Chase, MD [Northern End];
Note; Heading North takes you underneath the Rock Creek Trestle and 13 miles to Lake Needwood Rock Creek Regional Park and the Northern Terminus of the Maryland Section; Rock Creek Park Trail. I have not checked out this section.
Heading South the Rock Creek Park Trail brings you to a crosswalk over the East-West Highway where the trail parallels Meadowbrook Lane. Pass by the Meadowbrook Stables and around Meadowbrook Park, where you'll find restrooms, a playground and sports fields. You cross over Rock Creek at 0.8 miles before coming to the Beach Drive parking lot at 1 mile. You'll cross over Rock Creek a couple more times before coming to the Valley Trail parking lot at 1.4 miles. Head right out to Beach Dr, then left where you'll pass a Map Board as you enter the Washington, DC Section; Rock Creek Park.
Note; As of 2022, 5 miles of Beach Drive are now closed year round to traffic, creating a wide, car-free zone. See Map Below.
Head past the gates along a CAR-FREE Beach Drive, which is downhill all the way to DC. Rock Creek follows along your left and woodlands surround you on rocky slopes. Very peaceful and scenic. At 2 miles you come to the intersection of West Beach Dr. Use Caution. Here you'll encounter a short 0.1 mile On-Road Section which is not closed to traffic. Past Wise Rd return to a CAR-FREE Beach Drive. At 2.7 miles pass by Picnic Grove #10. All picnic areas are numbered, so if you have the NPS Map (see below), you can easily determine your location. Another On-Road Section which is not closed to traffic to allow access to picnic areas. Picnic Groves #9 & #8. You'll pass by Rolling Meadow Bridge on your left as it crosses over the creek before coming to Bingham Dr on your right at 3.4 miles.
Note; CAR-FREE Bingham Drive is closed to traffic and will take you out to Oregon Ave.
here, a paved trail now
parallels Beach Dr (open to traffic) although its a bit narrow.
Pass by Picnic Grove #7. You cross over Rock Creek at a place called Milkhouse
Ford, pass by the Miller Cabin and just before Picnic
pass by some restrooms. After
traveling underneath Military
Rd, you come to Joyce Rd at 4.1 miles.
Right a paved trail will take you to the Western
Ridge Trail where you can access the Rock Creek Park Nature Center & Planetarium.
Past here continue south along CAR-FREE Beach Drive past Picnic Grove #5 and the US Park Police Station. This next section is what I consider the most scenic, as the road follows alongside the creek on your right. You'll pass by the Rapids Bridge and Picnic Grove #4 before crossing over the beautifully built Boulder Bridge at 5.2 miles. As the name suggests, it's built out of boulders. Pass by Picnic Grove #3 before coming to Broad Branch Rd at 5.7 miles. Head right to the Broad Branch Road parking lot and Picnic Grove #2A North where you'll pick up the paved Rock Creek Park Trail.
Nov. 2022, Rock Creek Park has rehabilitated and constructed more than 2.8 miles of the paved Rock Creek Park Trail in Washington, DC from M St in Georgetown to Broad Branch Rd. I haven't checked out this upgraded trail yet.
You come to the Peirce Barn & Mill site where you'll find a visitor contact station, restroom facilities, Picnic Grove #1 and the Peirce Mill parking lot. You cross a small bridge before traveling underneath the Tilden Street Bridge. Cross a bridge over Rock Creek, followed by Bluff Bridge. Travel underneath the Porter Street Bridge, followed by the Klingle Road Bridge at 6.7 miles.
Note; Right is the start of the paved Klingle Valley Trail .
Head left across the wooden arched Klingle Ford Bridge over Rock Creek. Here the trail travels between Beach Dr and Rock Creek. You come to the National Zoo entrance at 7.3 miles, where you can take a visit. See; NATIONAL ZOO. Come to the Beach Drive/Zoo Tunnel where the trail heads right around the tunnel alongside Rock Creek (Zoo Loop) returning you to the opposite end of the tunnel. Here a 110 ft pedestrian bridge crosses Rock Creek. You then travel underneath the very high stone arched Duke Ellington Memorial Bridge (Calvert St) at 8.1 miles followed by the William Howard Taft Bridge (CT Ave). Use Caution crosswalk over Shoreham Dr. Here the trail follows along an exercise course. Cross the Saddle Club Footbridge over Rock Creek where the trail now parallels Rock Creek Pkwy. Travel underneath another high stone arched Mass Ave Bridge. Cross Rock Creek again via the cement Devils Chair Bridge at 9.2 miles. Travel underneath the Q Street Bridge and Lauzun's Legion Bridge (P St) before crossing an on/off ramp. Use Caution. Here the trail becomes more urban.
Note; Right leads up to the paved Rose Park Trail . This trail travels above the Rock Creek Park Trail below.
Use Caution, you must cross another access ramp after traveling underneath the Pennsylvania Ave Bridge at 10.1 miles.
past this ramp look
to your right. There will be a brick lined path (sign is hard to see) connecting into your trail. This
is the start of the Chesapeake
& Ohio Canal .
After traveling underneath the Whitehurst Freeway Bridge (Route 29) you'll come to the start of the Capitol Crescent Trail on your right at 10.2 miles.
Next you pass by the Rock Creek Park; Thompson's Boat House parking lot on your right at 10.3 miles. Bike rentals are available here.
Note; The C & O Canal connected to Rock Creek which in turn flows into the Potomac River. If you follow the road past the parking lot and across Rock Creek you'll come to the Thompson Boat Center. On the SE side of this building you'll find where Rock Creek enters the Potomac River, along with the C&O Canal 0 MILE MARKER. I have not checked this out yet.
The trail now travels between the Potomac River and Rock Creek & Potomac Pkwy. Look left across the Pkwy where you'll spot the Watergate Complex. Looking across the Potomac River, you can also spot Roosevelt Island NP. Pass by the Kennedy Center before coming to the Roosevelt Bridge,
Note; A pedestrian bridge on your left takes across the Rock Creek & Potomac Pkwy where you can visit the KENNEDY CENTER , as well as, access the Roosevelt Bridge path over the river.
Next, travel underneath the Roosevelt Bridge and come to an overlook at 11 miles. Across the Potomac River, up on the hill, you can spot an American flag flying over the Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery. The trail here turns into a wide sidewalk where the Rock Creek & Potomac Pkwy heads left and Parkway Dr comes in from the right. I believe this is the official end of the Rock Creek Park Trail. If you continue alongside Parkway Dr you'll come to Lincoln Memorial Circle and the "Arts of Peace" statute.
Note; Left across Parkway Dr are paths that will take you to the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and many other sites.
Note; Right along the wide sidewalk takes you past the Watergate Steps to Arlington Memorial Bridge and the "Arts of War" statue. A path lets you cross the river via the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
Every time we visit DC, we bring our bikes. It's the best way to see all the memorials without trying to find a parking space or wearing out your legs. The Mall is very bike friendly.
CLICK HERE FOR ROCK CREEK PARK (DC SECTION) MAP
CLICK HERE FOR ROCK CREEK PARK (MD SECTION) MAP
BEFORE YOU SET OUT BE SURE TO READ THE
WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER
BIKE IT OR HIKE IT