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The Sligo Creek Trail parallels the eponymous waterway from its confluence with the Northwest Branch in Hyattsville to just north of its origin in Wheaton in Montgomery County. Along the way, a number of footbridges cross back and forth over the creek, and picnic areas and playgrounds line the route.
Part of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, the trail is often referred to as one of the most scenic trails in the area. You’re welcome to reach your own conclusion through comparison—the Sligo Creek Trail connects to many other trails within the system. Begin your journey in Hyattsville, where the trail splits from the Northwest Branch Trail. Half a mile in, the path runs through Green Meadows Park, host to soccer fields, tennis courts and other athletic facilities. While the trail occupies a central location in the urbanized Maryland suburbs of the District of Columbia, you would never know it while passing through the quiet and heavily wooded landscape.
A handful of neighborhood connector trails provide easy access for residents along the Sligo Creek Trail's route. After crossing busy New Hampshire Avenue/State Route 650, the trail parallels Sligo Creek Parkway/SR 787. On a lovely day, you’re likely to see more trail traffic than vehicular traffic on the road.
In Takoma Park, the trail passes directly behind Washington Adventist Hospital, and farther north, past the property of Silver Spring's Holy Cross Hospital at Interstate 495 (the Beltway). After meandering a few more peaceful, tucked-away miles northward, the Sligo Creek Trail ends just south of the entrance to Wheaton Regional Park, a popular family destination featuring a large playground, ice rink, fishing lake, picnic shelters and even a merry-go-round and miniature train for the kids.
Parking for the Sligo Creek Trail can be found in Chillum at Green Meadows Park. Farther north, parking is available at the intersection of Sligo Creek Parkway and Houston Avenue in Takoma Park and just north of the intersection of Sligo Creek Parkway and Three Oaks Drive in Silver Spring. In Kemp Mill, park at the dedicated lot off Sligo Creek Parkway north of Dennis Avenue.
My partner and I walked the first section of the Sligo Creek Trail on New Year’s Day! We started near Arcola Elementary School, crossed University Ave and under the Beltway, and finished at Route 29. There is some nice signage along the way, including trail maps and some “interpretive trail” signs about wetlands, how rivers meander, etc. Since the trees were not leafed out it was easy to see the nearby houses in the neighborhood on one side and Sligo Parkway on the other. It was wonderful to follow the creek. Although the green buffer isn’t wide, I think it must be quite a different experience in full foliage, giving it a more “wooded” feeling.
At a moderate pace the first section took us about 1.5 hours, with a few stops to look at plants and trees, chat with other walkers, etc. It was a mild day but the trail was not crowded, I guess because folks weren’t up and out yet. We passed many other walkers and joggers, but saw very few bicyclists (other than tiny kids just learning how to ride), which was fine because we didn’t have to worry about getting mowed down.
When people say the “nicest part” of the trail is between University Ave. and New Hampshire I interpret that as code for the nicer, upper middle class neighborhoods in MoCo and corresponding parks budget. I’ve walked other trails in Prince Georges County (where I live) and don’t consider them less “nice” nor dangerous, though any trail walker needs to be alert in any case. The creek, of course, flows on its way and makes no distinction.
My goal is to do all of the Anacostia Tributary Trails (Sligo, Paint Branch, Northwest Branch) and eventually the main stem of the Anacostia down to Yards Park in DC.
the creek is absolutely beautiful. path is being renovated, but views override.
Treed trail along a creek in congested Montgomery County. It's a good thing.
At times beautiful, though unfortunately marred by the excessive traffic that travels along Sligo Creek Parkway. Some sections of Parkway are closed on Sundays, so this is a good time to use the trail. If you go during rush hour, your walk will be adulterated by endless traffic noises, and the parts of the trail that cross major roads will be tedious. The many bridge crossings are beautiful. I often see deer on this trail.
I would remind the review who complained about pedestrians that cyclists are supposed to yield to pedestrians, not the other way around. Also, even though signage isn't great, it's difficult to get off trail since it directly parallels the creek.
If it weren't for the blight of loud, dangerous traffic, this would be an A+ trail.
Many areas of the trail are in disrepair. There are a lot of tight spots where the trail is very narrow with signs bending over into the travel lane. If you're not paying attention, you could get whacked in the head or worse. They are in great need of signage. The trail is not clearly marked and we went off trail several times with out realizing. The pedestrians that use the trail are not considerate or just ignorant of moving over when bikes are passing. I lost count how many times the pedestrians were walking two across only allowing us to squeak by on an already narrow lane. I had a couple of close calls when a young lady insisted on walking on the wrong side and was head on with us cyclers and got mad at us! I don't think we'll do this trail again.
I've cycled in the metro area for 35 years, but discovered this trail only now while visiting a friend in Takoma Park. I agree with other reviewers that the best part of the trail is from New Hampshire Ave. to University Blvd (slightly uphill in this direction). Almost all the trail is in shade with sun only at the road crossings. The large road crossings are regulated by crossing signals (beware -- south of New Hampshire there are two major crossings "regulated" only by flashing lights. It serves as an opportunity for some motorists to honk and swerve around motorists who stop for cyclers).
The trail wasn't crowded on Labor Day Sunday so the narrowness was not a real issue. Even if it were more crowded it's not so narrow as to be dangerous. The twistiness of the trail is because of the numerous times the trail crosses Sligo Creek, which itself is quite lovely. All the bridge crossings are in good shape. And the right angle turns of many of these crossings means that cyclers are not going at top speed as you find on some other trails. Part of Sligo Creek Parkway is closed on Sundays now, which was a nice alternative to the path.
My only criticism is that because the trail right-angles often, and because there are many neighborhood entrances, it is easy to get off-trail since there is a lack of consistent signage.
Rode the entire trail today from Wheaton Regional Park to where it connects to the Northwest Branch Trail. I think the best part of the trail is between University Blvd. and New Hampshire Ave. I like the way the trail zig zags across Sligo Creek. Nice little bridges. Trail becomes more secluded beyond New Hampshire Ave. It's ok, but some riders may become nervous as the trail passes through more urban areas. I would say the trail is more suited for MTB or Hybrids as it can be a little bumpy at parts. Overall it was a good ride!
My wife and I have biked this trail many times with no incident, or close calls with bikers, hikers or cars. The winding trail takes us to Lake Artemesia in College Park...this section of the trail is much more desirable than going from Colesville Road north up to Wheaton Regional Park (which is far more congested with foot/bike traffic). We probably average about 7-8 mph on the trail, using our Trek hybrids...so biking speed will be a factor in your experience.
This trail is nicely surfaced with asphalt and seems in good condition. However, the trail is very winding and narrow, which combines in some places to make cycling on it quite dangerous and increasing the risk of collisions with other cyclists, walkers or even trees. Also, in the northern part of the trail the road intersections are very poorly designed - for example, at University Boulevard the cycle path ends at a pedestrian crossing, which is essentially a blind entrance on the northern side. This is extremely dangerous.
In my view the trail needs to be widened throughout, and where it crosses roads it should be treated as a road, not a sidewalk. As it is, the risk of conflicts with other users and with vehicles (both on the trail itself and at intersections) is high.
This trail is an easy, fun ride that is just about perfect. It meanders along Sligo creek, and is a refreshing change for those of us who are used to the linear rail trails. There are a couple of dangerous at-grade road crossings, so be super careful. There are no places for food or water, bring what you need. The trail goes through some iffy neighborhoods but I didn't have any problem.
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