Capital Crescent Trail - Cycling

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The 7-mile Capital Crescent Trail is a crucial link between Montgomery County, Md. and Washington, D.C.

Written by

Jason Devaney


14.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

6.4 miles


2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 hours

30-60 minutes


All Seasons

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




The Capital Crescent Trail is a crucial link between Washington, D.C. and its northern suburb of Montgomery County, MD. The seven-mile paved trail, built on the Georgetown Branch rail line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, starts in Bethesda, Md. and ends in the Georgetown section of Washington. During the week it's packed with bike commuters heading into the city for work. On the weekends, cyclists are joined by runners, walkers, and even rollerbladers out for a workout.
The trail is gradually downhill into the city, dropping from about 350 feet above sea level down to 30. 

What Makes It Great

The beauty of the Capital Crescent Trail lies in its proximity to the nation's capital. With so many people commuting into the city every day, the trail offers a nice solution to driving through traffic to the office. The same holds true for reverse commuters who live in Washington and commute to Bethesda.

The 10-foot wide paved route began as a train line, which opened for business in 1910 carrying freight. Trains stopped traveling on the route in 1985, and the line was turned into the trail in increments before being completed in 1998.

Today, it's one of the most widely used trails for bike commuting into Washington. Starting at Bethesda, the trail cuts a wide arc to the southwest before turning southeast as it nears the Potomac River. The trail shadows the river and the C&O Canal towpath from there until it ends on Water Street in Georgetown.

Rail trails are fairly flat in general, and this one is no exception. So you won't have to work too hard back and forth to Washington.

From Bethesda to nearby Silver Spring is a four-mile extension of the trail with a crushed stone surface. Future plans call for this to be paved as well.

Who is Going to Love It

Bike commuters who live in the Bethesda, Md. area use the trail on a daily basis to get to work. With an extensive network of other trails in the region, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting to the Capital Crescent Trail on your bike.
On the weekends, use the Capital Crescent Trail as a way to get in and out of D.C. for some sightseeing. What better way to experience what Washington has to offer than on two wheels?

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The seven-mile paved section of the Capital Crescent Trail starts at Bethesda Avenue near Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, while the four-mile extension of crushed stone starts at Stewart Avenue near Brockville Road in Silver Spring. The trail ends near Georgetown Waterfront Park.

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Capital Crescent Trail - Cycling

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