The Capital Crescent Trail is one of several trails in and around Washington, D.C. that form an extensive network of paved and off-road routes for runners and other outdoor enthusiasts.
What Makes It Great
There are two segments of the trail: a seven-mile paved section that begins in Bethesda, Md., just over the northern border with Washington, and a four-mile extension made mostly of crushed stone that extends the trail out to nearby Silver Spring, Md. The trail ends in Georgetown, nestled in the western part of the nation's capital.
The trail is built on the Georgetown Branch rail line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and was completed in 1998, although future plans call for the crushed stone section to be paved as well.
The trail is gradually downhill into the city, dropping from about 350 feet above sea level down to 30, and is packed during the week with many cyclists commuting into the city for work. Runners also frequent the trail during the week, especially during lunch hours for a quick midday run, but the trail really comes alive on the weekends. Runners from neighborhoods lining the trail flock to it to get in their long run or to run into the city to do some sightseeing and grab a cup of coffee. Really though, runners of all levels can enjoy the trail.
Measuring 10 feet wide, the paved portion of the Capital Crescent Trail can be broken up into two sections. The first half runs southwest from Maryland before changing course as it nears the Potomac River. From there, the trail bends to the southeast and follows the river down into the heart of Georgetown, where it ends just after the Key Bridge.
If you plan to run to the end, Georgetown has several cafes for grabbing a post-run coffee or breakfast. There are also a few running shops if you need anything running-related.
Like the other trails in the busy and car-heavy D.C. Metro area, the Capital Crescent Trail gives people an option of getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery by foot.
Who is Going to Love It
Serious runners training for a race, as the trail — although packed with other runners, walkers, cyclists, and rollerbladers on the weekends — offers a car-free sanctuary via a thin piece of asphalt that stretches into the city.
Newer runners or people looking to get some exercise will also feel right at home on the Capital Crescent Trail.
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.