Monday, April 18, 2011

Capital Crescent Trail tour

We've heard a lot about the other CCT, the Capital Crescent Trail (as opposed to the Cross County Trail in Fairfax) but have never ridden the entire length of the trail. Today seemed like a good day to check it out.

We started in Reston and decided to take a few miles off of the round trip by using Metro from Vienna to Silver Spring and starting at the furthest east end of the trail. Thinking that Metro wouldn't be very crowded at 11am we were surprised to see the station packed with people, mostly young people. Oh yeah, Spring break! With our bikes we squeezed into one of the cars near the end of the train and headed to Metro Center. As an aside, the bike parking on the north side of the Vienna station was completely full, with 2 bikes at every U rack and a few bikes locked to light poles.

Fortunately the Red Line train to Silver Spring was not crowded. We rode around downtown Silver Spring while Kerie tried to find landmarks from her youth. It wasn't easy given all of the development that has occurred there since the arrival of Metro, but she finally found the former locations of The Hecht Co., JC Penney, and the Hot Shoppe.

The Silver Spring metro station has probably the worst bike parking of any Metro station I've seen. There was one bent U rack with a carcass of a bike locked to it, and a few other bikes locked to the nearby railing. Pitiful.

It's an easy ride from the station to the start of the Trail using Second Ave, Grace Church Rd and other side streets. The route was well-marked as long as you know that the CCT is called the Georgetown Branch Trail at this point.

The trail from Silver Spring to Bethesda is a packed stone dust/gravel surface that was in good shape. We stopped in Bethesda at Elm St Park which is adjacent to the trail and had an excellent lunch from The Brown Bag located nearby.

The current CCT starts at Woodmont and Bethesda Ave where it is a wide, paved trail. Two cyclists with camping gear just happened to be pondering what to do next when I took the photo at the left. From Bethesda to Georgetown the trail follows a green corridor that hides the fact that you're traveling so close to the city. We were a little late to see the cherry blossoms near River Road. At Fletcher Boat House the Potomac River almost reached the building, with huge logs floating by, all a result of the recent heavy rains. We learned late that parts of Georgetown were flooded today.

We didn't get that far, stopping just past Key Bridge to watch debris float by on the river. Then we headed up to M St to get to the wide sidewalk on Key Bridge and crossed over to catch the Custis Trail in Rosslyn and on to the W&OD Trail and back home. From Silver Spring to Reston was a total of 35 miles. If you haven't ridden the Capital Crescent Trail, it's highly recommended but we suggest going on a weekday as we've heard it's as crowded as the W&OD Trail on a nice weekend.

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There is much more bike parking at the opposite entrance of the Silver Spring Metro on the other side of Colesville Rd. I think the lack of parking on the side you were on was mainly due to the construction of the new transit center. There were bike lockers that used to be around that entrance, but were moved a bit farther away when the construction started.
After I wrote the entry I figured there had to be better bike parking somewhere else. That's good to know there's parking at the other entrance. Thanks for the info.

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