On Thursday morning, officials from Montgomery Parks and Pepco, gathered with trail enthusiasts beneath the powerlines in Darnestown to break ground on a new six-mile, natural surface, multi-use trail that will connect the Muddy Branch Stream Valley to South Germantown Recreational Park.
The trail is being created and maintained through a collaboration among Montgomery Parks, Pepco and the Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE). Pepco is the landowner of the trail, and will serve as a design and permitting partner; Montgomery Parks will construct and patrol the trail; and MORE will maintain it.
“For years no one believed we could make this happen – but the dedicated work of trail advocates and Pepco’s commitment to seeing this project through means that bicyclists, hikers, runners and equestrians will have access to six miles of new recreational trails,” said Casey Anderson, Chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board and Vice Chair of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. “These trails will link users to our own parks trail system and other important destinations, including employment centers, shopping and transit. This project sets an example for how community advocates and the public and private sectors can work together successfully and I’m grateful to everyone who played a role in making this project a reality.”
Building more trails for residents to use has been a priority of Montgomery Parks, according to Montgomery Parks Director Michael Riley. ““It will provide so many benefits of connectivity, helping people get from point A to point B, to and from schools. It’ll provide a venue for families to come out and exercise and recreate and experience nature,” he told the group of trail supports from all over the county who braved the cold wind atop the hill where the ceremony was held.
Pepco Region President Donna Cooper told the group of trail enthusiasts, “This will mean so much to the county, the residents, from an environmental perspective and from a recreational perspective as well as from an aspect of just being out here and enjoying the open space.”
The new trail is a direct result of the Pepco Excelon merger. In 2015, Montgomery County Council asked the Maryland Public Service Commission to consider allowing the County to create recreational trails along utility rights-of-way—the clearings where power lines run —as a condition of approving the $6.83 billion merger.
“Someday I think there will be a hugely popular trail corridor right here, both paved and natural trails, and all kinds of uses, including commuters choosing to get out of their cars,” said the Director of Maryland Trails Advocacy for (MORE) Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, Dave Magill. “We are more than proud to be bringing this vision to life.”
MORE (The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization representing thousands of area mountain bikers. Founded in 1992, MORE maintains more than 400 miles of natural-surface trails in 41 state and county parks throughout the region. MORE members contribute more than 6,000 volunteer hours annually and have constructed nearly 100 miles of new, sustainable trail. The club also leads hundreds of rides each year at local parks, ranging from beginner to advanced levels.
A large portion of the trail is expected to be complete this spring, completion of the entire trail is expected to take about a year, dependent upon funding. This six-mile trail will serve as an interim route until a 13-mile paved trail can be built between the South Germantown Recreational Park and Cabin John Regional Park at a later date.
Top: Montgomery Parks, Pepco, and MORE representatives break ground on the new six-mile section of trails which will run in the right-of-ways beneath the Pepco power lines from the Travilah Road in Potomac to the South Germantown Recreation Park in Germantown.
Next: The new Pepco Trail will offer off-road bikers and hikers some stunning views as it runs through Seneca Creek State Park.
Next: Some of the scenery which will always off-road enthusiast along the Pepco Trail. Photo courtesy Patrick Benko.
Next: The map of the soon to be constructed Pepco Trail. Courtesy Google Maps.
Photos by Germantown Pulse, unless otherwise noted.