Southern Maryland's Three Notch Trail is a work-in-progress under the guidance of St. Mary's County and other stakeholders. When complete, the recreational trail will extend 28 miles along an abandoned Washington, Brandywine and Point Lookout Railroad right-of-way from Hughesville in Charles County south to Lexington Park in St. Mary's County. The future southern endpoint will be at the access road for Naval Air Station Patuxent River; the trail thus has the potential to be a vital active transportation corridor for the base's thousands of workers.
As of 2013, three portions of the Three Notch Trail are open for use. In the north, the oldest section of trail begins at Thompson Corner Road/State Route 236 in New Market and whisks trail users past the Charlotte Hall Library, St. Mary's County Welcome Center, Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and Northern County Senior Center. North of the center, the trail runs past residences in Charlotte Hall before ending at the intersection of Deborah Drive and Leonardtown Road/State Route 5. Local Amish and Mennonite residents are permitted to bring horses and buggies onto this section of the trail as an alternative to the congested local highways.
A second disconnected section of trail is open between the town of Laurel Grove and the southern edge of Mechanicsville. The route begins at Laurel Grove's John V. Baggett Park, which contains basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields and softball fields. North of the park, the trail is enveloped by wooded scenery for nearly the entire length of the trek to Point Lookout Road/SR 5.
The southernmost open section of trail begins at the Wildewood Shopping Center at Wildewood Boulevard in the town of California. Private developers constructed much of the route south of this point; trail users should be aware that this portion of the Three Notch Trail courses between commercial properties and crosses numerous busy parking lot access roads. The trail currently ends in the south at Chancellors Run Road/State Route 237.
Future construction will extend the southern end of the trail to Pegg Road at the entrance to NAS Patuxent River, although work is contingent on the delayed planning, design and engineering of the proposed FDR Boulevard. St. Mary's County has set 2014 as the target date for the opening of the section between Mechanicsville and New Market. When this gap is filled, the northern part of the trail will run for an uninterrupted 11 miles from Charlotte Hall to Laurel Grove. The large gap between the Wildewood Shopping Center in California and John V. Baggett Park in Laurel Grove will be completed as funding becomes available in 2015 and beyond.
Parking and Trail Access
Parking for the Three Notch Trail can be found along the northern section at the St. Mary's County Welcome Center, Charlotte Hall Library and Northern Senior Center. If you plan on using the middle section of the trail, park at Gospel Light Baptist Church in Mechanicsville or at John V. Baggett Park in Laurel Grove off SR 235. Parking is plentiful for the southern trail segment in any of the large retail parking lots lining SR 235.