Metropolitan Branch Trail

District of Columbia, Maryland

Metropolitan Branch Trail Facts

States: District of Columbia, Maryland
Counties: Montgomery, Washington
Length: 8 miles
Trail end points: Union Station (Washington, DC) and Silver Spring, MD
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015477
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Walking

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Metropolitan Branch Trail Description

Following the route of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Metropolitan Branch rail line, the Met Branch Trail is a busy urban rail-with-trail that shares a corridor with Metro's Red Line, MARC commuter service, CSX freight trains and Amtrak. Currently, the trail is a mix of on-road and off-road facilities.

Beginning at Union Station with a wide sidepath along 2nd Street, NE, the trail becomes an off-road pathway for 1.5 miles between L Street, NE, and Franklin Street. Via grade-separated crossings of Rhode Island, New York and Florida avenues, this section of the trail provides a link between many of Northeast D.C.'s neighborhoods, including Brookland, Eckington, Edgewood and NoMa.

Continuing north, the trail is routed on 8th Street, NE, and along a sidepath on John McCormack Road near Catholic University. From here, the Met Branch follows a signed on-street bike route to Takoma Park, where a small section of off-road trail crosses the border between the District and Maryland.

Future plans call for the replacement of portions of the current on-street route with an off-road trail, as well as a direct connection with an extended Capital Crescent Trail in Silver Spring.

Parking and Trail Access

The Met Branch Trail is accessible via the Union Station, NoMa, Rhode Island Avenue, Brookland and Takoma Metro stations.

Metropolitan Branch Trail Reviews

I did this trail yesterday for the first time and found it interesting and challenging, especially past the Fort Totten transfer station. It actually is posted to say "End" at the top of this steep grade, so I'm not sure if there IS more trail or not after this point. But it was fun from Union Station. By the way, the entry is actually at Union Station but at 3rd and M Streets NE. It's a little tricky to find but if you actually go to Union Station looking for a trail head you'll be lost. Once you get going it's an interesting trail with lots of urban graffiti and the hum of the metro trains accompanying you. But it's a nice path. Have fun.

Well marked and paved, goes straight up from DC. I've commuted on this numerous times and appreciate the effort put in to building something that actually takes you places, including a couple of metro stations.

I tried the new MBT from Union Station (southern terminus) northward, during July. The southern half is well marked EXCEPT for the section from the roadside trail (on sidewalk) to the off street dedicated trail at the Greyhound Bus Station. The trail signs lead to a set of stairs south side of the station, after passing under the railroad tracks. However, the bicycle RAMPS a block further north, at the northeast corner of the bus station. This should be corrected. Traveling along the dedicated trail from there is okay, fairly level grade, but in the summer time it is very very hot. There is little to no shade, and being adjacent to an active railroad yard, there is a lot of heat build up along the tracks. Not that it is a hard ride, just that I would not recommend it on hot days, especially for children. Once I got what should be about the halfway mark, the designated trail hits construction (07/12), then the markings become sparse and unclear. The landmark is Columbia University. Beyond CU the trail parallels an access road that serves a refuse transfer station. Again, not recommended on a hot day. Once past the transfer station, the grade becomes very VERY challenging, and the trail signs become unclear. I took what the map showed as being the trail up to Fort Totten (a park and Metro stop). I believe this is the interim section, but the change in elevation in a short distance makes this a very challenging section. I am by no means a novice, but it was really tough. The MBT is supposed to go to Silver Sring, MD, where it will connect to a number of fine trails. Unfortunately, I could not find any markers, and the one bike lane I found led to the south side of Tacoma and Tacoma Park, and another extreme grade (and no trail markers). I will try the MBT from the Silver Spring terminus later this fall (when it is cooler!), and post a review, to see if it is posted any better. Once completed, it should make an excellent, if challenging, addition to the DC netwrok.

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