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The Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail provides a safe pathway for students, from kindergartners to doctoral candidates, to walk and bike to school in College Park, Riverdale Park and Hyattsville. The short, paved trail (currently open in two discontinuous segments) follows the route of the trolley that once ran from Washington, DC, to Laurel, Maryland, between 1903 and 1958.
In College Park, where the trail is commonly known as the College Park Trolley Trail, a bike lane along Rhode Island Avenue extending north of the trail expands bicyclists' options. At Pierce Avenue, trail users can also seamlessly connect to the Paint Branch Trail, allowing for safe travel to the University of Maryland.
Of course, you don't have to be earning a degree to use the trail. Local residents use the path for after-dinner walks, commuters take it as a shortcut to the Metrorail system and house cats find it a good place to wait for an indulgent hand to give them a pat. The trail sits on a raised berm and crosses several quiet neighborhood roads, where you can easily pick up the pathway.
Mostly shaded nearly all year by walnut, maple and flowering trees that tower near the trail from neighboring yards, the rail-trail also serves as something of a home-and-garden tour. Residents of the quirky Sears bungalows and rambling colonials along the trail use their yards to showcase their green thumbs. Additionally, several businesses within a block of trail, including an impressive herb shop and a corner convenience store, provide diversions during a short stroll.
A recently built second segment links Riverdale Park and Hyattsville through new development. In the future, the two disconnected segments will be linked, while longer-term plans call for the extension of the trail south to Charles Armentrout Drive in Hyattsville. There, the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail would connect directly to the Northwest Branch Trail, Northeast Branch Trail and Anacostia River Trail. In 2017 wayfinding kiosks were added to the trail.
To get to the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail's northern endpoint in College Park from Washington's Beltway (Interstate 495), take Exit 25B south onto US 1. Turn left onto Greenbelt Road and look for the trailhead on the right after three blocks. Parking is on the street.
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