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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 2018, two portions were open for use: In the north, the oldest section of trail begins at the intersection of Deborah Drive and heads south past residences in Charlottes Hall, Northern County Senior Center, Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, St. Mary’s County Welcome Center and the Charlotte Hall Library. 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.
This section of trail once ended at Thompson Corner Road, but it was connected with another disrecete piece to form a continuous path down to 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 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.
Today husband and I started the 3 Notch Trail at the library in Charlotte Hall MD, on a perfect autumn day. The trail was everything we could want. Interesting scenery, well maintained asphalt trail, friendly fellow travelers. As "super seniors" (ages 75 & 81) we limited our trip to a 16 mile there and back again. Can't wait to finish that last segment, but winter approacheth, so next time, next year...
Visited the trail today at the chancellors run end after 0.36 of a mile the paved ground disappeared at the end of the Walmart (which put me in the street) and picked back up at the McDonald’s with no warning to trail users on how to connect to the other end. This was very confusing and interfered with my timed run. There are no proper signs welcoming you to the trail.
Even after almost two years (of no reviews), the barn kitties mentioned in a couple of the earlier reviews are still there! I couldn't believe it! In fact, I thought, "there's no way those cats are there now", but there was something in the middle of the trail ahead...I thought it might be a groundhog, but it didn't move as I got closer. In fact, it was a barn cat, lounging in the sun, and as soon as I stopped, it sauntered right up to me and gave me so much affection! Never even wandered away! *I* was the one who finally had to leave. Also, another barn cat came sauntering over; it was friendly enough, but was easily bored, lol, and just as soon walked back to the barn.
As for the trail itself, it is still well-maintained (maintenance was even going on that day) and a pleasant ride thru country. I parked at the Charlotte Hall Library, which has a bathroom (important!). I live an hour away and I'd say it's worth the drive. You are not just biking/walking thru woods, so there is some variation in scenery; woods, farms, backyards, a couple of places with horses.
Rode our e-bikes on this flat, partially sunny trail from the trail head to Baggett Park on a 36 degree Saturday in November. Parked at the shopping center at the Rt 3/Mohawk Rd intersection, which is one block south of the Deborah Rd trail starting point. Otherwise, parking at the Senior Center takes you 2.5 miles further down the trail. Nice, pastoral views of farmland, horses, barn cats and the occasional dog barking from a yard in the distance. Would definitely enjoy doing this trail again in the Summer. distance.
Short, not crowded, paved and a very nice flattish ride. Parking at senior center, or the beginning. Not at the library, not at Deborah Dr. Ride this if you are near by.
We rode from Welcome center to the Laurel Grove / Baggett Park trail head. 17.5 mile round trip. Nice ride, some nice sights and some shade. Not crowded. Would recommend and will do it again.
My wife & I rode 22-miles from the John V. Baggett Park trailhead to Deborah Drive and back. The trail is very well maintained with a smooth consistent surface. The tree-lined southern half offers a bit more shade and is farther from the main highway. There are a dozen markers along the trail detailing the history of the railroad & local communities. All in all a very pleasant ride.
Beautiful ride, be careful on this trail though, there are some steep embankments that you really should be aware of...other than that I loved the shaded trail and the often beautiful farmlands
Some friends and I run this regularly. The barn kitties always greet us along the way. The scenery is great and it feels safe with tons of foot traffic and houses along the way.
I moved from Northern Virginia where the similar trails are so congested that they just aren’t enjoyable. I tried Three Notch Trail beginning at Baggett Park. During my two hour walk, I shared the trail with enough people to feel safe, but not so many to ruin the experience. Restrooms. Scenery of animals (horses, cows, goats, and a barn cat), woods, streams, and ruined barns. I’ll use this trail often.
I parked today at the St. Mary's County Welcome Center and got on the trail near there, just a block away. There are only a few parking spaces there. More parking is available at the Northern Senior Center, a little further north (29655 Charlotte Hall Rd).
I rode 8 miles south on the trail, to John V. Baggett Park. The trail is smooth and quite wide for a bike trail. It's actually wide enough for a vehicle, and I did see one Amish buggy going down the trail. I didn't know that there were Amish communities in Maryland.
There are a couple of spot-a-pots along that section of the trail.
Finally found a trail in these parts... and it reminds me of those in DC and Cambridge, which I very much enjoyed. Yes, you can hear the Rt235 traffic for about 3/4 mile from John V Baggett park, but its better than running alongside them. Nature (sometimes homes and nature) are still between you and the highway. Keep going and all you will hear are the birds and your own breath. Its shady and smooth, and very nice to run, walk, or ride on. Come on MD... give us more of the Rail Trail!
I rode the length of the northern section of the trail from Charlotte Hall down to Baggett Park in Laurel Grove. I parked at the St. Mary’s Visitor Center, which is about a half block from the trail. From there I rode north to Deborah Drive, then doubled back and rode all the way south to Baggett Park and back to the Visitor Center. I am a leisurely rider, the whole trip took me 3 hours. The trail condition is excellent, smoothly paved. The scenery is lovely; farms and forestland, and you will also go past private homes. My only issue with this trail is that its proximity to two major roads, routes 5 and 235, means that the road noise is omnipresent through most of the ride. From Charlotte Hall north to Deborah Drive, the traffic noise is so loud you can’t hear the sounds of nature. It diminishes as you ride south, but it is still present for most sections of the trail. I rode on a Friday afternoon, starting shortly after noon. I only encountered a handful of other cyclists, and about the same number of pedestrians. At the terminus in Baggett Park, there is a new restaurant right next to the trail – so new that it does not have a name on the awning yet. They were smoking some barbecue out back that smelled delicious.
Rode the northern end 5 miles south.Well kept ,plenty of areas to stop and nice level ride .
Great shade on hot days, Plan on making this ride quite often.
11 miles of really nice trails, lots of shade. Starting at the park at Laurel Grove heading north it runs parallel to route 235, then paralleling route 5 at the Wawa. The new section from Wawa goes all the way through to a little past McKays in Charlotte Hall. If your biking it's hard to get up a whole lot of speed because of all the crossings. A relaxing and enjoyable fairly level ride.
I live in the southern area and tried to ride the south section recently. It is incomplete and has very short segments that just end. The sidewalk that parallels the path is easier to ride. The street is also marked but traffic can be heavy and fast. Not suitable for a family ride with small children.
We biked the northern end of this trail. The trail is easy and goes through some beautiful farmland and historical areas. We stopped at the Amish market for some baked goods and rode around the old Anglican church and schoolhouse. Overall, a very pleasant ride! P.S. I hesitate to give such a good review because we really enjoyed the solitude.
For the Three Notch Trail - check http://www.co.saint-marys.md.us/recreate/Threenotchtrail.asp
As for crime...a resent review of crime in the area of the trails (Three Notch) had to be moved a 1000 feet to find any crime in the area, and most was outside the trail in the areas of shopping districts.
This was our first time on this trail, it was very clean and we saw all kinds of people walking with and with out dogs and kids, other bikes, people of all ages, a busy but not too busy trail. It is very nicely done with new trees and fences to clearly mark the trail from private property. Now it was a 60 degree in January when we did this trail on our bikes let see how busy it will be this spring.
I have looked at some of the other blogs from DC and else where they have said that they have found crime going down where the trails were, because of the trails being more open and active. where before the areas where over grown and provided more cover for crime. Also they were commenting that some trails had police officers biking on them or voleteers to help keep watch .
We all have access to the web we can help find items ideas to help get thses trails built. I myself,have only found this site I dont even know who to get in touch with in St. Mary's County. Who is in charge?
2.6 miles long very smooth pavement. 2 spots along trail that the adjacent landowners property is full of garbage and yard art, but otherwise a very pristine natural peaceful ride. A nice respite from the 18 miles of road to and 14 miles of road back to my place. Parking lots at both ends of trail. Will be great when it is all finished.
Section 2 of trail is open. About 3 miles. Nice walking trail and wide.
We're new to biking and rode this trail today. We are sad that it's barely more than 3 miles, though nice that it's all asphalt. We encountered people walking their dogs, people running, folks riding their bikes like us, and two amish horse and buggies that we had to give right away too because they acted like it was "their road". Overall a nice ride, but not long enough. Disapointed that the future phases appear to have been caboshed, as the road just ends.
Biked this lovely 3.5 mile trail Nov 28, 2009. At the north end the trail starts at Deborah Drive at the St Marys county line just north of McKay's Plaza Mall on Rt 236. Eventually the trail will go 28 miles to Lexington Park near the Naval Air Station. Youker
AS an avid user of this rail-trail, I would like to provide an update: The 2.5 mile addition(known as Phase II) to the Three Notch rail-trail in Northers St. Mary's County, MD., is nearly complete. Nearly 2 miles of the new addition have been completed and is in use by the public. This 2 mile addition to the original 1 mile section is beautiful and peaceful with several shaded areas. The final .5 mile of the trail addition should be ready for use by the end of August. The entire 3.5 mile trail is asphalt. An additional 3 mile section of the Three Notch trail (Phase V) has received funding through Maryland's Program Open Space in the amount of $770,000.00 with construction expected to begin this Fall. This 3 mile section will span from the John Baggett Park in Laurel Grove to MD. Route 5 in Mechanicsville, MD. An additional 2 mile section of the trail (Phase III) in California, MD is being constructed now and will be completed in FY 09.
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