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The bustling D.C. metro area seems light-years away from the parklands bordering the Sligo Creek Trail in the Maryland suburbs northeast of the city. The paved stream-valley trail follows the meandering creek for about 10 miles from its junction with the Northwest Branch Trail in Hyattsville in Prince George’s County to the town of Wheaton in Montgomery County.
Named for the creek it follows, the Sligo Creek Trail is just one arm of the 40-mile Anacostia Tributary Trail System. That trail network starts in Hyattsville where the tidal Anacostia River splits into the Northwest and Northeast Branches, each with its corresponding creekside trail. The trail corridors run through parkland that the Maryland–National Capital Park and Planning Commission started acquiring in the 1930s.
The Sligo Creek Trail begins where it splits off from the Northwest Branch Trail at the confluence of Sligo Creek and Northwest Branch of Anacostia River in Hyattsville. The playing fields at Green Meadows Park are the first of many you’ll pass as you head northwest.
Throughout the trail, be aware of side trails that can carry you off the main trail and into nearby neighborhoods. Also, activate the flashing lights for pedestrian crosswalks at the Riggs Road and East–West Highway crossings.
The trail enters Montgomery County just before New Hampshire Avenue and begins long passages through woodland, where occasional small bridges cross the creek. Heading north, you may notice low dams crossing the creek. Some mark the locations of old gristmills, and one was part of Takoma Park’s public drinking-water system until the 1930s.
Commuters can use the winding 8-foot-wide trail from 5 a.m. to mid-night, although general hours are sunrise to sunset. Dozens of picnic tables and benches allow recreational users to relax and watch deer browsing in the woodsy sections or herons stealthily fishing in the creek.
The two-lane Sligo Creek Parkway runs alongside the trail most of the way through Montgomery County until the trail crosses University Boulevard/MD 193. The narrow trail gets crowded on the weekends with walkers, joggers, and bicyclists, so two sections of the parkway are closed to motor vehicles from 9 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday. One stretches from Old Carroll Avenue to Piney Branch Road in Takoma Park; the other is from Forest Glen Road in Forest Glen to University Boulevard West in Wheaton.
The trail ends in a residential area about 0.4 mile from a pedestrian entrance to the 530-acre Wheaton Regional Park, a popular family destination featuring a large playground, an ice rink, a fishing lake, picnic shelters, and even a merry-go-round and miniature train for the kids.
Parking for the Sligo Creek Trail can be found in Chillum at Green Meadows Park (Sligo Pkwy & Roanoke St). Farther north, parking is available at the intersection of Sligo Creek Parkway and Houston Avenue in Takoma Park and just north of the intersection of Sligo Creek Parkway and Three Oaks Drive in Silver Spring. In Kemp Mill, park at the dedicated lot off Sligo Creek Parkway north of Dennis Avenue.
In Adelphi, parking is available at the Parklawn Recreation Building (1601 East–West Hwy)
In Takoma Park, parking is available by the Sligo Creek North Neighborhood Park (Sligo Creek Pkwy & Heather Ave) and by the Sligo Creek Stream Valley Unit #1 (Hilltop Rd & Mississippi Ave).
In Silver Spring, parking is available at Houston–Sligo Creek Park (Sligo Creek Pkwy & Kennebec Ave), by Dale Drive Neighborhood Park (Dale Dr & Hartford Ave), and two Sligo Creek Stream Valley Unit #2 locations (Sligo Creek Pkwy, 500 feet west of Piney Branch Road) and (9300 Sligo Creek Pkwy & Ellsworth Dr).
In Kemp Mill, parking is available on Sligo–Dennis Ave at a local Park (Sligo Creek Pkwy, 0.1 mile north of Dennis Ave) and at Sligo Creek Stream Valley Unit #4 (Sligo Creek Pkwy, 0.2 mile south of University Blvd W/MD 193).
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