The Georgetown Branch Trail connects Silver Spring to the off-road Interim Capital Crescent Trail in Lyttonsville. It is 1.6 miles along the Georgetown Branch Trail from downtown Silver Spring to Lyttonsville. The Georgetown Branch Trail (GBT) is on-road on a busy urban street for several blocks in downtown Silver Spring, then is on quieter residential Streets in north Silver Spring. It crosses several busy roadways.
Bike route signs mark the trail, but it is easy to miss a turn when following the directional signs. A map and a pictorial description of the GBT follow below. If you want to get directions in a que sheet format, see printer friendly directions.
The Georgetown Branch Trail begins beside McDonalds at the northeast corner of Colesville Road and Second Avenue, diagonally across the intersection from the Silver Spring Transit Center.
The Trail starts up Second Avenue as a sidepath trail on the east side of the street. But it goes on-road at the top of the hill, after only one block.
The Georgetown Branch Trail continues on-road up Second Avenue past the Silver Spring Post Office. There are bike lanes for one block at the Post Office, but they are of substandard width and put cyclists in the "door zone" of parked cars. Use caution - there is much street parking and parking lot entering/exiting activity from Post Office patrons during business hours.
Second Avenue changes from a busy urban street to a much quieter neighborhood street after it crosses Spring Street. Frequent speed bumps and stop signs calm traffic through Woodside.
Second Avenue crosses 16th Street about 1 mile from downtown Silver Spring. Use caution - 16 Street is a busy six lane state highway. There is frequent turning traffic across the crosswalk from motorists turning right onto 16th Street from southbound Second Avenue.
The GBT turns left onto Grace Church Road at the first intersection after crossing 16th Street. Grace Church Road is too narrow for safe passing if there are cars parked on both sides of the street. Be prepared to yield to oncoming cars, expecially near the turn at the CSX railroad tracks.
Follow the right turn at the end of Grace Church Road to the one lane bridge and cross the bridge over the CSX railroad tracks to Talbot Avenue. Follow Talbot Avenue from behind the Rosemary Hills Elementary School for two blocks to its end, where Talbot Avenue turns left onto Michigan Avenue.
Watch closely for the GBT turn signs for the next several blocks. A quick succession of right-left-right turns follow on one block intervals, from Michigan Ave. onto Pennsylvania Ave. onto Kansas Ave. onto a bike path.
Less than one block after the left turn onto Kansas Avenue look to the right for the bike path that goes through the edge of a business parking lot. Take the bike path, then continue straight onto Stewart Avenue.
Be alert for truck traffic on Stewart Avenue. The start of the Interim CCT will be on the left, at the base of the short hill just before Stewart Avenue ends at Brookville Road.
If you continue on the crushed stone trail from Stewart Avenue, you will see signs at regular intervals identifying the trail as being the Georgetown Branch Trail. The mile markers indicate (Future) Capital Crescent Trail. The maps in the mapcases on the trail indicate Interim Capital Crescent Trail. This trail section is often referred to as part of the Capital Crescent Trail.
There is much confusion in the names used for the trail section between Bethesda and Silver Spring. The official name for all of the trail between Bethesda and Silver Spring, both the crushed stone off-road section and the signed on-road bike route section, is Georgetown Branch Trail.
The following is how the names are commonly used:
1 - On-road Georgetown Branch Trail: the signed bike route from downtown Silver Spring to Stewart Avenue.
2 - Interim Capital Crescent Trail: the temporary crushed stone trail section from Stewart Avenue to downtown Bethesda.
3 - Capital Crescent Trail: the completed asphalt trail from Bethesda to Georgetown.
4 - Future Capital Crescent Trail: the planned trail on the Master Plan alignment along the CSX corridor between Stewart Avenue and downtown Silver Spring.
Go to silverspringtrails.org to see the plans for future trails in this area.