I live in DC, which is a great place to live and visit. I try to make the most of it. However, I also love to leave my home and see what the world has to offer. Come and join me!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Biking the Sligo Creek Trail

Sligo Creek Trail
 I took the day off work today, and decided that I would celebrate by going for a ride.  I'd only been on the Sligo Creek Trail in Montgomery County, MD once before and the ride had to be abbreviated, so today I wanted to bike the whole distance.

I cheated and started the ride by taking the Metro to the West Hyattsville Station.  The Northwest Branch Trail runs next to the station (come out the faregates and turn right); it connects with the Sligo Creek in something less than a mile.

The trail is a perfect for a nice and easy ride.  It is very flat for DC--it runs along the creek, and the creek doesn't have any rapids, lol--with a slight incline going from W Hyattsville to Wheaton.  The last mile or so is noticeably uphill, but not at all steep.  I was out for a "Sunday drive" kind of ride, slow and meandering.  It took me about an hour of riding time each way.  The trail is 10.2 miles long; according to Google I rode about 9 miles each way so I missed some of the trail at one end or the other.

About 15 minutes into the ride, this happened:

Xtreme Blowout

The mother of all blowouts.  Luckily, I had stopped my bike because I was hearing a weird sound.  It turned out, the bead of the tire had come out of the groove of the wheel.  About 10 seconds after I stopped there was a MASSIVE explosion.  It sounded like a gun shot.  I thought I was going to be surrounded by a SWAT team within 3 minutes (nobody ever came).  I can now claim my first successful field change of a tire, pumping with a tiny pump and then having to deflate no fewer than 4 times to get the bead set correctly.  I had brought two tubes with me, along with two patch kits.  I would have needed a whole lot more patch kits if I'd gotten another one of these.  I was nervous the rest of the ride, but luckily both tires held air until I got home.

I rode up to the top of the trail (to Wheaton Regional Park) and turned around.  I took the photos on the way back.  The trail takes you under 495, so beware, those who fear to go outside the Beltway!

 Kosher RestaurantsNearly at the end is the Kemp Mill Shopping Center with several Kosher restaurants, as well as a grocery store and a CVS.  The restroom at the CVS was not terrifying, though it's one of those in the warehouse/back room area.  Staff was nice about letting me in.  I bought packing tape.  It was on sale, buy one get one 50% off.

I stopped at a bench to eat my lunch.  Nice and shaded.

Lunch Bench

There are areas of young trees (I rode through this water crossing without realizing there was a bridge right next to it)....


and areas of mature trees.


Mostly the creek is still and clear...

Sligo Creek, still

Though there are a few parts where it is moving.

Sligo Creek, moving

The path has dozens of lovely wooden bridges

Wooden Bridge

 and also dozens of playgrounds.


Maybe not dozens, but it is so nice for the neighborhoods to have all these little playgrounds everywhere.  They are not full parks--no restrooms or other facilities (hence the CVS).

It's mostly shaded but there are a few fields.  This part is my favorite, only a little bit of a ride from the W Hyattsville Station.

Powerline Meadow

I know the land is clear for the powerlines,

Powerline Meadow

but the tangle of vines and ground cover is so lush!  And there aren't that many wildflowers on the rest of the trail, at least at this point in the summer.

Most of the trail is off road, but there is a small portion on a quiet street with nice little single family homes.

Sharing the Road

The trail is fairly well signed, though there are some dogleg road crossings where I got confused.  There are two tricky crossings of busy roads where you have a crosswalk and can push a button for flashing lights, but no signal.  The other crossings are on quiet roads or have signals or stop signs.

After a nice 3 hour interlude (well, the 20 minutes changing my tire was not so nice), I was back at the metro.  Bikes are allowed in the DC metro system outside of rush hour.  You must use the front or back door of the car.

West Hyattsville Station

All photos are here.

1 comment:

Mrs. Micawber said...

I really like your panniers - they look like they'd carry a lot.

It's amazing how loud the tires can be when they blow. Changing a clincher is no joke - 20 minutes really isn't bad! (I ride sewups, which are extremely quick-change tires as long as they've been stretched out in advance.)

It looks so nice and lush and green there. What a great way to spend your day off.