Over the last four decades, thousands of miles of railroad track have been deactivated thanks to changes in how we move people and goods around the country and consolidation within the railroad industry.
As the tracks were pulled, the Rails to Trails Conservancy says, people began to walk, ski, or snowshoe on the abandoned railroad beds. In 1965, the nation’s first rail trail opened in Wisconsin. In 1986, Rails to Trails Conservancy, an organization dedicated to advocating for rail trails was founded. Today, the organization says that more than 21,000 miles of rail trails exist across the United States.
That includes here in Southern Maryland, where you’ll find rail trails in all three counties. These paved greenways are perfect for walking, running, biking, skiing, and snowshoeing. Some even allow horseback riding along the trails.
Calvert County: Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail
Running nearly 27 miles from Washington, DC, to Chesapeake Beach, the Chesapeake Beach Railway brought visitors to Calvert County from our nation’s capital. In the early part of the 20th Century, the weekenders swelled the population of Chesapeake Beach to 10,000!
The railway closed in 1935, but you can still enjoy portions of the railway on foot or bike. The trail begins near the Chesapeake Beach Water Park and runs about 1.5 miles south. Along the way, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the marshland and forest and see wildlife and birds, including bald eagles.
(Images via Town of Chesapeake Beach.)
Charles County: Indian Head Rail Trail
Stretching 13 miles from White Plains to Indian Head, the Indian Head Rail Trail is wide and paved with amazing scenery around every turn. The trail runs along the site of an abandoned railroad line that once served the Navy’s facility in Indian Head. Interpretive signs along the way explain the history and landscape of the area. Look for wildlife as you walk!
The trail is open from dawn to dusk for walking, running, and biking. No motorized vehicles are allowed, but there is an exception for motorized wheelchairs. Four parking areas make accessing any part of the trail easy.
St. Mary’s County: Three Notch Trail
The Three Notch Trail in St. Mary’s County currently extends from Hughesville to Lexington Park. Wide and paved, the trail takes you past historic buildings and businesses, through quiet forests, and by local landmarks and parks. Several sections of the trail are open and ready for use; further development is planned to connect the sections together. The longest stretch spans 11 miles from Charlotte Hall to John V. Baggett Park in Laurel Branch.
More information: https://kimberlybean.com/real-estate-blog/p1873/
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