Capital Crescent Trail

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Maryland

Elevation Gain15ft
Trailhead Elevation14ft
Elevation Min/Max8/15ft
Elevation Start/End14/14ft

Capital Crescent Trail

Capital Crescent Trail is a hiking and biking trail in District of Columbia and Maryland. It is within Little Falls Branch Park, Georgetown, Clara Barton Parkway, Maryland, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Dalecarlia Reservoir, and Georgetown Waterfront Park. It is 7.4 miles long and begins at 14 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 0.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 15 feet. Colonial Parking, Colonial Parking, and other parkings are near the trailhead. There are also bicycle parkings and a bicycle parking. Central Parking, Waterfront Center, and other parkings, the Fletcher's Cove picnic site, and the Fishing Shore (elevation 20 feet) beach can be seen along the trail. There are also drinking waters, parkings, restrooms, bicycle parking, and a water along the trail.

Capital Crescent Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

AMC's Best Day Hikes Near Washington, D.C. (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Stephen Mauro and Beth Homicz
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"Very popular with local commuters, this shady, gently descending paved rail-trail travels through historic areas in Maryland and Washington, D.C., offering views of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, the Potomac River, and several attractive old railway crossings."
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Washington, DC (Menasha Ridge Press)
Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper
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"A former railroad right-of-way, the multi-use trail curves through close-in suburban Maryland and Northwest Washington. Its paved lower segment provides hikers with a good workout and scenic outing in a parkland setting. The 10-acre Georgetown Waterfront Park offers visitors a place to enjoy river views at the edge of a historic urban neighborhood. The Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) is a narrow, parkland-encased pathway that arcs smoothly through affluent neighborhoods for 11 miles between Maryland’s Silver Spring and Washington’s Georgetown waterfront. The country’s most used rail trail, it has been heralded by the International Project for Public Places as one of the world’s “21 great places that show how transportation can enliven a community.”"
Best Bike Rides Washington, DC: Great Recreational Rides in the Metro Area (Falcon Guides)
Martin Fernandez
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"This ride will start in a revitalized area of Georgetown, then move through the Capital Crescent Trail to hip Bethesda, Maryland, and then back down through Rock Creek Park. I offer you two options, one that uses most of Beach Drive along Rock Creek; the other makes use of the bike trails along the same area. Either one is great, but the “bike trail” version is a little more mellow (sans traffic) and scenic."

Capital Crescent Trail Trip Reports

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This was my second time on this trail. This time started in Bethesda at great parking lot near the metro - parking free on weekends. Biked down to waterfront in Georgetown and back. I'd recommend starting in Georgetown as trail inclines up towards Maryland and it's an easy coasting ride most of the way back the whole way. Fletchers Boat House is great pit stop to and from just off the trail with restrooms. Great info provided. Thanks.
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The Capital Crescent trail is well paved and fairly easy biking conditions from Bethesda to the Washington Harbor. It can be crowded on weekends but not enough to avoid the path. Speeds are moderate and the slope from the Harbour to Bethesda is easy to moderate. Higher speeds are possible during the week with less traffic on path. Past Bethesda, the trail is unpaved and becomes very suspect. It is a future trail at this time but would avoid unless you desire to connect the Captial Crescent trail with Rock Creek Bike Trail. But the signs to link the two are not marked, so you will need local knowledge to connect the two.
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Rode CCT on Jan 2, 2003 as an after-lunch ride; day was cloudy, but trail's easy grade makes for the perfect exercise ride.
Rode about 10 miles, from downtown Bethesda (where I work) to Fletcher's Boat House, where trail parallels the C&O Canal - from an urban setting to a quiet, park setting. Very relaxing, and necessary after all of the holiday celebrations! A great way to burn a few lunch time calories!

Capital Crescent Trail Photos

Trail Information

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Nearby City
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Skill Level
Skating, Fishing
Additional Use
Elm Street Park
Local Contacts
USGS: Washington West
Local Maps

Trail Log