Potomac Heritage Trail, northern segment

I did the northernmost 2.5 miles of the Potomac Heritage Trail with a loosely-organized Meetup group. One of the objectives of the event was to assemble as many hikers as possible for a relatively short 4-mile round trip from Turkey Run Park to the northern trailhead, with spur hikes to the south for the more ambitious. And I’d say the goal was reached, with nearly 100 hikers assembled in the parking area.

The weather was nearly perfect, with sun breaking out of the clouds and temperatures rising into the 60s. The trail itself is not particularly difficult; one ill-planned scootch over some rocks left me with a wet butt. However, the footing at this time of year was a bit treacherous: it alternated among residual snowpack, refrozen snowpack, and mud—mud chewed up by 100 pairs of boots and sneakers. The switchbacks that drop steeply down to the river trail from the parking lot could use some T.L.C.

regroupinga bridge to MarylandThe trail’s northern terminus is in a small subdivision, in sight of the American Legion Bridge that carries I-495 over the river into Maryland.

winter runningAlong the way, views of the Potomac are quite fine. At many points the trail drops to within a few feet of the river’s edge, so I would expect these sections to be impassable in high water. South of the park, the terrain flattens and dries out, and was more fun walking. The trail climbs a ridge to join the George Washington Parkway right of way. I was a bit weary, and knew that I still had some icy muck to negotiate on my way back, so I called it a day.

(Update: I understand now that this section of trail is just a short unit of a planned 800-mile system.)