Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Urban Hike - Wheaton to Takoma Park

In anticipation of a fall hiking/camping vacation in Washington state, I'm working on building up my endurance.  Since this past weekend was so hot and steamy, I decided to skip doing a serious hike and use one of the many trails in the area to get in some miles.  My route started at my house in Wheaton and ended at the Sunday farmer's market in Takoma Park.  I used the Sligo Creek Trail (pdf) for most of my route, and the total distance was between 6 and 7 miles.  Here's a description of my urban hike with photos...

I started out on Windham Lane, which starts around Georgia Ave and continues all the way to the Sligo Creek Trail.  At one point, the road ends, but a footpath continues and connects back up with the next section of Windham.

Windham ends at the Sligo Creek Trail.  Once you get there, turn right to start heading towards Silver Spring and (eventually!) Takoma Park.  As you can see, there was lots of shade thanks to the trees, so this was a relatively comfortable walk on a hot sunny day.
Continue along the trail, making several road crossings.  Eventually you'll see Holy Cross Hospital and the 'tunnel' that goes under the beltway.  You're getting close to Silver Spring!
As you continue along, ponder the mileage markers along the trail, none of which go higher than 1 1/2 miles, even though the trail is nearly 9 miles long.  What do they mean???  The 'Finish' sign that happens around the mid-point of the trail is especially mysterious.
As you get closer to Takoma, the trail starts to hop back and forth over Sligo Creek using a series of scenic bridges.  It starts to feel like some of the woods I might see on my upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Eventually, when you reach Adventist Hospital, you'll see a sign for the Takoma Park Community Center.  At this point, you leave the trail and turn right onto Maple Ave to follow the sign.
Continue along Maple Ave. past several blocks of apartment buildings.  Eventually, you'll need to turn left to get onto Carroll Ave., which is running parallel to Maple.  I turned left onto Grant Ave., then turned right at the traffic light for Ethan Allen Ave., which turns into Carroll Ave.  You know you're getting close to middle of Takoma Park when the houses start to get more colorful...

And the lawn ornaments get much more interesting!

Eventually, the farmer's market comes into sight!  Relax with some snacks at the market before taking the metro back to Wheaton.

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