Matthew Henson Hiker-Biker Trail
Matthew Henson Hiker-Biker Trail is an asphalt-paved park trail that provides a connecting route from Veirs Mill Road through to Layhill Road. It runs for most of its length through Matthew Henson State Park.
Perhaps you would like to see a PDF MAP.
Matthew Henson State Park Segment
Matthew Henson Hiker-Biker Trail has a western terminus in Winding Branch Local Park, where it will connect to the southern stub of Gaynor Road at Hunter's Lane. Another spur in Winding Branch Local Park will connect to the northwestern stub of Dewey Road.
From the western terminus, the Trail runs near the western bank of the Turkey Branch (also known as the Watery Branch) of Rock Creek to approximately the intersection of Turkey Branch Parkway and Grenoble Drive. At this point it begins to run more deeply into the Matthew Henson State Park and crosses the west branch of Turkey Branch and from there travels mostly east-northeast along the northern bank of the east branch of Turkey Branch.
The Trail crosses under Connecticut Avenue at the infamous Cloverleaf to Nowhere bridge and then crosses to the southern bank of Turkey Branch, and skirts to the north of the recently constructed stormwater retention ponds. It rises to a street grade crossing of Georgia Avenue just southeast of the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Hewitt Avenue.
Matthew Henson Greenway Segment
The Trail exits Matthew Henson State Park at Georgia Avenue, and on the east side of Georgia Avenue it parallels the road, crossing to the south of the Global Mission Church and then it continues east-northeast in the Matthew Henson Greenway. It runs south of and generally parallel to Hewitt Avenue, crossing the ridge that separates the Rock Creek and Potomac River watershed from the Anacostia River Watershed. It parallels one of the small tributaries to Bel Pre Creek as it enters Bel Pre Neighborhood Park and here it has connections to both the northern and southern stubs of Rippling Brook Drive. It crosses Bel Pre Creek proper just south of Bel Pre Elementary School. From there it crosses Layhill Road and enters the Layhill Village Local Park, with an eastern terminus connecting to both the northern and southern stubs of Alderton Road.
The route followed by the Matthew Henson Hiker Biker trail is one of great antiquity. It is one of the shortest and least-difficult portages between the Rock Creek/Potomac watershed and the Northwest Branch (Anacostia) watershed. However, there is reason to believe that the actual route most traveled in pre-Columbian and in early Colonial days was more along the path of the present-day Turkey Branch Parkway and Hewitt Avenue. Both the Turkey Branch of Rock Creek and Bel Pre Creek are historically subject to significant flash-flooding problems during cloudbursts.
Early Modern History
The history of the Matthew Henson Hiker Biker Trail from about 1950 to about 2000 is roughly the same as the history of Matthew Henson State Park.
Originally, this was to be the route of a vehicular parkway or freeway usually referred to as "the Rockville Facility". Legislative action in 1987 and 1990 reserved the right-of-way of the proposed Montrose Parkway north of Veirs Mill Road and west of Georgia Avenue to the Matthew Henson State Park. To the east of Georgia Avenue, this is properly referred to as the Matthew Henson Greenway.
Maryland House Bill 399 entitled "Montgomery County - Matthew Henson State Park - Expansion MC 305-03" was unanimously voted into law.
Funding was received by the Department of Parks for design and construction of the Trail.
Court actions and protests were resolved, which had argued against the Trail, and then against making the Trail a paved asphalt trail.
Construction begins, concurrent with the Turkey Branch Stream Restoration Project final phases.
The official opening date for the Trail is 2009 May 9 (Brachfeld, Melissa, "Matthew Henson Hiker-Biker Trail to open Saturday: Dedication ceremony will celebrate completion of pathway through state park", Montgomery Gazette, May 6, 2009, downloaded 2009 May 7). Perhaps you may wish to see images from this dedication ceremony.
A personal note: at the conclusion of the dedication, on a beautiful early summer day, even as final thanks was made to Ms Garrott for her lifetime of contribution to Montgomery County with the culmination being this posthumous opening of this park and trail, a sudden and powerful breeze came out of nowhere and briskly stirred the trees and brought a lovely cool to we who stood there in the sun.
They say that when the angels dance, they vigorously flap their wings.
May there always be a blessed breeze at this pavilion on the trail.