45 Bikes & Hikes: Indian Head Rail Trail

White Plains, Md.
It’s a Bird
Indian Head Rail

Distance: 26 miles round-trip.

Completed in 2009, the area’s newest “rail to trail” is a
ten-foot-wide paved path that follows the route of a railway built in 1918
to ship supplies from the Navy’s Indian Head Powder Factory. A good place
to start is near mile marker 10 via a spur at Bensville Park. Ride west
and enjoy a few miles of straight, flat pavement sheltered by tall trees
where you can really pick up speed. The trail breaks open into wetlands
closer to the Potomac River. At a beaver-lodge viewing area, it’s not
uncommon to see bald eagles. Farther along, you may spy turtles, great
blue herons, and egrets. The trail has it all: restrooms, benches,
drinking fountains, even a rain shelter. If you need an energy boost at
mile 0 in Indian Head, try a cupcake at Michelle’s Cakes. Returning east,
the trail follows the Mattawoman Creek valley into White Plains and the
terminus at Theodore Green Boulevard. (Avoid parking at this end of the
trail unless you enjoy traffic, which is likely on Routes 5 and 301.) Turn
around and bike back to the spur at Bensville Park. For more information, visit the Charles County parks website.