With the exception of the crossing at Veir's Mill and the entrance on the west side of Georgia Avenue this trail has been complete for months. The George Avenue entrance should be done by tomorrow, just in time for the trail's Grand Opening Celebration.
The Department of Parks received funding for the 4.2 mile, 8-foot-wide hard surface Matthew Henson Trail in 2003 and began construction November 2006. To address concern among trail opponents over environmental impacts on the surrounding parkland, forested area and trees, the new Matthew Henson Trail features 0.6 miles of wooden boardwalk.
The Department of Parks also planted close to 1,000 trees and shrubs along the Matthew Henson Trail—which begins at the intersection with the Rock Creek Hiker-Biker Trail at Winding Creek Local Park on Dewey Road, runs northeast through Matthew Henson State Park near Hewitt Avenue and Bel Pre Elementary School and continues east across Layhill Road to Alderton Road.
The Department of Parks will officially mark the opening of the Matthew Henson Trail with a celebration on Saturday, May 9, 2009 from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. The celebration will take place at the park field behind the Global Mission Church located at 13421 Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. The grand opening event—FREE and open to the public—will include park naturalist-led children’s activities, a Matthew Henson-themed scavenger hunt with prizes, trail hikes, giveaways, refreshments and a special dedication of the new trail pavilion in honor of Idamae Garrott—the late Montgomery County legislator whose support helped make the state owned Mathew Henson park a possibility.
Who knew Montgomery County Parks had a blog? Good for them. There's more in the Gazette
The only section not expected to open this month is a pedestrian crossing that will connect Dewey Road to Turkey Branch Parkway at Veirs Mill Road in Aspen Hill, Elsasser said. The parks department is waiting for the State Highway Administration to finish the project. In the meantime, trail users will be directed to a detour one block up at Parkland Drive, which already has a crosswalk.
And the trail was the focus of a recent TrailVoice.
So what should you expect from the "new guy" in the Montgomery County trail system? How's 4.5 miles of smooth-rolling, stream-flowing, neighborhood-connecting greenway sound? Starting in Winding Creek Park, the Matthew Henson Trail branches east from DC/Maryland's popular Rock Creek Trail. The trail follows Turkey Branch Stream as it winds its way east across Viers Mill Rd. (a detour is in place to cross at Parkland Dr.) and under Connecticut Ave. Tall oaks line the path which is, in most places, no more than thirty yards from the suburban backyards of Wheaton and Silver Spring. After crossing busy Georgia Ave, the trail returns to the greenway where two unique aspects may catch your eye:
- Tree plantings (and lots of them) line the path. Montgomery Parks planted close to thirty tree species to replace the loss of tree coverage from trail construction.
- A series of boardwalk paths (0.6 total miles), designed to minimize the environmental impact of the trail, hover above the forest carpet.
Meanwhile, the trail continues across Layhill Rd and about a mile beyond it - ending in a "T" at Alderton Rd in Silver Spring.
But is that really the end of the Matthew Henson Trail? Proponents envision it eventually to be the elusive Rock Creek/Sligo Creek trail connection, but that's a discussion for another day. For now, let's lay out the welcome mat for Mr. Matthew Henson - Arctic explorer and trailblazer.
Photo by TrailVoice