Route 355 to Patuxent River State Park
Route 355 to Watkins Mill Road (3.0 miles)
Starting at Rt. 355, this 2.9 mile section features scenic and a historic site. The trail provides a rock overlook of Seneca Creek about half way up it and a natural stone bridge as it nears Watkins Mill Road.
The site of Middlebrook Mills is located on the east side of Seneca Creek next to the bridge on Rt. 355. It dates back to 1795.
Also of note, in May 1861, the early days of the Civil War, General Charles P. Stone stationed troops in Montgomery County to help guard the capitol. His second battalion was stationed at Middlebrook.
The trail starts on the gravel road at the end of the parking lot by the sign. About a hundred yards down the road, turn left at the "Seneca Trail" sign. This is a new section of trail that parallels Rt. 355 with its traffic noise. If you continue on the gravel road for another minute or two, it enters a field where the path to the old trail may be spotted on the left going off towards the trees. That old trail follows the meandering creek and connects with the new trail in about 1/4 mile. After going 20 ft. of so on the old trail, one crosses blacktop for 10 ft and then reaches the dirt trail. After 1/2 mile, the trail veers away from the creek and goes uphill about 30 ft. A side trail comes in on the left. After topping the hill and dropping down, there is another side trail on the left just before crossing the bridge. At about 2/3 mile, there is a board walk across a muddy area and shortly thereafter, the trail bears left along the creek. About 300 yds. later, the trail veers left. You pass another side trail on the left and then cross a bridge over a small stream coming from the culvert. The side trail to the Mid-County Highway is at about .9 miles.
The trail intermittently follows the creek for the next 1/3 mile and then veers away and uphill about 30 ft. to an overlook of the creek at about 1.4 miles. From the overlook, it continues uphill into mountain laurel. The trail now crosses the rolling hillside with occasional gullies. At about 2.1 miles, there is another stream crossing on the new fiberglass bridge. The trail continues gradually uphill and passes through "stumpland" where 10 dead trees along the trail have been cut down. At about 2.3 miles, the trail tops a hill and turns right. Shortly thereafter, there is a steep drop off on the right providing a view of the flood plane. The trail then drops down to a natural stone bridge at about 2.5 miles. Then uphill again as the trail parallels Watkins Mill Road coming out on a driveway at about 2.6 miles. Turn left up the driveway to Watkins Mill Rd. then right along the shoulder. (Note: for those hiking south, the mailbox at the driveway has number 20201.) The bridge provides the best road crossing point since there is better visibility of the traffic and a sidewalk on the other side. The parking lot is just the other side of the bridge.
Watkins Mill Road to Brink Road (1.4 miles)
Watkins Mill was a three story wood frame grist mill located on the west side of Seneca Creek and the south side of Watkins Mill Road (across Watkins Rd. from the parking lot, but on the same side of the creek). It was in operation as early as 1783. It's two mill stones were powered by an overshoot mill wheel fed by a quarter-mile mill race with a 10-foot drop. The mill race, or ditch, can still be seen running from the mill pond on the north side of the bridge. In the 1800's, it also served as a saw mill. It was destroyed by fire in 1908.
NOW THE TRAIL
The trail starts at the end of the parking lot by the large trail sign. As you start down the gravel road take the path on the right. It goes up through some trees to the top of the grassy knoll and down the other side. The trail then veers right and enters a wooded area of small trees. It continues along an old dirt road through the woods and crosses a small stream at about .3 miles from the trail head. It continues about 50 ft, turns left, and starts uphill through a wooded hillside. It eventually gains about 50 ft. After another 1/10 mile, the trail enters an area of numerous side trails for about .2 miles. Continue straight past the side trails following the blazes.
At about .6 miles the trail starts a gentle decline. At about .7 miles, you pass a massive sycamore tree on the opposite side of the creek. Its girth, measured 5 ft. up, is about 235 in. The Montgomery County champion sycamore is 250 in., so this tree is amongst the champions. At about .8 miles, the trail reaches the flood plane again and continues through the woods, following the creek. At about the 1 mile point, the trail crosses a bridge and about 50 feet later enters an open grassy area. At 1.3 miles, the trail hits a woods of small trees which continues to Wightman Road.
Brink Road to Huntmaster Road (1 mile)
During the Civil War, over 5,000 Union troops and two batteries of artillery were stationed at the Brink Road bridge over Seneca Creek. The Union Staff feared that Brink Road would be used for a surprise attack on Washington after the Confederate army invaded Maryland at White's Ford. This occurred in Sept. 1866, just before the Battle of Antietam. A historical marker is located on the far side of the bridge from the trail.
After exiting from the previous section of trail, cross Wightman Road and Brink Road towards the trail sign post. Pass by the trail sign and follow the edge of the woods. There are newly planted trees in tree tubes along the trail. Seneca Creek is on your left. Follow the tree line bearing right around a corner. Look for another trail sign post marking the trail's entrance into the woods. The entrance is about 500 feet from the road.
The trail is on the flood plane with an abundance of skunk cabbage growing in the area. It runs parallel to the Goshen Branch of Great Seneca Creek. Another 300 or 400 feet brings you to the bridge crossing Goshen Branch. The trail enters an open grassy area with scattered small trees. It bears left through the grass, keep an eye out for the blazes. At about 1/4 mile from the trail head, you hit a grassy path. At about 1/2 mile the trail enters a wooded area. It follows along the foot of a hill. The new cut parts of the trail are rough in spots. Some side trails come in on the left. At about 3/4 mile, the trail is close to Huntmaster Road. At another trail sign post, it takes a sharp right turn uphill and parallels Huntmaster. The road is narrow with no safe shoulders to walk along. The trail is steeply sloped and bumpy in places, take your pick. The trail parallels Huntmaster until it comes out on the road.
Huntmaster Road to Route 124
The ruins of Davis Mill are located near the intersection of Davis Mill Road and Huntmaster Road. If you walk 80 to 90 feet north on Davis Mill Road (upstream) from the intersection with Huntmaster, you can see the remains of the stone foundation walls. The mill run ditch is along the shoulder of Davis Mill Road extending north for about .2 miles. Davis Mill was powered by a turbine wheel.
The trail crossed Huntmaster Road and enters the woods by the end of the guard rail. It crosses a soggy area then follows along the foot of a wooded hillside. At times near the creek, the trail stays above the marsh. After 1/3 mile, the trail bears left and down to a grassy area with bushes leading to a more open area with sparse trees. After crossing this field, it go up a slight hill and past a large gnarled white oak tree. It continues on the hill overlooking the creek about 40 feet below until it reaches another open grassy area with small junipers and deciduous trees. The trail bears right across this area and enters the woods again. Again atop the rolling hillside overlooking the creek, the trail passes a sidetrail on the right and crosses the top of a gully.
At .9 miles, the trail goes uphill (look downhill for a bench and view of the creek) and turns between the end of a large fallen tree and a standing, broken off, dead tree. Continuing thru the rolling wooded hillside, it crosses a gully or two and descends to the floodplane. At 1.1 miles it rounds a large rock outcropping and goes up a steep hillside about 30 feet then bears right. It passes a shortcut on the left which drops down the gully and up the other side. The trail contours around the gully, passing thru an old dump and comes out on a fiber optic clearing. It follows this clearing towards a pipeline clearing running perpendicular to it.
At the pipeline clearing the trail turns right and follows the edge of the clearing down a slight hill for about 100 yards. Just before the bottom of the hill, the trail turns right into the woods. It continues thru the woods behind a housing development. It drops down slightly and crosses a muddy area on cement steps, then a shallow stream on stepping stones. The trail them gently rises thru the woods until it meets the pipeline clearing. It crosses the clearing veering slightly to the right and enters the woods on an old roadbed at about 1.4 miles. The trail followes the roadbed, with its slight ups and downs. It then crosses a small stream and goes up thru a gully then passes a side trail on the right. The trail is about 30 feet above the creek and across the creek from a large open field. It passes by the end of a large downed tree and goes downhill along a fence line.
At 1.8 miles there is a trail intersection, go left. The trail crosses a small stream in a muddy area on stepping stones and then comes to the bank of Great Seneca Creek. This is a treacherous crossing since one must wade across the wide creek on slipper underwater stones. The county once planned to have a bridge here but never follow through on that plan.
After crossing the creek, the trail heads away from it across the muddy floodplane. At the edge of the hillside, you bear right and contour around the base of the hillside about 4 feet above the bog. About 3 minutes after crossing the creek, you cross a small stream on stepping stones. The trail continues along the base of the hillside. At 1/4 mile from the creek crossing, the trail bears left and gains elevation heading up a ravine. At this point, keep an eye out for a sharp right turn off this path. The turn is marked with a blue blaze on a post and a black arrow pointing the turn. You don't want to go all the way up the ravine. The trail crosses a muddy area with some small streams. Stepping stones are provided for their crossing. On the left is a steep hillside with some buildings on top. At .4 miles from the creek crossing, you enter a field with small trees. Follow the blazes along the edge of this field. After 3 or 4 minutes you will come to a mowed field, continue along the edge next to the marsh. When you reach the corner of the field, you will see a rusted metal pole. This is a park boundary marker. At this point the Greenway trail ends and the Magruder Branch trail begins. Turn left at the boundary marker and follow the trail along the edge of the field out to Watkins Road. See the Magruder Branch Trail description for more details.
Route 124 to Hawkins Creamery Road
This section remains to be built.
Hawkins Creamery Road to Route 108
This section remains to be built.
Route 108 to Patuxent River State Park
This section remains to be built.
BACK TO MAPS AND PARKING
BACK TO MAIN PAGE
This page was last updated on 1.08.12