Cabin John Regional Park


Cabin John Park is most visited at its ball fields, playgrounds and ice rink.Many long-time area residents have childhood memories of being brought there by their parents and climbing in the playground at one time or another.Situated between the affluent neighborhoods of Bethesda and Potomac, itís a close by place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs.Many hiking trails are maintained through the park but the most important of these is the Cabin John Trail maintained by the Appalachian Trail Hiking Club.This unpaved trail goes about 7.5 miles from MacArthur Blvd. near the Cabin John Bridge, to Goya Rd. on the edge of Rockville city limits.Most of the trail is very nice and with care can be run upon. The part of the trail nearest MacArthur Blvd. is rough with steep up and down hills on difficult slopes.It parallels the Cabin John creek though some of it, once closer to the creek has been relocated to the shoulder ofRiver Rd.North of River Rd., itís used by walkers, mountain bikers, and runners.North of Democracy Blvd., signs indicate that mountain biking is not allowed.


Getting There


From Virginia or Potomac Maryland

Use the American Legion Bridge and the Capital Beltway (I-495), to get to the I-270 spur headed west.Take the first exit 1.5 miles later for Old Georgetown Rd. (Rte. 187).Turn left (south) at the stop light.After four-tenths of a mile turn right on Democracy Blvd.After 1.8 miles, turn right into the Locust Grove Nature Center and Tennis Center parking.


From Silver Spring or Prince Georges County, Maryland

Take the Capital Beltway (I-495), to go to the I-270 spur headed west.Take the second Democracy Blvd. exit west, 0.7 miles later.After 0.8 miles and crossing over the other I-270 spur, turn right into the Nature Center and Tennis Center parking.


Area Routes


Cabin John Park North (4.5 or 5.65 miles, V or VI)

From the parking lot near the wooden bridge for the Locust Grove Nature Center, go downhill through the lot, passing the tennis center on your right.Enter the woods and switch back down the Pine Ridge Trail (red blazes) to Cabin John Creek.After following along the creek upstream for a short way, cross a small open field and pick-up the Cabin John Trail (blue blazes) in the woods.The Cabin John Trail goes up and down hills breaking away from the creek and coming back to it a few times.Watch for the blazes closely because many other trails, some maintained, some not, may lead you astray.Climb up and away from the creek paralleling the power lines and passing some side trails leading to the athletic fields on your right.Continuing to follow the Cabin John Trail blazes, cross the power line clearing and begin a long gentle downhill.At the bottom is the turn for the option to extend the route across Tuckerman Lane.The option loops through the campgrounds mostly on a gravel road.Otherwise bear right uphill, leaving the Cabin John Trail and eventually pick-up a paved trail that goes through the playgrounds.Youíll also, pass the amphitheater, picnic tables and park headquarters on the trail.There are several water and restroom opportunities along the way.Cut across the parking lots when the paved trail ends near the kiddie train station, and take an unpaved trail back to the Cabin John Trail.The intersection is just before the point where the Cabin John trail crosses the power line clearing.Follow the Cabin John Trail back from there all the way to the Nature Center and the start parking lot.


Central Cabin John Park (6.1miles, VI)

This route goes out down the Cabin John Trail to River Road, and loops back on Seven Locks Road.The Cabin John Trail is fairly well blazed and mostly easy to follow to River Road.After crossing inside the beltway (not on this route), it hillier and has more difficult footing.Begin the route following the trail and carefully crossing Democracy Blvd. (no crosswalk).Detour off the trail and onto Seven Locks Road briefly to skip a short awkward section with poor footing.Once across Seven Locks and back on the trail, follow it mostly downhill and along the Cabin John Creek.Two uphill parts to be encountered are short but significant.The trail is frequently used by mountain bikers and can be muddy in places.Beautiful mountain laurel line the trail and the rocky creek bed.Watch for tree roots and occasional rocks on the trail.Cross Bradley Blvd., continuing on the trail and when you reach River Rd. turn left using the shoulder.The way back on Seven Locks Rd. uses an asphalt sidewalk path for most of the way.It begins with a 75 ft. climb over 0.25 miles and climbs another 40 ft. to Bradley Blvd. before dropping back down into the Cabin John Creek valley.The descending stretch however, requires using the shoulder of the road which can be busy at times.Those uncomfortable with road running should not use this return route.Stay on the trail to return instead.Those using the road can finally pickup the Cabin John Trail again for a climb (90 ft. vertical) back to the Nature Center parking lot.Plenty of wildlife such as deer and kingfishers can be seen during the day on the Cabin John Trail throughout this route.


Nearby and Connecting Zones


C&O Canal, Lock 7

C&O Canal, Carderock


Rock Creek Park, Ken-Gar Palisades


What to do Afterward


Food and Drink

Hamburger Hamlet (301) 897-5350

Chesapeake Bagel Bakery (301) 530-6900

Sutton Place Gourmet - 301 897-8480

Montgomery Mall Food Court


Entertainment and Edification

Ice Skating in Cabin John Park - 301 365-2246

Glen Echo - 301 492-6229

Clara Barton House - 301 492-6245

Cabin John Park North

Distance:††††††††† 4.5 or 5.65 miles

Rating:††††††††††††† V or VI; dirt and paved trails, with small but occasionally steep hills


4.5 Mile Route


††††††††† 0.0†††† from parking at the wooden bridge near the Nature Center, go downhill through the parking lot; pass the tennis center on the R


BR†††† 0.1†††† Pine Ridge Trail (red blazes)


R†††††† 0.25†† to stay on Pine Ridge Trail at the bottom of hill, at the Cabin John Creek


L††††††† 0.5†††† Cattail Trail (green blaze) across the field


L††††††† 0.6†††† CJ Trail (blue blaze) at T in the woods


R†††††† 0.75†† to stay on the CJ Trail at T after crossing small wooden bridge


R†††††† 0.9†††† to stay on the CJ Trail at T after trail X on R with green blaze and after crossing small wooden bridge

††††††††† 1.0†††† trail X on R at switchback on uphill

††††††††† 1.05†† Hawk Ridge Loop on R


L††††††† 1.25†† to stay on CJ Trail (blue blaze); Gooseneck Loop on R

††††††††† 1.4†††† Diamond Circle Trail on R


R/L††† 1.6†††† to stay on CJ Trail; R is toward athletic fields; follow blue blazes


L††††††† 1.75†† to stay on CJ Trail (blue blaze); to power lines clearing


BL†††† 1.85†† trail X on R after power lines (begin downhill), follow blue blazes for CJ Trail


BR†††† 2.2†††† trail X on R; begin uphill

††††††††† 2.2†††† trail X on L to Tuckerman Lane


R†††††† 2.35†† paved trail toward playgrounds

††††††††† 2.45†† restrooms/water


BL†††† 2.5†††† after parking lot/park road, to stay on paved trail; ahead, pass amphitheater and picnic


L/R††† 2.75†† park road at end of trail; BR into and across parking area toward trail head

††††††††† 2.9†††† trail head


L††††††† 3.05†† CJ Trail (blue blaze) to cross power lines


R†††††† 3.15†† to stay on CJ Trail at trail X; follow blazes


R/L††† 3.3†††† to stay on CJ Trail at trail X; athletic fields are to the L; follow blue blazes

††††††††† 3.5†††† Diamond Circle Trail on L

††††††††† 3.65†† Goosneck Trail on L

††††††††† 3.85†† Hawk Ridge Loop on L


L††††††† 4.0†††† onto wooden bridge at bottom of hill to stay on CJ Trail


R†††††† 4.15†† to stay on CJ Trail at trail X

††††††††† 4.3†††† Cattail Trail on R

††††††††† 4.4†††† Oak Ridge Trail on L

††††††††† 4.5†††† Nature Center and parking past it



4.5 Mile Route*


BL†††† 2.2†††† follow blazes to Tuckerman Lane


R/L††† 2.3†††† at Tuckerman Lane onto bridge and gravel road toward campground

††††††††† 2.35†† trail X on R

††††††††† 2.5†††† campground parking on R (portable outhouse)

††††††††† 2.64†† trail X on L crosses creek

††††††††† 2.75†† CJ Trail turns L

††††††††† 2.95†† road ends at fence; go S toward campsites 6 & 7

††††††††† 3.05†† trail X for campsites 1, 6 & 7


BR†††† 3.2†††† at bottom of steep hill


L††††††† 3.25†† gravel road


L/R††† 3.3†††† Tuckerman Lane to CJ trail head (sign)


L††††††† 3.35†† at T; R is CJ trail (pickup cues at mile 2.35 on 4.5 mile route)

Central Cabin John Park

Distance: 6.1 miles

Rating:†††††††††† VI; dirt trails through the woods, asphalt path, and some roads w/narrow shoulders


†††††† 0.0†† from parking at the wooden bridge near the Nature Center; follow the driveway uphill toward Democracy Blvd.

†††††† 0.05 cross Democracy Blvd. to the CJ Trail head (sign and blue blazes)


R†††† 0.15 Bells Mill Rd (unmarked); downhill


S†††† 0.25 trail head at end of road


S†††† 0.45 concrete driveway down to Seven Locks Rd (CJ Trail turns L hereBleave it)


CL0.5†† Seven Locks Rd (! use shoulder)


R†††† 0.6†† CJ Trail head on R (sign)


R/L 0.75 on old abandoned road; sharp R after crossing a small stream on stones to stay on the CJ Trail (follow blazes)

†††††† 1.0†† trail X on L follows pipeline uphill

†††††† 1.85 Bradley Blvd

†††††† 2.45 trail X on L merges at big pool in creek; follow the main creek


L†††† 3.1†† River Rd (! use shoulder or turn around returning the way you came to avoid using the roads)


L†††† 3.55 Seven Locks Rd (paved trail)

†††††† 4.9†† Bradley Blvd (! use school driveway, then the shoulder of road)

†††††† 5.5†† CJ Trail crosses road (sign on L)


R†††† 5.6†† concrete driveway before Democracy Blvd

†††††† 5.65 CJ Trail joins from R

†††††† 5.85 CJ Trail bears L onto Bells Mill Rd (unmarked)


L†††† 5.95 to stay on CJ Trail at large boulder (follow blue blazes)

†††††† 6.05 Democracy Blvd (!)

†††††† 6.1†† parking at wooden bridge to Locust Grove Nature Center