Welcome to the Capital Cresent Trail

MDOT says CCT along Purple Line will open earlier, in spring 2026

Recent: Video on Georgetown Branch history and becoming the CCT

Trail closed east of Bethesda for Purple Line project thru spring 2026
Official signed detour
Alternate detour routes courtesy of WABA

Welcome to the Capital Crescent Trail

The Capital Crescent Trail (CCT) is a shared use off-road trail from Georgetown, D.C. to Silver Spring, MD (currently closed and detoured between Bethesda and Silver Spring), suitable for walkers, joggers, bikers, and rollerbladers. The Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, an all-volunteer organization, has spearheaded efforts since 1986 to develop this first-class shared use trail.

The CCT is a rail-trail, built on the former route of the 11 mile Georgetown Branch of the B&O (later CSX) Railroad. The Trail is complete as a 10" wide hard surface asphalt trail from Georgetown to Bethesda, with 5 notable bridges and a tunnel offering users gentle gradients, with grade-separated crossings at all but 2 roadways (Little Falls Pkwy and Dorset Ave).

The Trail at the Dalecarlia Tunnel
The Trail at the Dalecarlia Tunnel

The trail was a mix of gravel and dirt from Bethesda to Lyttonsville in western Silver Spring, however that was closed in September 2017 for Purple Line light rail line construction on the Georgetown Branch right-of-way. When trail construction as part of the Purple Line project completes, tentatively in spring 2026, a 12 foot wide paved trail will run alongside it, almost entirely grade-separated between Bethesda and downtown Silver Spring. This shared use was anticipated from the beginning of the CCT, and is a core part of the Railbanking rules that enable many rail-trail conversions.

Purple Line construction completion was originally predicted for 2023/4, but now for late 2027. A large part of the delay is due to 3 lawsuits brought against the project, and the resulting change of lead construction contractor after major contract disagreements in 2020. Another big delay source is the larger than projected number and complexity of utility relocations required. The CCT segment was supposed to open when the Purple Line started passenger service, but in May 2024 MDOT changed position, saying the CCT would open in spring 2026, over a year before the Purple Line. Our page on "The Purple Line and completing the CCT" has more information.

This links to the Purple Line page on Trail Connections, including the Capital Crescent Trail.
* Click this link for the official signed Montgomery County Department of Transportation Alternate Trail Route (it's long, and unpleasant in places).
* Click this link for several shorter, nicer detour routes offered by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA).

Our Know the Trail History page presents a more complete description of the Trail and its rich history. Use our Directions, Parking & Access page to find directions to the Trail and services available along the Trail.

A 2006 Survey shows that the Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the nation. A 2015 Montgomery County "State of Bicycling" report reinforces that. But much remains to be done to complete this wonderful trail and to make it a delight for all. The Trail will not be finished until it is completed as a paved off-road trail into downtown Silver Spring, which the Purple Line project should achieve. The Coalition continues to work to complete the Trail and to provide features to make the Trail more attractive and fun to use.

YOU CAN HELP:

  • Support the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Our Donate page shows how to make a donation.
  • Volunteer for trail maintenance or other trail building efforts. Our Volunteer page lists opportunities to help.
  • Join our CCCT Officers and Board at our monthly meetings for opportunities to get involved in ongoing projects. Meeting information is on our Volunteer page.

If you have questions or suggestions for the CCCT, please Contact Us.