A "Letter" to Capital Crescent Trail Users
As a result of your hard work and generous contributions our trail is a beautiful and heavily used success. Bikers, bladers, joggers, runners and walkers, commuters and recreational users of ALL SPEEDS and AGES enjoy its 'car-free, park-like setting'. Unfortunately 'car-free' does not mean 'danger-free' and success has brought congestion and thus increased danger to the trail. Serious accidents involving hospital convalescence and police investigation have occurred.
Our trail has over 1 million users per year, is quite congested at times, and has users moving at a wide range of speeds, from 1-2 miles per hour up to 20-25 miles an hour (excessive but real). We have been experiencing more serious accidents on the trail and we urge ALL users to exercise greater caution, courtesy and alertness.
Copperheads have been sighted on the trail multiple times in 2020 thru 2022, with their brown diamond markings. So far, all reported sightings have been between Georgetown and the Canal Rd bridge, and most have been around dusk. Riding or walking over a copperhead may cause it to strike, so using a headlight or flashlight is highly recommended at and after dusk to see and so avoid them. If you see a snake on the trail, back away quietly if close to it, then pass by while keeping away from it. DO NOT poke snakes or throw things at them - that will make them more likely to strike.
Please follow the safety tips below:
Bikers and Bladers:
In addition to the "All Users" safety tips:
Hikers and Walkers:
- On the National Park Service (Washington DC) section of the CCT, Class 1, 2, and 3 E-Bike use is permitted, as long as they are pedaled and obey the 15 MPH speed limit. Throttle-only E-Bike use is not permitted. E-Scooters, mopeds, and hover-boards are not permitted. This NPS policy came out in August 2019. This C&O Canal National Historical Park Biking page has details at the bottom.
- Montgomery Parks policy allows Class 1 E-Bikes and many E-Scooters on all their paved park trails, including the CCT. This policy directive was issued on 3/25/2021. For a more readable description of what is and is not permitted, with photos, see the "Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) Definition" section of the otherwise-obsolete Montgomery Parks E-Bikes and E-Scooters Pilot Program page. Mopeds, hover-boards, and Throttle-only (no pedaling) E-Bike use are not permitted.
- Rental Bikes and Scooters left on the trail are an ongoing problem. Rental users, PLEASE do not leave whatever you rented on the trail, where someone might run into it. Please park it off to the side.
Cyclists: Use effective lights to be safe after dark, but PLEASE, do not use a bright flashing headlight while you're on the CCT
Trail users are reporting that the flashing white strobe lights some cyclists are using as headlights can be disorienting and are very irritating. Cyclists, please use a headlight with a steady beam, aim it low (not straight out into other trail users eyes), and use a moderate brightness setting if possible. Bright and strobing lights for great for getting drivers attention on the road, but are just too bright on the trail. We are all safer if no one is confused or blinded by your lights.