With a renewed sense of adventure, I set out on my bike with cycling map in my pack and a vague sense of where I was going. And I was thrilled to discover a wonderful loop that very nearly connected two paved, off-road trails.
I set out on Sligo Creek Parkway, part of which is closed on Sundays, wandered around Wheaton Regional Park through some nice housing developments and ended up on a country road with entrances to the much-touted Brookside Gardens.
After just a short stretch on a bicycle lane on a busy road, I discovered a new path named for the African-American polar explorer Matthew Henson, who turns out to have been a Maryland native. That 4.5-mile trail wandered through some woods, over wooden bridges and past some grazing deer (one of which I nearly ran into rounding a bend). Then it connected with the much longer Rock Creek Trail that winds through Rock Creek Park. I headed back toward DC on that, and 7 miles or so later was in the Rock Creek National Park and more closed roads for cyclists and walkers.
Up a steep hill out of the park and onto city streets for several blocks unil I was back in Takoma Park and on the homestretch.
I figured it was about a 30-mile loop and one I’ll repeat again.