North Branch Hiker-Biker Trail

Project Description

This project involved the development a facility plan for the North Branch Hiker-Biker trail that was approved by the Planning Board on June 27, 2013. The facility plan includes an analysis of the site’s environmental, cultural and visual features, a 30% complete preferred plan for the, a determination of regulatory feasibility, and a cost estimate for the project. The project is in final design to produce a set of construction documents.  The proposed trail will be located within both the Rock Creek Regional Park and the North Branch Stream Valley Park Unit 4 and is approximately 2.2 miles in length including connectors. The project is proposed in the parks’ Capital Improvements Program FY15-20 (CIP) to obtain funding for construction.

The south end of the proposed trail will connect to the Lakeside trail located on the east side of Lake Frank within Rock Creek Regional Park.  Construction in this vicinity will include the removal of unused roads and parking lots. Click here to view maps and details of the Rock Creek Regional Park’s trail system.

The trail will continue north to connect with Muncaster Mill Road and cross at the Emory Lane intersection. Park staff will coordinate with Maryland State Highway Administration and Montgomery County Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the intersection of Muncaster Mill Road and Emory Lane to improve the crossing safety. The trail will utilize the Emory Lane and the ICC Bikeways to connect to a future trail that is being built by a developer in the Preserve at Rock Creek Development. Coordination with DOT has occurred to complete the Emory Lane Bikeway.  Accessible trailhead parking will be provided along with interpretative signage and other amenities. Improved connections to the Meadowside Nature Center are also proposed.


The North Branch Trail is one segment of a continuous regional park trail system that would extend from the District of Columbia to Olney through the Rock Creek and North Branch stream valleys.  The hiker-biker trail system through Lake Frank and the North Branch of Rock Creek has been recommended in multiple master plans for many years, including the 1978 Master Plan of Bikeways, the 2005 Olney Master Plan, the 1985 and 2004 Upper Rock Creek Area Master Plan, the 1998 and 2008 Countywide Park Trails Plan, the 2000 Rock Creek Regional Park Master Plan, and the 2008 Upper Rock Creek Trail Corridor Plan.

Status/Project Update

Construction documents for the project are approximately 60% complete.  The scope of the project and trail alignment general follow the recommendations of the Facility Plan that was approved by the Planning Board in 2013, however small refinements have been made to improve accessibility and preserve surrounding natural resources.

Following a September 2017 public meeting and recently completed public comment period via our Open Town Hall forum, Parks staff will be returning to the Planning Board in the fall of 2017.  The focus of the Planning Board hearing is the potential relocation of the trail’s trailhead and parking lot from a site along Muncaster Mill Road just west of Emory Lane to a location along Meadowside Lane.  Additionally, Parks staff is proposing to relocate a proposed pedestrian-only bridge from the area around Meadowside Nature Center to a crossing just south of the Intercounty Connector.

In the fall of 2015, the project was awarded $2 million in matching funds through the Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives Program.  As a condition of the program, the construction drawings are currently undergoing one of several rounds of milestone reviews by the Maryland State Highway Authority for compliance with their structural design standards.

Construction documents for the project are approximately 60% complete.  A draft set of the contract drawings can be found on the top right side of this project page.

Calendar and Meeting Notes

Links to review meeting notes and Planning Board memos are attached to each applicable calendar event.




September 2011 Project initiated
September 19, 2012
7 – 9 p.m.
Community Meeting – To review possible alignments
– Community Meeting Public Notice
– Community Meeting slide presentation
Shady Grove Maintenance Yard
Training Room, Building B
16641 Crabbs Branch Way
Rockville, MD 20855
Fall 2012 Refine preferred plan, obtain preliminary permits, develop cost estimate
June 27, 2013 Planning Board approved the facility plan M-NCPPC
Montgomery Regional Office
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Fall 2013 Final design initiated
Fall 2015 Project awarded $2 million grant through the Federal Hwy Adminstration Alternatives Program. View the conditions here.
 September 13, 2017
7 – 9 p.m.
Community Meeting To update the community on the project and seek public input on the locations of the trailhead and parking lot. Lathrop E. Smith Environmental Education Center
White Oak Hall
5110 Meadowside Lane
Rockville, MD 20855
Fall 2017 Construction drawings undergoing review by the Maryland State Highway Authority
 November 30, 2017 Planning Board Meeting – To present amendments to the North Branch Hiker-Biker Trail Facility Plan. M-NCPPC
Montgomery Regional Office
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910

 Tell Us What You Think!

Montgomery Park Staff is seeking public comment on the proposed shift in the alignment to the new North Branch Hiker Biker Trail.  Give your thoughts and comments here.  For additional information, please contact Project Manager. and/or Montgomery Parks.



Please contact the project manager if you have any questions or comments about the project:

M-NCPPC Staff Contact

Aaron Feldman, Project Manager

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Last Updated: November 7, 2017