If not comfortable parking on side of road, can park at nature center and then hike a 1/2 mile to trail.

I loved this trail. I couldn't find the trailhead, so I entered it through the Oak Ridge trail next to the Nature Center. I recommend bug spray for the ticks (or long pants if weather permits). I almost stepped on a snake on the path, so be mindful. Everyone with dogs had them off leashes. They were all well behaved and not a problem, but if you are taking your dog on the hike just be aware of this. No trash along the trail and it was mostly off the well-travelled, beaten trails. There is cell reception along the whole trail and the map on this app was actually was kept me from getting lost or adding hours to my hike. There are a lot of interwoven "unofficial", trails so it's easy to get off track.

I've lived in the area my whole life and NEVER knew of this trail! We started at Brookside Nature Center (take the Oak Ridge trail down to the trailhead for the NW Branch trail. Overall, VERY muddy, but light traffic and a lot of fun. From the nature center it's an 8.5 mile loop, but it's fairly easy. Due to narrow trails and lots of vegetation, recommend long pants to avoid ticks.

Side note: Lots of birds around! Saw some beautiful cardinals and a Great Blue Heron, too!

In my opinion one of the best trails near DC. Flagged in blue. Sometimes it can be confusing because of the many branch trails, but you. It going to get lost, just may back track. It's pretty well kept. I suggest starting down at Burnt Mills and doing the 7.5 mile loop on heading north, walking in the east the west sides of the river. You can see the trail map here http://www.montgomeryparks.org/PPSD/ParkTrails/trails_MAPS/trailmap_pdfs/NWbranch_trail.pdf

I well recommend it.