Northwest Branch Trail

MODERATE 55 reviews

Northwest Branch Trail is a 7.9 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Silver Spring, Maryland that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
262 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

muddy

Parking available along the side of the road at trail head or at the Brookside Gardens and Nature Center

hiking
7 days ago

I love this trail for the creek that runs alongside it most of the way and that it's so close to home. It's secluded from the road so it's blissfully quiet and much less trafficked than the Matthew Henson trail. It's a packed dirt and gravel trail though, so some parts are a little rocky and it can be really muddy after a big rain storm. Wear bug spray!

walking
26 days ago

Didn't love this trail - there were very few hills or anything that made it feel like a good workout. Views were nothing amazing either.

hiking
1 month ago

We loved the trail but it is not what i would concider a moderate hike. We were hoping for a bit of a challenge. It was a nice walk though!

walking
2 months ago

Nice . Access was easy from Kemp Mill subdivision.
Quite. Lot’s of birds. Deer.

hiking
8 months ago

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

hiking
10 months ago

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.

hiking
10 months ago

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!

hiking
Sunday, March 12, 2017

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.

hiking
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pretty scenery with lots of interesting history. Not too challenging, at times there was a slight incline, but I got a good workout! Be sure to wear pants/bug spray. A lot of the trail goes through overgrown tall grass.

hiking
Friday, February 19, 2016

I live in the area bordering the NW Branch Trail. Just need to point out to the folks at AllTrails that when I click this trail it actually shows the Paint Branch Trail on the map view. This should be corrected ASAP. I am a new member and do not know how.

The NW Branch Trail is within view of houses during most of the path. However, it is very serene and usually you can barely hear traffic noise unless you are near a junction with a major road like US 29. My friends and I have hiked from around Kemp Mill to the Beltway on several occasions. Our tradition is to stop at California Tortilla for lunch!

This hike is a lot of fun for both adults and children alike. There are also some geocaches hidden in this area!

cross country skiing
Sunday, January 10, 2016

Little underrated trail with trailhead across from stables on Kemp Mill. You can hike toward colesville road or you can link up with Sligo creek trail. I recommend the former for a little of an uphill challenge. Bring a dog or partner because much of this trail is isolated and you don't get too much foot traffic.

fishing
Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lots of little sun fish, good for catch and release

hiking
Sunday, January 06, 2013

NOTE: The trail head indicated on the map above right is incorrect, nor is there any public parking available at that mark. If you travel north 1/4 mile, you will find the entrance to the trail on the right across the street from the park's horse stables. Parking is allowed both in the stable parking lot or along the road at the trail head.

This is a 7.4 mile loop that runs along the banks of the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River (thus the name). From the HEAD yoo will travel southeast on a paved trail to a "Y" where the returning half of the trail rejoins.
Staying straight at the Y keeps you heading south along with the west bank of the Branch. The back half of the trail loops to the north beginning at Columbia Pike and is natural trail.
The trail along the east bank light blue blazes, but not well marked in many areas. It is easy to get confused due to the many "local" spur trails that come in from the adjacent neighborhoods. When you question which to take, stay with the one closest to the stream.
Both sides have a tendency to be muddy in many areas, but easy to navigate around. There are at least two log bridges across the stream which you can use to cut the hike in half.

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