Ting! goes the bell as the biker passes by and announces, “On your left.” Thump, thump, thump, thump as the runner jogs past on the other side of the trail. Shhhhhh…the wind whispers through the trees as the dry fall leaves rustle and float down to alight upon the path. Crunch! I step on a dry brown leaf that crumbles underfoot.
As I round the soft bend approaching Mile Marker 6.0, the Dalecarlia Tunnel comes into view in the distance. A woman is walking her dog toward the tunnel. It looks like a golden retriever perhaps as its tail swishes from side-to-side.
As they enter the tunnel with its yellowish light bulbs all in a row lining the ceiling like bread crumbs to lead the way out, an airplane rumbles overhead as it zips toward Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. As I soon enter the tunnel, I can almost hear the echo of the last train to run through it in 1985. “Whoo! Whoo!” would have sounded the whistle and I can almost hear the distant clack, clack, clack of the wheels that once rolled over the track where now only the ghost of it remains.
The last vestiges of fall color the landscape as I emerge from the tunnel and take in this perfect autumn 73-degree day; a rare and wonderful treat! It may perhaps be the last warm day of the year and I am so glad to be able to carve out some time to walk the Capital Crescent Trail – one of my favorite treasures of Bethesda.
For those who are not familiar with the trail, it was formerly known as the Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad, created in 1910 and then converted to a trail 78 years later thanks to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.
The Capital Crescent Trail spans a 10-mile distance from Silver Spring, MD to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. It’s a favorite of 2-wheeled commuters, athletes and people who just stay fit while enjoying the outdoors. One of the spots I appreciate most on the trail is the Dalecarlia Tunnel which was constructed in 1910. If you look closely when walking through it, you will notice 4 “duck ins” – carved areas that were made for people who were stuck in the tunnel when a train would come; the train was probably shipping coal from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown in D.C. The Roman arch brick tunnel is 18′ wide and 341′ long. You can find the Tunnel between mile marker and 6.0 and 6.5. It sits almost right at the Bethesda-D.C. line.
There are many places to access the Capital Crescent Trail. A popular spot is on Bethesda Ave., across the street from Barnes and Noble. Take some time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Trail. At any time of year you will enjoy a beautiful and relaxing experience. You may come across deer, a fox or even one of your neighbors also taking in this special place.