The Indian Head Rail Trail, Maryland

You have rail trails, and you have the Indian Head Rail Trail.  It was once a rail line that connected the Naval Base in the town of Indian Head in the U.S. state of Maryland.  Today, it is a leisurely along what was once a major supply railroad.

The Indian Head-White Plains Railroad was built to supply a power facility at the Indian Head Naval Facility, and it was a big asset during World War I and World War II.  It connected the base with a spur line that served much of Southern Maryland with the Pennsylvania Railroad in Bowie, Maryland.  Considering the distance the train traveled to get to the main line, it took a little while for the railroad to transport the power to other areas.  With the American highway system growing to include roadways like U.S. Route 301 crossing the Potomac River south of the base and Maryland Route 210 connecting the base with the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge to the north, the railroad saw its demise, and the line was abandoned in the 1960’s.

In 2010, the Indian Head Rail Trail was born.  Today, you can ride your bike or walk or jog along a trail that followed the rail line from Indian Head, Maryland to a point near the base to a location White Plains, Maryland just west of where is crossed U.S. Route 301.  (The spur line is still active from the connection to the original Pennsylvania Railroad line in Bowie, Maryland mainly following U.S. Route 301 to a refinery on the Potomac River just east of the Potomac River Bridge.  It is mainly used by coal trains.)  At the White Plains Trailhead, you can see an old caboose painted in the colors of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.

There are many parking areas along the trail.  (Please note that there is no parking at the Indian Head trailhead.  Parking is in a nearby park off Maryland Route 210.)  It is paved making it accessible to wheelchairs as well.

Each section of the trail takes you by swamps and ponds with much wildlife.  You can imagine what the engineers saw as they were supplying the U.S. Navy.  You will not even notice that you are surrounded by development.

Next time you are Southern Maryland, make your way to either Indian Head or White Plains.  Hike along a trail where trains once served the United States Navy.

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