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Countywide Park Trails Plan Amendment

branding Countywide Park Trails Plan
A comprehensive amendment to the Countywide Park Trails Plan that uses updated methodologies, tools and strategies to plan and implement major park trail systems throughout the County.

What’s Next?

Trail planning staff will return to Planning Board for feedback and public input for evaluating unsanctioned (unofficial) trails in the Upper Paint Branch and Cabin John watersheds with the possibility of converting them into sanctioned, sustainable multi-use natural surface park trails that may also provide important connections to nearby parks and facilities.


New Methods, Tools and a “Loops and Links” Trail System Framework

This plan amendment introduces a new “Loops and Links” system along with updated methods and tools for park trail planning and analysis.

The  plan aims to be more achievable and sustainable, ensure all trails are built as sustainably as possible, serve as many trail users as is feasible and possible, and achieve maximum Levels of Service based on trail user needs and desires, and population density calculations.

M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks’ major trail systems include 108 miles of hard surface and 155 natural surface trails. The Countywide Park Trails Plan (CWPTP) has guided park trail planning since 1998. The plan established a county-level vision for natural and hard surface park trails.

Learn more about our trails in this YouTube video – May 2013

Innovative at the time, earlier versions of the Plan did not have the benefit of new methods and tools available today. This led Montgomery Parks to revisit the Plan to address various needs, concerns and reflect other recent changes in long range park planning (Vision 2030 and PROS 2012).

The Need for an Amendment

Innovations in GIS mapping and Resource Analysis have helped Staff more efficiently and accurately analyze impacts of proposed/planned trails. These tools allow Staff to minimize environmental and natural and cultural resource impacts and anticipate other implementation difficulties. In addition, the Vision 2030 Strategic Plan also provides data and recommendations for better Level of Service analysis countywide. This plan will use these tools to conduct more detailed analysis at the countywide master planning level.
This plan amendment strives to:

  • Incorporate recommendations from the
  • Apply current theories and best practices for long-range park (and trail) planning
  • Identify and recommend solutions to implementation issues
  • Adjust trail alignments to rely less on easements across private land
  • Align CWPTP recommendations with Area, Sector and Functional Master Plans, and identify and propose possible remedies for inconsistencies
  • Ensure plan recommendations are consistent with policies of other land management agencies (WSSC, PEPCO, DNR), as well as adjoining counties and municipalities
  • Reorganize and clarify the plan language to be more logical and useful
  • Clarify the decision making processes for which trails are suitable for which user groups
  • Clarify the role of park trails as recreational facilities versus transportation facilities

Previous Amendments

In February 1991, a staff study, A Planning Guide to Trails for Montgomery County Parks (pdf) was completed. The first Countywide Park Trails Plan was approved and adopted in July 1998, and amended in March 2004 and September 2008.

  • 1998 Countywide Park Trails Plan (pdf)
  • Countywide Park Trails Plan Update 2008 (pdf)

Various Community Area, Sector and Functional Master Plans along with the following Park and Trail Corridor Plans have since amended the Countywide Park Trails Plan.

  • Woodstock Equestrian Park Master Plan (2004)
  • Muddy Branch Stream Valley Trail Corridor Plan (2002) 
  • Amendment to add a “Trail Planning Process” (2003)
  • Blockhouse Point Conservation Park Master Plan (2004) 
  • Rachel Carson Greenway Trail Corridor Plan (2005) 
  • Little Bennett Regional Park Master Plan (2007)
  • Upper Rock Creek Trail Corridor Plan
  • Intercounty Connector Limited Functional Master Plan Amendment (2009)

Outreach strategy

Public outreach for the CWPTP Amendment began during the Vision 2030 Strategic Plan process in 2010.  Park planning staff met with representatives from trail user groups to help shape the goals and objectives for the strategic plan. Outreach efforts continued in coordination with the 2012 Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan as well.

Staff relied on this web page to keep citizens updated throughout the planning process. Interested citizens and civic groups were encouraged to contact the project manager to become part of our e-mail lists.

Public outreach for this project included this project web page, public meetings, press releases and email campaigns to Homeowner and Civic Associations in the Clarksburg Planning Area. We will also use an online comment tool, our E-newsletter, social media channels using the hashtag: #trailplanning on Facebook and Twitter, and the Parks Department Media Center.

An informal Trails Working Group helped identify issues and shape the plan objectives and will continue to advise the plan throughout the planning process. This working group is comprised of representatives from park trail stakeholder groups including: Conservation Montgomery, Montgomery Bike Advocates, Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE), Hiking Along, Inc., Park trail volunteers, Trail Conservancy, Montgomery County Road Runners Club and Trail Riders of Today (TROT).

Staff continues to coordinate closely with the Planning Department and the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and has consistently sought input from the Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group (MCBAG), environmental groups such as Conservation Montgomery, and the Countywide Recreation Advisory Board.

Media Center

  • FEBRUARY 8, 2016 – MEDIA RELEASE: Parks Department Encourages Community to Testify Before the Planning Board on Public Hearing Draft of Countywide Park Trail Plan Amendment
  • SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 – BLOG POST: Paperless Airplane. Hike, bike, roll, stroll, run, ride…. got trails?
  • AUGUST 26, 2015 – MEDIA RELEASE: Montgomery Parks Seeks Public Input at September 16 Meeting on Future Updates to the Park Trails
  • JULY-AUGUST 2015 ONLINE ARTICLE: Bethesda Magazine. Capital Crescent Trail Congestion
  • JANUARY 27, 2015 ONLINE ARTICLE: Bethesda Magazine. Montgomery County Council Asks for Recreational Trails along Power Lines as Condition of Utility Merger
  • JUNE 10, 2013 – MEDIA RELEASE: Montgomery Parks to Host Public Meetings on Amending the Countywide Park Trails Plan
Last Updated: April 8, 2024