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Upper Paint Branch Natural Surface Trails

Division: Park Planning and Stewardship

Upper Paint Branch Stream Valley Park is one of the Commission’s thirteen Best Natural Areas (BNA’s) in Montgomery County.  BNA’s contain the best examples of park natural resources, including features such as large wetlands, high-quality aquatic resources and forests, diverse native vegetation, uniquely spectacular topography, and bedrock formations, and/or unique habitats that are scarce and/or fragile.

Parkland in the Upper Paint Branch has been acquired primarily to protect sensitive resources, including a high quality (class III) fishery with a self-sustaining brown trout population, large areas of forest that provide important habitat for many migratory bird species, three plant species considered rare in the State of Maryland, and several unique archaeological resources.

Project Description

Upper Paint Branch Stream Valley Park does not offer adequate access to the public and there are numerous people’s choice natural surface trails to gain access to the park. In an effort to manage both the park’s sensitive resources and provide the public’s use of the park, Park staff initiated a natural surface trail planning process. The plan was to provide public access via sustainable natural surface park trails while making sure these new trails offer logical connections to effectively serve trail users in this part of the county. This process began with a review of the park’s resources and an understanding from the public’s perspective about how they currently use the park and connect to community facilities such as regional bike-ways, schools, and recreation centers.

The Planning Process

The planning process for this project included extensive public outreach, two public meetings, a review and approval of Staff recommendations by the Montgomery County Planning Board.

At the first public meeting, park staff reviewed the current park conditions, the existing relevant policy for trail-related recommendations in area master plans (listed below), and the 2016 Countywide Park Trails Plan. 

At the second public meeting, park staff presented preliminary recommendations and sought feedback from residents and stakeholders.

During the Planning Board review, the staff presented the final analysis, recommendations, and an implementation schedule for their approval.   The public was encouraged to attend the meeting and provide testimony on this project to the Planning Board.

Existing Relevant Policy

Public Outreach

Public outreach for this project includes this project web page, public meetings, media posts, and email campaigns to individuals and registered Homeowners and Civic Associations.

Notices and updates are available on the Parks Media Center, via the Parks and Planning E-newsletter, and on our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #FutureTrails.


Please find the information below related to the project schedule, meeting notices, Planning Board memos, and presentation materials.






Staff Research and Analysis  

June 22

Public Meeting #1 – Information gathering and public input opportunity. Marilyn J Praisner Library 14910 Old Columbia Pike Burtonsville, MD 20866


Staff Analysis – Parks Staff development of the Preliminary Recommendations

November 8

Public Meeting #2 – Presentation of the Preliminary Plan Recommendations and Public input opportunity. Marilyn J. Praisner Library 14910 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville, MD 20866

July 26

Planning Board Presentation – Review of Staff Recommendations. The public is encouraged to attend and submit testimony.

Staff recommendations were be presented to the Montgomery County Planning Board on – item #3, watch online,  staff memo (PDF, 2.2MB), 

Planning Board Approval of Staff Recommendations.

Final Plan link: PowerPoint presentation (PDF, 5.6MB)


M-NCPPC – Montgomery Regional Office (MRO)Auditorium 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910* Times for Board items are subject to change, please check the Planning Board Agenda before the meeting.

2019 – 2021

Trail Construction Phase I

Trail Construction Phase II

Cloverly Local Park, Peachwood Neighborhood Park

East of Peach Orchard Road

* Date and time subject to change. Please confirm the schedule on the Montgomery Planning Board Agenda webpage closer to the date.


Darren Flusche, Trails Program Supervisor
M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks, 2425 Reedie Drive, Wheaton, MD 20902 | (301) 495-2475

Last Updated: August 2, 2022