Southern Maryland: Tidewater Potomac Heritage Bicycle Route
This 5-day bicycle tour starts at Fort Washington Park at the Prince George’s County Potomac Heritage On-Road Bicycle Route as a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.238 miles, averaging 41 miles a day for the first four days, with options for short-cuts on each day. 52 miles back to La Plata on the last day, with another 20 miles back to Fort Washington National Park.
42 miles – Fort Washington Park to Bel Alton
The tour begins Fort Washington Park. Fort Washington is the only permanent fortification built to defend the river approach to the Nation’s Capital. Follow the route south to Smallwood State Park, and then cut across through Pisgah to Port Tobacco where you can explore and eat lunch. Chapel Point Road will take you past St. Ignatius Church to the Motel Bel Alton. After you check-in, you can bike or drive 5 miles to Pope’s Creek for a seafood dinner on the Potomac.
28 miles – Bel Alton to Charlotte Hall
Head back down to Pope’s Creek, across Rt. 301 and up through Amish country to Charlotte Hall, where you can have lunch at Bert’s 50 Diner. After lunch riders can visit the nearby farmers’ markets and/or bike a 13-mile loop to the lake and park Gilbert Run. Here you can enjoy fishing, pedal boating, row boating and canoeing from March to November. Several good restaurants are within walking distance of the Charlotte Hall Motel for dinner.
42 miles – Charlotte Hall to Leonardtown
The route passes many Amish farms as you dip down to Chaptico, Bushwood, and Avenue, along St. Clements Bay. Grab lunch along the bay and then cycle back up and around to Leonardtown. You can paddle here, as well as enjoy the Leonardtown Winery, Wharf and Water Trail. You have a wide choice of places for dinner, including the Café des Artistes, and you can stay at the Relax Inn for the evening.
45 miles – Leonardtown to Wynne
Out of Leonardtown, follow backcountry roads down to Valley Lee, up to Great Mills, and then Route 5 to St. Mary’s City. This quaint, historic town along the river is a perfect place to grab a bite to eat. Then continue down Route 5 toward Point Lookout to the 1828 Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula, with the Potomac River on one side and the Chesapeake Bay on the other. There is also a nature center in Point Lookout State Park and a Civil War Museum to explore (there may be a $3 per person entry fee). Retrace the route back a few miles to Wynne where you can watch the sun set over the Potomac. Courtney’s has been recommended as a great seafood restaurant, and you can stay at the Scheibles Restaurant and Motel for the night.
52 miles – Wynne to La Plata, the 20 miles – La Plata to Fort Washington
This is a long day, so you may want to get an early start as you head back to La Plata. Once you get back to La Plata, you will need to go the 20 extra miles to get back to Fort Washington, if that’s where you left your car.
For information on the map of the Tidewater Potomac Heritage Bicycle Route produced by the Adventure Cycling Association with assistance of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Office, National Park Service, visit http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/tidewater.cfm.