A mountain bike ride at Schaeffer Farms, once a prosperous dairy farm in the early 20th century, will give you fresh, new perspectives on Montgomery County's rich Agricultural Heritage. Until 1972, Germantown was a sparsely populated rural farming settlement. Today, despite the town's rapid development, it's Historical District Center and outside edges which include surrounding forests, farms and historic roads have been preserved. Black Rock Road, Burdette Lane and a section of Schaeffer Road are protected by the county's "Rustic Roads Program". Many of these roads started out as paths through the forest built by early Native American inhabitants and later by area farmer's in order to get their wheat and corn to the mills.
Mountain biking began at Schaeffer Farms way back in 1994 when a group of mountain bikers built the first trails. Today, the expanded and well curated trail network is an integral part of the major Seneca Creek State Park Trail system. Schaeffer Farms is jam-packed with goodies. The trails offer everything from short spontaneous mountain bike rides to all day mountain biking epics featuring cream of the crop smooth singletrack and doubletrack trails through corn and soybean fields, beginner to expert-level MTB challenges and the opportunity for breaks to visit several historic sites and farms along connecting trail routes.
The Schaeffer Farms Trail Network is the mountain biking hub within a Regional Wide Trail Network. It's mountain biker "catnip" and one of the most popular bicycle away from Washington D.C destinations.
Schaeffer Farms Trail Connections
Schaeffer Farms is configured as series of loop trails with connectors that feed into over 60 miles of area trails and greenways. These require several creek crossings. Use caution during the spring melt and after periods of heavy rain. The water can be deep and the current swift. Besides getting your feet wet, it's possible you might end up doing a half submerged fat tire paddle.
Hoyles Mill Trail: 6.3 miles
From the back of the Schaeffer Farms Trail network, you can access the Red Trail which connects to the Diabase Trail which in turn provides a connector to the Hoyles Mill Trail and subsequently Black Hill Regional Park.
Pepco Trail: 6.8 miles
In October 2018, Phase One of the Pepco Powerline Trail was completed. It's a 6.8-mile natural surface singletrack trail connecting the Muddy Branch Stream Valley to South Germantown Recreational Park.
Seneca Ridge Trail: 5.8 miles
Provides a natural surface singletrack connection between Schaeffer Farms and Seneca Creek State Park / Clopper Lake and features beautiful scenic vistas of Seneca Creek. The route passes the circa 1815 Black Rock Mill.
Seneca Bluffs Trail: 7.5 miles
This is the sibling of the Seneca Ridge Trail. Singletrack that extends from the intersection with Black Rock Road at Black Rock Mill to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath at Rileys lock.
A well-designed trail system consisting of color-coded, interconnecting loops that travel over wholesome and delicious singletrack trails along the edges of farm fields sprouting corn and soy, beautiful upland woods and along shimmering creeks and scenic river bluffs. The mountain bike centric Schaeffer Farms trails feature dips and short climbs, log jumps and ramped log hops, successions of high performance hills (aka whoops) and creek crossings. What's also cool are the opportunities to branch off and explore trail spurs like the Seneca Ridge Trail or the Seneca Bluff Trail. These not only offer exciting riding opportunities but also feed into over 60 miles of area long distance natural surface trails and greenways.
This is the perfect for go to spot for mountain biking and to develop and improve your mountain biking skills.
Mileage / Blaze: blaze White , 3.5 miles, Easier to Moderate
Flowy, hilly singletrack through forest and along farm field edges. This is the easiest trail to ride and makes for a great warm-up in either direction. The trail intersects with the more challenging Yellow Trail (6 miles). Together with the Blue Trail (1.0 mile) and Red Trail (.9 mile), you can configure rides of varying lengths and time to match and/or up your mountain bike skills. At the far side of the loop there are branch trails that offer fun technical challenges. These include the Whoop Trail for rollercoasters or the Seneca Ridge Trail which also leads to Black Rock Mill and the Seneca Greenway Trails.
Mileage / Blaze: blaze Yellow, 6 miles, Moderate
A lariat shaped trail that lassos into almost every other trail in the park. From start to finish, this is the longest trail in the park. The trail generally follows the contours of Seneca Creek and crosses it several times. The terrain and farm "parkosphere" varies from smooth tracks through hardwood forest to open fields. Technical challenges include log overs, rooty and rocky sections.
Mileage / Blaze: blaze Red, 0.4 miles, Easy
The Seneca Creek Connector Trail heads north along the Little Seneca Creek as it crosses Schaeffer Road and connects to the singletrack Diabase Trail for a downhill ride to the Hoyles Mill Connector which heads towards Black Hill Regional Park. This avoids having to cut through the Germantown SoccerPlex.
Orange Trail: 1.8
Mileage / Blaze: 1.8 miles, Moderate
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Mileage / Blaze: 1.2 miles, Moderate
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Trail Highlights and Nearby Points of Interest
The Black Rock Mill (circa 1815), is located on Seneca Creek at Black Rock Road. It is partially restored with outdoor interpretive exhibits.
The Seneca Schoolhouse: Located on Route 190 west of Seneca, is a restored 19th century one-room schoolhouse, originally built for children of the Seneca Sandstone quarries along the Potomac River.
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Historical Notes: Close Encounters With Agriculture
Montgomery county ranks third in the nation among U.S. counties for agricultural land preservation. There are also 558 registered farms in Montgomery County. About one third of Montgomery County’s land is deeded for agricultural use only
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Schaeffer Farms is south west of Germantown, Maryland. A permanent parking lot is located off of Schaeffer Farms Rd. The property is bordered by Schaeffer Farms Rd to the north, Black Rock Rd to the east, and Darnestown Rd (Rt. 28) to the south.
Take I-270 to exit 15B, Rt.118 west. At about 5 miles turn right onto 5 miles onto Richter Farm Rd. Turn left at 4-way stop onto Schaeffer Rd., go through the traffic circle and shortly after the road narrows look for Seneca State Park on left.
Trailhead is at the end of parking lot after gate.
Bike Club Website: MORE