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.
The Schaeffer Farm Trails are part of Seneca Creek State Park. The park is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, while the trail system is maintained by MORE, (Mid Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts - Mountain Biking Club) and other local user groups. This 2,000 acre tract of woods and fields, bordering Great Seneca and Little Seneca Creeks, has been established as a recreation area serving mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians.
The 6,300 acre state park is a natural oasis within the suburbs of Washington D.C. and extends along 14 miles of Seneca Creek, as it winds its way to the Potomac River. The variety of habitats at Seneca Creek State Park include forest, fields, wetlands, streams and rock outcroppings. These provide homes for white-tailed deer, red fox, squirrel, turkey and raccoon. This is also an attractive birding area with over 200 species identified.
Several historic sites such as The Black Rock Mill and the Seneca Schoolhouse are located nearby and worth a visit before or after your mountain bike ride.
Park features include:
The Clopper Day-Use area: This is the more developed portion of the park which centers on 90-acre Clopper Lake with facilities for picnicking, fishing and boating. The Woodlands, a short self-guided trail located at the Clopper Day-Use Area park office, interprets the life and the estate of the Clopper Family.
Seneca Creek Greenway Trail: (no biking on Greenway within park boundaries. Equestrians are permitted on the section between Route 28 and Berryville Road.) The 16.5 mile trail follows the Great Seneca Creek from the Potomac River upstream to Route 355.
Schaeffer Farm Trails: Located in a more uncivilized area of the park, you'll have to settle for a port-a-potty located near the parking area off Schaeffer Road. But who cares! These trails are built by and for mountain bikers! Fast, smooth singletrack twists and turns through a habitat of second-growth hardwood trees. At the edge of the forest there are occasional glimpses across open fields and the surrounding countryside.
The trails are appropriate for all skill levels, although some sections will require the beginner to dismount. Intermediate riders should find most of the trails rideable and challenging with many dips and short climbs, creek crossings, log jumps and ramped log hops. This is a great place to develop and improve your mountain biking skills.
The White Trail, at 3.5 miles, is the easiest to ride and a great warm-up. It intersects with the longest and more challenging Yellow Trail (5.9 miles). Together with the Blue Trail (1.0 mile) and Red Trail (.9 mile) the network allows you to configure rides of varying length, time or skill levels.
Note: Be sure to stay on the marked trails. Gates are usually closed during the winter months, except when unusually dry. Do not ride when trails are wet or gate is closed. The trails can get quite crowded on weekends. A detailed trail map is available at the park office.
From the Schaeffer Farms Trail network, you can also pick up the Hoyles Mill Connector Trail, a combination of smooth dirt singletrack with some interesting rock gardens, grassy fields, gravel roads and an on-road section. The blazed trail is signed at major junctions. The trail travels north through Germantown Recreation Park (home of the Maryland SoccerPlex), Hoyles Mill Conservation Park and Boyds Local Park to the Black Hills Regional Park near Clarksburg. Riders will encounter some short hills and two stream crossings. Use extreme caution at Little Seneca Creek. It can get fairly deep with a swift current, especially during the spring melt and wet periods, too deep to cross safely.
Other hike/bike trails at Seneca Creek State Park include:
Lake Shore Trail 3.7 miles (moderate)
This mostly singletrack trail encircles Clopper Lake and offers scenic views of the lake as it travels through woodlands and open fields. The terrain is mostly flat but there are rooty sections. The bridges over streams offer good opportunities for wildlife viewing. Lookout for a variety of waterfowl, herons, fish, turtles and beaver activity. This trail is popular and usually crowded.
European settlers in the late 1600s found abundant game and fishing, and a climate and soil suitable for farming. Waterpower from the streams soon gave rise to the development of grist mills. Traces of the Black Rock and Clopper Mills are still visible. The Grusendorf Log House (1855), near the park office, is one of the few remaining structures from the original Germantown.
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.
For more information:
Seneca State Park
Phone: (301) 924-2127