Rides We Love: Indian Head Rail Trail

By Becky Strode

Do you love FLAT? This is the ride for you!

The Indian Head Rail Trail is a paved biking/walking trail that stretches 13 miles between Indian Head and White Plains in Maryland’s Charles County. It is a joy to ride. Pancake flat, with the excellent pavement, you’ll zip along like Greg LeMonde! The trail’s wide lanes are especially nice for trike riders.

The trail provides essential services for a comfortable outing. There is a water fountain at Mile 1 (counting from the Indian Head trailhead) and at Mile 13 (the White Plains trailhead). There are also flush-toilets at the White Plains trailhead and portajohns at approximately Miles 7 and 11.

Red-headed Woodpecker, Indian Head Rail Trail. Photograph by Becky Strode
Red-headed Woodpecker, Indian Head Rail Trail. Photograph by Becky Strode

The trail offers exceptional scenery as it follows the Mattawoman River and passes through extensive wetlands. It’s a birdwatcher’s delight: I’ve even seen Red-headed Woodpeckers on the standing dead trees in the swamp alongside the trail between Rt. 224 and Rt. 225. I’ve also seen Pileated Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, an Indigo Bunting, and—twice—a family of wild turkeys. It seems they like to stroll along the trail, too! You can also get a close look at beaver lodges and dams, and you may see deer. There are interpretive signs along the way to enrich your viewing pleasure.

In 2006, the National Park Service gave the rail corridor land to Charles County under the federal lands-to-parks program. The county spent $3 million to convert the tracks into a paved trail, and the Indian Head Rail Trail opened to the public in October 2006. In recognition