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

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 of the trail’s excellent design and scenic beauty, Indian Head Rail Trail was named “Trail of the Month” by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in July 2011.


The trail can be accessed from several locations.

⦁ There is no parking at the Indian Head trailhead, but parking is available about a half-mile away. Turn left off Indian Head Hwy (Rt. 210) onto Mattingly Ave. just before reaching the entrance to the naval base. There is a parking lot at a nice little park on the banks of the Mattawoman R.

⦁ There is a parking lot at the White Plains trailhead (on Theodore Green Blvd., near its intersection with Rt. 301).

⦁ There is limited parking at about Mile 3 where the trail intersects Rt. 224.


--Becky Strode


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