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Mo Co Loop

Some 150 people participated in the inaugural MoCo Epic ride, put on by the Mid Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE). Montgomery County, Maryland, is home to one-fifth of Maryland’s population, but there were long stretches where you would never know that. Riders were treated to some 40 miles of trail connecting nine different county parks. The MoCo Epic reveals the possibilities for great riding in suburban landscapes: A common refrain from participants was, “I felt like I was actually going somewhere.” They were, of course, even if the riding was just outside their own backyards.
This is good terrain for single-speeds, though there are numerous short hills and rooty sections to provide an occasional dose of technical challenge. The route is primarily singletrack, but there are a few sections of paved paths to endure. Fear not: MORE is chipping away at creating an all-trail route, with 4 miles of new singletrack currently under construction.
Remarkably, all this riding is located less than an hour's drive from the White House and Capitol Building. It’s truly an oasis of green, and Maryland’s pleasant climate offers good riding conditions during most months of the year (portions of the trail close for winter, and summer days can be stifling). The county parks along the route offer another 30 miles of singletrack between them, so it’s easy to add mileage. The south end of the loop will soon connect to the C&O canal, a historic 180-mile dirt path running from the District of Columbia to western Maryland.
Photo by Joe Foley.
Location: Montgomery County, Maryland
Trailhead lat/long: 39.145938, -77.309546
Driving directions: Start at the Schaeffer Farm trailhead. From I-270, take exit 15 for Route 118. Go south about 3 miles, turn right onto Richter Farm Road, follow it for .6 miles, turn left onto Schaeffer Road, go through the traffic circle, continue on Schaeffer Road about .5 miles. The Schaeffer Farm trailhead and parking is on the left.
Length of route: 40 miles
Ride time: About 5 hours
IMBA-affiliated clubs: Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE)
IMBA-affiliated bike shops: The Bike Lane