Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm | HIKER-BIKER TRAIL

Hiker-Biker Trail near Oxon Cove

Hiker-Biker Trail near Oxon Cove

Length: 2 miles, one way
Time: 1 hour on foot, 20 minutes by bike
Difficulty: moderate

The Hiker-Biker Trail runs from the Oxon Hill Farm parking lot all the way to the Oxon Cove Park boundary on the Maryland-Washington border. It is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. In fact, at the border you are at the northern terminus of the Southern Maryland Potomac Heritage Trail Bicycling Route, which proceeds south out of the park via city streets all the way to Point Lookout. You can also continue north into Washington along city streets to join with the Fort Circle Parks portion of the Potomac Heritage Trail. This review, however, covers only the portion of the trail within Oxon Cove Park.

Northern terminus of the Southern Maryland Potomac Heritage Trail Bicycling Route

Northern terminus of the Southern Maryland Potomac Heritage Trail Bicycling Route

As the name implies, the trail is open to both hikers and bikers; I chose to ride my mountain bike. From the parking lot at Oxon Hill Farm, look for the left of two entrances into the park, the one with a Potomac Heritage Trail sign posted on the fence. This gravel road is part of a long oval that circles the farm. You eventually need to get to the other side, either by taking a right at the Visitor Center—the first intersection you come to—or by continuing farther down the road and cutting in front of the Mount Welby farmhouse and riding through the lawn and down a steep hill to connect with another gravel road that leads to Oxon Cove at its confluence with the Potomac River. The best way to go is to turn at the Visitor Center, for this puts you on the road that leads to Oxon Cove.

Start of the Hiker-Biker Trail at Oxon Cove Park

Start of the Hiker-Biker Trail at Oxon Cove Park

The road to Oxon Cove takes you down a very steep hill that lasts three-quarters of a mile—I wasn’t looking forward to coming back up. The road is loose gravel until you reach the bottom, and because of this I do not recommend taking a road bike on the trail unless you walk this segment. If it were flat, the gravel may not be such a problem, but heading down a steep hill on loose gravel with thin tires is just asking for an accident to happen.

Typical gravel terrain of the Hiker-Biker Trail

Typical gravel terrain of the Hiker-Biker Trail

At the bottom of the hill the gravel road dead ends into a paved road. Take a right and in .2 mile you will come to another intersection. Oxon Cove is just around the corner to the right.

Paved path through farm fields at Oxon Cove Park

Paved path through farm fields at Oxon Cove Park

There is nothing particularly scenic about Oxon Cove, for on the opposite shore is an industrial area. Also, about every inch of shoreline is littered with garbage. This is no reflection on the park itself, but on the residents of Washington, D. C., who toss so much trash into the river that there’s no way to keep it from washing up on the shore. The park does host a volunteer cleanup on the first Sunday of each month from 1 PM to 3:30 PM. Call the park at (301) 839-1176 for more information.

Trash along the Oxon Cove shoreline

Trash along the Oxon Cove shoreline

Once you get away from the Potomac and farther down Oxon Creek, things get more scenic and less trashy.

Oxon Creek

Oxon Creek

In about .75 mile from the time you first see Oxon Cove, you will come to a bridge that spans Oxon Creek. Once across, in less than a quarter mile you will reach the end of the trail at an industrial complex and a low-income housing project. As mentioned earlier, the trail continues through the streets of Washington and eventually connects with another segment of the Potomac Heritage Trail, but as far as Oxon Cove Park is concerned, this is the end of the line.

End of the Hiker-Biker Trail at Oxon Cove Park

End of the Hiker-Biker Trail at Oxon Cove Park

On bike, the out-and-back ride took me about 45 minutes. It’s a four-mile trek, round trip, which will take most people approximately an hour and a half on foot, not counting any stops along the river. I can’t see biking the trail just for the sake of biking it as I did, for it only makes sense if you are continuing into Washington along other segments of the Potomac Heritage Trail.

What would make sense is taking the trail down to the cove to either go fishing or to see birds. On a Ranger-led birding hike to the river that I did earlier in the day, the group spotted about two dozen different birds: a bald eagle, cormorants, orioles, cow birds, cardinals, starlings, geese, and others I can’t remember. This is a popular area for bird watchers and nature photographers.

Geese along the Hiker-Biker Trail

Geese along the Hiker-Biker Trail

Back to the Top


Last updated on April 17, 2020
Share this article