Trail Guide Map 4
This portion of the hiker/biker trail is about one mile long, barring exploration of tempting side trails. Heading downstream on the bike-trail from Forest Glen, one travels through a meadow prior to passing under the Beltway. The trees around the open area are good places to see Red-shouldered and Red-tailed hawks, both of which nest in the watershed. After the beltway under-pass, there is an area to the left of the trail that was cleared of invasive vines and planted with trees about six years ago. They are protected by fencing to keep deer from destroying them. The deer population is considered by Park biologists to be several times larger than can be sustained by the local ecosystem. One of their impacts is to make it difficult for small trees and shrubs to fill in under the large ones. There is a discussion of the impact of deer in the FOSC website under Plants and Animals.
A little farther, a bridge carries the trail over the Flora Lane Tributary. An unpaved trail follows it upstream until it goes under a street near Georgia Avenue. To make this trail a loop, there is a meandering trail that circles back along the hill between the Beltway and the stream. In a couple of places the stream bed had been engineered to slow its flow and improve habitat for stream critters. These include American Eels, the largest type of fish that is known to inhabit the waters of Sligo.
The paved trail continues downstream skirting “Crosby Woods” on the left— a good place to notice flowers and birds, especially woodpeckers. After the woods, the trail splits: one part passes over a bridge over Sligo; the other stays on the right bank. The one on the bank skirts a wet area that contains a thriving colony of Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus). That trail rejoins the other path after passing over a bridge a couple of hundred yards later by a popular playground where another tributary joins the main stem. Both trails have several interpretive signs put up by Montgomery Parks about eight years ago. They explain various natural features of the local stream area.
Across the creek from "Crosby Woods" is a mowed play field that is regularly used for soccer. It has an official parking lot and during the warmer months, an out-house. Upstream is a meadow area that is being gradually naturalized by planting native plants, removing non-native plants, and less frequent mowing. Just upstream from the meadow is a small complex of storm water ponds that help with run-off from the Beltway. Beaver, Red-winged Blackbirds, herons, and butterflies have all been seen here. Plus a pair of Canada geese regularly raise young by the ponds.
Across from the Parkway from the soccer field is Sligo Creek Golf Course. The 9-hole course is the oldest public course in the County. It dates back to 1923 when it was called Argyle. The current clubhouse built in 1958 has FLUSH TOILETS AND A SIT-DOWN CAFE.
Back at the juncture of the paved paths by the play-ground, there is a small parking lot near where Dallas Avenue intersects with the Parkway. The paved bike path continues along the left bank of the creek to Colesville Road. While interesting enough, the unpaved trail on the other side of the creek is less crowded, and has a more natural atmosphere as it snakes around large trees and skirts a wet-land. It also affords more chances to see such flowers as Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica), Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), and Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) in season. The wet-land even has a miniature cypress swamp (one medium tree with about ten knees).
If you have visited the area near the play-ground too many times, an alternative to the paths noted above, is to take the hill up Dallas Ave to take a peek at the Park Headquarters. Starting at the intersection with the Parkway, walk up Dallas. To your left, there are glimpses of the golf course; to the right a nice woods. At the top of the hill, the Headquarters is on your right. The one-story former school built in 1934 as Parkside Elementary, has been nicely converted to house the Headquarters of Montgomery Parks. During business hours there are various brochures and maps just inside the entrance. Montgomery County has one of the finest and most extensive collection of parks in the whole country. Be grateful.
You can rejoin the bike trail after leaving the Headquarters by heading east down the driveway, then going right on Brunet Ave back to the Parkway.