Although thunderstorms raged the night before, the Cabin John Creek subsided and the sun shone brightly May 28 for the inaugural Cabin John Creek Challenge, which drew some 50 participants including nine Cabin Johners.
Organized by the Friends of the Cabin John Creek (FoCJC), the challenge involved walking the 10 miles of the CJ Creek trail from Goya Drive in Rockville all the way down to the Potomac River. Hikers also had/have the option of hiking the various trail segments over the course of 2022.
A special thanks to Cabin Johner and FoCJC Board member Scott Hoffman for setting up the water and information stations along the trail and to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club for keeping the trails well maintained.
Prior to the start of the hike, State Delegates Marc Korman and Sara Love presented a citation provided by the General Assembly in Annapolis and a proclamation crafted by the county. Both documents celebrated the CJ Creek and the efforts of the FoCJC to advocate on the creek’s behalf. FoCJC board member Greg Gurley then spoke about the threats to the creek, especially stormwater runoff, as well as various aspects of the 10 miles ahead. Then the eager hikers were off.
An early treat was the evidence of beavers, but none were sighted that day. Prior to the hike, Greg and another board member, CJ resident Jon Putnam, had placed educational QR codes at pertinent spots in the path to educate walkers on particular watershed subjects. Lunch was taken on the benches beneath the large sycamore tree at the Locust Grove Nature Center off of Democracy Blvd. There was a really lovely stretch of mountain laurel in bloom in the section between Bradley Blvd. and River Rd.
In the end, the larger group broke into three smaller groups as they made their way downstream towards the Potomac, thus allowing everyone to hike at their own pace. All participants received the lovely “CJ Creek Challenge 2022” sticker on the basis of either completing all 10 miles that day or with the promise of finishing the remaining segments sometime this year.
The Challenge is the first of the outreach and educational events/activities that FoCJC is planning as part of the new $53,000 grant received from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Montgomery County Dept of Environmental Protection. This event seems likely to be repeated each year from here on out.
The hope is that over time the M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks, who were very supportive of the Challenge, along with the County/State DOT offices, will work to make the trail more continuous with improved crossings at the highways and also continue managing stormwater runoff into the creek. The Cabin John community should be extremely proud of nurturing and supporting FoCJC over all of these years.
By Burr Gray
President, Friends of the Cabin John Creek