This past weekend, I drove my motorcycle from Newark DE to Manassas VA and
back using "back roads." Below is my "too much information" report (some
of this is for me so I don't forget so I can do this again!).
First of all, let me say how useless AAA is for trip planning for this
tipe of trip. The AAA person wanted me to use the Interestate. When I said
I wanted backroads, she drew a pink line down US 1 to the Baltimore
Beltway. I explained I wanted to go north of Baltimore, then around west
of DC. She basically just connected dots on the map and not a good path
either. And despite me saying I wanted to use the Ferry, she said "Oh, you
don't want to do that," and drew me a route that went down US 15 over the
Well, forget that, so I tried Mapquest. That took a lot of fiddling
around, even with plotting various intermediate points so it too wouldn't
force me down the turnpike. Mapquest will send you way out of your way to
get some interstate miles in.
So I had to plot several subtrips...
- Newark to Blue Bell MD
- Blue Bell to Hickory MD
- Hickory to Hapstead
- Hampstead to Damascus
- Damascus to Martinsburg
- Martinsburg to Catharpin VA
- Catharpin VA to Manassas
Summary of my outbound routing (5 hours)
MD 273 - US 1 - MD 23 - MD 137 - MD 138 - MD 482 - MD 27 ~ MD 109 ~
... white's ferry ...
US 15 - VA 232
Summary of return trip (4 hours, 10 minutes, southern leg different)
VA 234 - US 15 - VA 7 - VA 9 - VA 287 - MD 79 - MD 180 - US 15 -
MD 27 - MD 26 - MD 482 - MD 138 - MD 137 - MD 23 - US 1 - MD 273
- No congestion entire trip. Yippee!
- A Beautiful relaxing drive
- Three Maryland Roundabouts!
- White's Ferry - neat
- Maryland state route system is illogical and not real helpful at times
Left Newark, DE heading west on SR 273 towards Conowingo Dam. A bit of a
boring road that hasn't change much in the 30 years I've been going down
it except for one neat thing. Just after Rising Sun at 276 there is a new
roundabout! This must have been a new installation within past year. It
would be the first of three that I saw during my trip.
Joined up with US 1 and head across the (toll free) Conowingo Dam towards
Hickory. At Hickory, headed west on MD 23. The next hour or so was the most
difficult, navigation wise. Idea was to head west towards Westminster, then
southwest on MD 27. But getting to Westminster is not easy.
Took MD 23 towards Jarrettsville. An interesting curiosity. I don't
think Maryland cares much for multiplexed routes. Something I
concluded on this leg of the trip and saw other examples as I
went. When MD 23 hit MD 165 in Jarretsville, it should multiplex with
165 north for about a mile, then continue west from there. Dog leg or
zigzag if you will. But at the T junction, instead of pointing right
for MD 23, it had a "TO 23" sign with a right arrow. As I head north
to Jarretsville, I saw another sign that said "Junction 23". I turned
left there. On the return trip through this area however, when I hit
165 from 23, there was no corresponding "TO 23" pointing south. No
signs whatsoever. Had I not known from the prior day's trip in
opposite direction, I would have continue straight at that
Looking at a map later, I saw that that road that continue straight is
called Jarretsville Road and continues to US 1, pretty much
paralleling 23 which was south of it. At one time Jarretsville Road
must have been MD 23 and that's why the discontinuous segments of MD
23 happened. They should really sign it better.
But enough of Jarettsville. Continued west on MD 23 for about 3 miles,
then turned left on MD 138. Except for the first mile or so, it's a fairly
narrow road, speed limits around 30 to 40. It snakes around until Hereford
where I had to go north for about 1/10 mile on 45, then left on 137. Life
would have been simpler had 137 and 138 been given the same route number,
but that would have meant having a multiplex for 1/10 a mile on 45, so I
guess we can't have that. Sigh...
Continued west on 137 until it dead ended on a road with no indication
of what direction 137 took. From the map I had, it seemed like 137
continued to Hampstead, but that was not the case. There *was* a sign that
said "TO MD 30" pointing left. I took that and eventually after a
couple of turns that thankfully also said "to MD 30" found my second
roundabout at MD 88. A 1/2 mile further was was Hanover Pike, which I went
north on for about 1/2 mile, then west on MS 482 until I reached "Mexico."
At Mexico I piked up MD 27. Finally, roughest part done. I took MD 27
south to Damascus. The route from Damascus to White's Ferry isn't very
straightforward. ie, not an easy set of signed routes. I branched off onto
Oak Road, then Kingstead Road, Burnt Hill Road, north on MD 355 for about
1/2 mile, then west on Comus Road (under I-270) to -- Comus! The plan at
that point was to turn left on MD 109, but the bridge was out, and
scheduled to be reopened on 8/26. Sigh, few days too early. So I continued
west and found the entrance to Sugarloaf Mountain Park. Nice.
Heading south towards MD 28, then followed MD 28 towards Beallsville,
down W Hunter Road, Wasche Road, then right on White's Ferry Road.
White's Ferry had a nice queue of cars waiting for it that backed up
outside their property limits. I didn't think I'd make it on to the next
Ferry, but when it pulled up, there was plenty of room for everyone. A
short ride across for $2.00 (m/c fare) and I was in Virginia!
White's Ferry Road dumps out onto US 15 near Leesburg. South on that
around Leesburg to VA 234 about 20 miles later. A short 6 mile drive down
that road and bango, soon as I go under I-66, congestion, traffic, massive
civilization. First mess I was in during the entire trip, and thankfully
For my return trip, I altered the southern leg of the route somewhat. I
headed north towards Leesbug on US 15, but then went west on VA 7, then
branched off to VA 9. then north on VA 287 towards Brunswick MD. A nice
road, and the bridge over the Potomac offered nice views.
And lo and behold, soon as you enter Brunswick, yet another roundabout! I
must be back in Maryland! Coming north out of Brunswich was a fairly
decent climb with speed limit 30 MPH. I saw two police officers "camping"
and running radar for the poor folks coming south down the hill.
I continued north on MD 79, then east on MD 180, which must have been
the old US 340 route. Over I-70 (no junction) and onto US 15 north
again, but not for long. Branched off onto MD 26 and took that until
MD 27, then retraced my steps back using same route I went out on.
The trip down took me just shy of 5 hours, with about 30 minutes spent
waiting or riding on the White's Ferry. The return trip was 4 hours and 10
minutes, and if I had just remained on US 15 instead of the scenic ride
through Brunswick, I probably could have got it down to 4 hours.
Total mileage each way was around 165-175 miles compared to 130 miles
using I-95, I-495, and I-66. When using the Interstate, I can do the
trip in 2.5 hours, provided there are NO traffic slowdowns. On really
bad congested days, it can take over four hours. Given the choice of
interstate and congestion, or a beautiful country drive, I'd go for
the scenic drive unless I was in a real hurry and felt like taking a
chance on the Interstate route.
Since my sister now lives in Manassas, I'll be taking more trips. The
drive is longer, but far more pleasant, although I'm not sure how
pleasant it will be if I am doing that run over and over! :)