Twofer: MeKee-Beshers and Riley's Lock

Alexandria Area Walking & Hiking Group
Alexandria Area Walking & Hiking Group
Public group

McKee-Beshers WMA parking lot

Hunting Quarter Road · Poolesville, MD

How to find us

At the west parking lot on Hunting Quarter Road, GPS 39.083538, -77.405003

Location image of event venue


Let's meet at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area for a hike through the sunflower fields, plus a walk along the C&O Canal at adjacent Riley's Lock!

NB: There is limited parking at McKee-Besher WMA, so group size is capped at 24.

The route: The hike is divided into two parts: a 2.5-mile hike in McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, and a 3-mile hike at Riley's Lock along the C&O Canal towpath, with two out-and-back legs east and west of the parking area, plus a short excursion to check out Seneca Quarry.

• For the first part, we'll meet at 9:00 am in McKee-Besher WMA at the west parking lot on Hunting Quarter Road, Poolesville, MD 20837, GPS[masked], [masked]. (NB: This is NOT the main field parking lot on Sycamore Landing Road!) The hiking surface is flat, dirt and gravel roads with some stretches of mown grass. After completing the first part, which should take no more than an hour, we'll get back in our cars and drive the 5 miles/10 minutes back along River Road to Riley's Lock. See

• For the second part, we’ll meet at Riley's Lock parking lot, 13015 Rileys Lock Rd, Poolesville, MD 20837, GPS[masked], [masked], and hopefully get started shortly after 10:00 am. The hiking surface is flat dirt and gravel, and the second part should take about an hour.

The total hike is about 5.5 miles of smiles and should take about 3 hours at a moderate pace, including the time to move from McKee-Besher WMA to Riley's Lock.

Google map:

How to get there:

To McKee-Besher: From the I-495 Capital Beltway (either direction), take exit 39 for MD-190 W/River Rd toward River Quarry Pl and drive 11.5 miles, passing through Potomac along the way. At the sign marking the end of MD-190 and the junction with MD-112/Seneca Road, turn left to stay on River Road and drive another 4.5 miles. (You will pass a couple of signs for McKee-Besher WMA along the way, but neither one is your turn!) Turn left onto Hughes Rd and follow it for 0.1 miles as it turns left and becomes Hunting Quarter Rd. The parking lot is another 0.2 miles along, in front of a couple of jersey walls. See

To Riley's Lock from McKee-Besher: Exit the way you came in, along Hunting Quarter/Hughes Rd. Turn right onto River Rd and drive east 3.8 miles. Turn right onto Riley's Lock Rd and drive 0.7 miles to the parking lot at the end. See

• NB #1: There are often bicyclists along River Road, so allow yourself a little extra driving time to get to the hike.

• NB #2: Watch out for speed traps! There are speed cameras in several places along MD-190/River Road, notably around Potomac, MD.

What to bring: Water, comfy shoes and your furry friend if desired (leashes please). Sunscreen and insect repellent are highly recommended.

Weather: The forecast is mostly sunny and a high of 92F, with[masked]% chance of showers and 8-10 mph W winds. Updates here:

Advisory: As a reminder, this is an adult group, and you are ultimately responsible for your own safety and well-being during events. No one under 18 years of age is allowed at this event, either as members or as guests, to include babies in carriers and/or strollers.

Administrative stuff: There are public restrooms (the portable type, I’m afraid) at both Rileys Lock and Violette's Lock, but none at McKee-Besher WMA. There are no drinking fountains at either location.


• C&O Canal:

• McKee-Beshers WMA:

• Seneca Aqueduct/Rileys Lock:

• Seneca Quarry: