Officials pose before the groundbreaking of the new trail in North Potomac. Credit: Joe Zimmermann

Officials from Pepco and Montgomery Parks took shovels to the cold ground beneath power lines in North Potomac on Thursday to break ground for a new trail that will span 6 miles across Montgomery County.

The trail, which will follow the path of Pepco power lines, will connect the Muddy Branch Stream Valley and South Germantown Recreational Park, home of the Maryland SoccerPlex.

The trail is a partnership between Pepco, which owns the land, and Montgomery Parks, which will construct the trail. The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, a nonprofit for bikers, will maintain the trail after it’s built. Pepco was required to allow trails to be built along its utility lines in the county as part of its merger with Exelon, which was announced in 2014.

“This will mean so much to the county, the residents, from an environmental perspective and from a recreational perspective as well as from an aspect of just being out here and enjoying the open space,” Pepco Region President Donna Cooper said. Representatives from the county and Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts also attended the groundbreaking.

Montgomery Parks director Michael Riley said that building more trails is a priority for the department, and the new trail can be used both for commuting by foot or bike and for enjoying the outdoors.

“It will provide so many benefits of connectivity, helping people get from point A to point B, to and from schools,” he said. “It’ll provide a venue for families to come out and exercise and recreate and experience nature.”

In red, the approximate path of the trail from Muddy Branch to South Germantown Regional Park. Via Google Maps

About 80 percent of the unpaved trail will be completed by May, according to Melissa Chotiner, a spokeswoman for Montgomery Parks. This trail will serve as an interim route until a 13-mile paved trail can be built between South Germantown and Cabin John at a later date.

Dave Magill, a spokesman for Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, praised the new trail and said Montgomery County has one of the best urban trail systems in the country.

“Someday I think there will be a hugely popular trail corridor right here, both paved and natural trails, and all kinds of uses, including commuters choosing to get out of their cars,” he said. “We are more than proud to be bringing this vision to life.”