Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail

Lace up your walking shoes and follow the signs on this self-guided Cultural Tourism DC Neighborhood Heritage Trail to experience Brightwood in northwest DC. Indulge your inner Civil War buff in one of DC's early communities, where you'll see the site of the only Civil War battle to take place within the boundaries of the District of Columbia.

The 18 poster-sized, illustrated signs of Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail combine storytelling with historic images and maps for a great afternoon outing. Come and discover the personalities and forces that created this intriguing urban community!

The first sign is located at 5427 14th Street, NW, at the southeast corner of Kennedy and 14th Streets at Colorado Avenue, NW. The 90-minute, self-guided tour loops through the Brightwood neighborhood and ends at the southwest corner of Georgia Avenue and Peabody Street, NW. Feel free to begin anywhere along the route, which is mostly on flat terrain.

Walkers are encouraged to follow the trail at their own pace, sampling neighborhood character, businesses, and restaurants along the way.

For more information, email us at or call 202-355-4280.

Please note: When planning your visit please note that Sign 14 (6226 Georgia Avenue, NW) is temporarily down.

From Sign 13 continue south five blocks on Georgia Avenue to Quackenbos Street NW to reach Sign 15.


Even before Emancipation, free African Americans (one of whom, Elizabeth Proctor Thomas, appears on each sign) settled in this area as early as the 1820s. Eventually a small community that also included landowners and European American farmers arose centered on today's Georgia and Missouri Avenues.

Along with nearby Battleground National Cemetery, Fort Stevens is a daily reminder that the Civil War greatly affected the citizens of DC. In July 1864, Union and Confederate soldiers fought a momentous battle here, supported by residents and DC militia and witnessed by President Lincoln himself.

After the Civil War, Washington's peacetime economy soared. Over time Brightwood boasted a popular racetrack, country estates, and sturdy suburban housing as well as an ethnic mix of families, government clerks, and professionals.

Today Brightwood stands as a neighborhood that has welcomed generations whose aspirations have shaped its life and character.

Along the way you'll see:

  • Fort Stevens, where President Lincoln became the only sitting U.S. president ever to come under enemy fire!
  • The small and stately Battleground National Cemetery – final resting place of 41 Union soldiers
  • The launch point for the first-ever recorded "March on Washington"
  • The location of Washington's first club for "automobilists"

In addition, the trail showcases attractive houses and apartments, nearby access to Rock Creek Park, and longstanding houses of worship.


Download the trail map PDF.

Download the trail guidebook PDF.

Download the Spanish-language trail guidebook PDF.


Cultural Tourism DC, Inc., initiated the District of Columbia Neighborhood Heritage Trails program with two goals in mind: helping visitors find their way around Washington's historic neighborhoods and promoting community pride.

Each trail is conceived with the active involvement of neighborhood organizations and residents. For Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail, the Brightwood Heritage Trail Working Group and the Military Road School Preservation Trust served as local partners. Mary Konsoulis served as community historian. Design by Karol Keane Design and Communication, based on the original design by sideview/Hannah Smotrich.

Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail is a project of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the Brightwood Heritage Trail Working Group, Patricia A. Tyson and Brian A. Lang, Co-chairs; and the Military Road School Preservation Trust. Funding provided by District Department of Transportation, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Brightwood Heritage Trail can also be found along the Potomac Heritage Trail route.


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