MD 97 runs through the Washington, D.C. suburbs in Montgomery County, connecting several communities including Silver Spring, Wheaton, Glenmont, Norbeck, and Olney. It continues north from there into rural areas of Howard and Carroll counties, passing through the Carroll County seat of Westminster, before reaching the Pennsylvania border.
MD 97 has two stretches along which it is a part of the National Highway System. The highway is a principal arterial from its southern terminus in Silver Spring north to Brookeville Road in Brookeville. Within that section, MD 97 is an intermodal connector from I-495 north to MD 192 in Forest Glen. The highway is also a principal arterial from MD 32 at Fenby north to MD 140 in Westminster and from MD 140 in Westminster to a point south of MD 496 north of Westminster. MD 97 is a part of the main National Highway System along its concurrency with MD 140 in Westminster.
View north at the south end of MD 97 at US 29 in Silver Spring
MD 97 begins at an intersection with US 29 and MD 384 (Colesville Road) in downtown Silver Spring in Montgomery County, heading north on Georgia Avenue, a six-lane divided highway. From the route’s southern terminus, Georgia Avenue continues south as part of US 29 toward Washington, D.C. MD 97 passes commercial areas of high-rise buildings in Silver Spring before heading into residential neighborhoods. The route intersects the northern terminus of MD 390 (16th Street), which heads south and becomes 16th Street Northwest upon entering the District of Columbia. Washington Metro's Red Line begins to run below the route at this point. It continues north as a six-lane undivided road with reversible lanes through commercial areas before coming to a modified cloverleaf interchange with I-495 (Capital Beltway).
Past this interchange, the road becomes a divided highway again and intersects MD 192 (Forest Glen Road) near the Red Line's Forest Glen station. MD 97 passes more residences and continues toward Wheaton. The road heads into business areas again as it intersects MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road) near the Westfield Wheaton shopping mall and the Wheaton station along the Red Line. A short distance later, the road crosses MD 193 (University Boulevard) and continues back into residential areas past that intersection. The route heads into a mix of residential and commercial areas as it heads toward Glenmont, where it crosses Randolph Road. A short distance later, MD 97 intersects the southern terminus of MD 182 (Layhill Road).
Intersection of MD 97 and MD 185 in Aspen Hill
From here, MD 97 turns northwest and passes the Glenmont station terminus of Washington Metro's Red Line before it runs through residential neighborhoods, heading to the northeast of Matthew Henson State Park. Farther northwest, the route passes businesses near the intersection with the northern terminus of MD 185 (Connecticut Avenue) in Aspen Hill. It turns north again past this intersection and crosses Bel Pre Road. After crossing Bel Pre Road, the route heads into wooded neighborhoods before it passes through a mix of businesses and houses, with MD 655 running to the west of the road. MD 97 crosses MD 28 (Norbeck Road) in Norbeck, and continues past some residences where it intersects MD 655A, a short connector that provides access to westbound MD 28. MD 97 enters more wooded areas and narrows to four lanes, interchanging with MD 200 (Intercounty Connector). A park and ride lot serving MTA Maryland commuter buses is located at the southwest corner of this interchange.
The route eventually passes parkland and residential areas as it crosses Emory Lane. The road approaches Olney and passes by residential neighborhoods before heading into a business district at the intersection with MD 108 (Olney Sandy Spring Road). After this intersection, the road heads into wooded residential areas as a two-lane undivided road and enters Brookeville. Upon entering Brookeville, MD 97 becomes High Street and passes more residences. The route makes a left turn onto Market Street and continues through wooded residential areas. It heads out of Brookeville, with the name changing back to Georgia Avenue. The road heads into a more rural setting, with areas of farms, woods, and some residences. MD 97 reaches
Sunshine, where the road crosses MD 650 (New Hampshire Avenue/Damascus Road). Past Sunshine, MD 97 resumes through rural areas and enters woodland within Patuxent River State Park as it approaches the Patuxent River.
Howard and Carroll counties
Northbound MD 97 approaching Howard/Carroll county border
MD 97 crosses the Patuxent River into Howard County, where it becomes Roxbury Mills Road, named after the Roxbury Mill built in 1753. It continues north, passing areas of woods and farms along with suburban residential developments. The road passes through the community of Glenwood and continues through agricultural areas before intersecting MD 144 (Frederick Road) in the community of Cooksville. A park and ride lot is located at the northeast corner of this intersection. A short distance later, the route has an interchange with I-70/US 40. Past this interchange, MD 97 becomes Hoods Mill Road and passes rural residential areas, intersecting Old Frederick Road. From here, the road winds through a mix of woods, farm fields, and residences before crossing the South Branch of the Patapsco River.
Upon crossing the river, MD 97 enters Carroll County and becomes Old Washington Road. The road crosses CSX's Old Main Line Subdivision railroad line as it passes wooded areas with some residences. It runs through a mix of woods and farms with some residences along the road. The number of residences increases as the route crosses Streaker Road in
Berrett. From here, MD 97 passes more residences before intersecting MD 850 (Old Liberty Road) at a roundabout. A park and ride lot is located northwest of this roundabout. A short distance later, the route intersects MD 26 (Liberty Road) at a folded diamond interchange in
Dorsey Crossroads. Past MD 26, MD 97 becomes New Washington Road and heads north through a mix of farmland, woodland, and residential neighborhoods, paralleled to the west by MD 854 (Old Washington Road). The road passes through woodland before intersecting Nicodemus Road, where it continues past farms and woods before heading west of a park and ride lot and crossing MD 32 (Sykesville Road) in
View north along MD 97 (Littlestown Pike) on the north side of Westminster
Past this intersection, MD 97 passes to the east of and heads into residential areas as it approaches Westminster, bypassing the center of the town to the east. The route becomes Malcolm Drive past the intersection with Main Street/Old Westminster Road and continues to an intersection with MD 140 (Baltimore Boulevard). Here, MD 97 makes a left turn to form a concurrency with MD 140 on Baltimore Boulevard, a six-lane divided highway. The two routes head through commercial areas on the outskirts of Westminster, passing by the TownMall of Westminster before meeting MD 27 (Manchester Road) at a folded-diamond interchange. Past this interchange, the road passes over the Maryland Midland Railway and heads past more businesses. At the Sullivan Road intersection, the road becomes College View Boulevard and a short distance later, MD 97 splits from MD 140 at an interchange near McDaniel College.
MD 97 continues north on Littlestown Pike, a two-lane undivided road. The road passes east of the Carroll County Regional Airport before heading into a mix of farmland and residences. MD 97 intersects the southern terminus of MD 496 (Bachmans Valley Road), and continues northwest through agricultural and wooded areas with intermittent residences. It passes through Union Mills, where the road intersects Old Hanover Road. MD 97 continues to the community of Silver Run, where it passes residences. Upon leaving this community, the route continues through woods and farm fields. A short distance later, MD 97 reaches the Pennsylvania border, where the road becomes PA 97 and continues north into Adams County.