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DC'S BEST BIKE TRAILS

9 PLACES

UPDATED MAR 16, 2020

Whether you’re looking for a new way to commute to work, want to take a tour of the monuments, or are itching for an outdoor adventure, DC has all the bike paths, trails, and lanes you could ask for. So, grab your helmet and get ready to go!

author

MEGHAN BARTLETT

FITT WASHINGTON-DC CONTRIBUTOR

The Mount Vernon Trail will take you all the way to—you guessed it—Mount Vernon. The trail provides 18 miles of paved paths from Theodore Roosevelt Island all the way to our first president’s estate. But the adventures don’t end there, as you can explore tons of other trails that intersect at various points to take you in and around Virginia.

The C&O Canal is a whopping 184 miles long, leading all the way to Cumberland, MD. You may have to dodge joggers on the towpath for the first few miles, but once you get some distance from Georgetown, you’ll have the trail to yourself! The ride might not be as scenic as it once was (they’re still draining and renovating the water in the canal), but you’ll certainly still get the exercise! Fitt Tip: go around the rocks and roots, not over them.

Hains Point is a popular place for getting in speedwork, as there are almost no cars and plenty of road space. You can take the roughly three-mile loop around East Potomac Park, with gorgeous views of the river and bridges (to distract you from your burning quads). Soak up the peaceful quiet as you loop around as many times as you want!

The Metropolitan Branch Trail is a great (and probably faster) alternative to the metro. There are plenty of neighborhoods to explore from the trail as you ride from Silver Springs, MD, all the way to Union Station. The best part? You won’t have to wait for broken-down Red Line trains!

This lovely trail will take you through cool wooden glades, over little brooks, and under gorgeous, arching bridges as you wind your way up to Rock Creek Park from the Kennedy Center. But it’s not all smooth sailing and beautiful scenery, as there are quite a few hills to challenge you! The only downside is that you’ll have to dodge lots of runners on the weekend.

The Capital Crescent Trail is an excellent way to explore the beautiful Northwest parts of DC and into Maryland. The paved path runs from Georgetown all the way to Bethesda before turning to gravel in Silver Springs, MD. Enjoy the sprawling mansions of the Northwest before hitting the energetic Bethesda.

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail (also known as the W&OD) is popular for commuters coming from Virginia. The trail passes through Virginian towns such as Falls Church and Reston, making it a convenient ride into the city. It’s doesn’t have to be all work though! On weekends, it’s popular for cyclists out on a joy ride escaping DC hubbub!

The Custis Trail is a very handy connection from the W&OD Trail to the Mt. Vernon Trail, and will take you across the bridge to downtown DC. The path is short, useful, and challenging! But we’ll warn you: get ready for some short steep climbs!

For cyclists looking for a great “after-work route,” be sure to check out the Arlington Triangle Trail. This path is comprised of portions of the W&OD and the Mt. Vernon Trail, is completely paved, and has scenic routes of the monuments from across the Potomac River. Potential starting points include picnic areas in Ballston, Shillington, and at Gravelly Point near the airport, making for easy trail access from all over the District!

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