As one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States, Washington, D.C. offers a whole host of bike paths that weave through the city's scenic landscapes and historic landmarks. Whether you're an avid cyclist looking for a challenging ride or a casual biker seeking a leisurely cruise, D.C.'s diverse bike trails have something for everyone.
Capital Crescent Trail
The Capital Crescent Trail is one of the most popular trails in D.C. Starting in Georgetown, this 11-mile paved path follows the Potomac River to Silver Spring, Maryland, offering serene river views along the way. The trail winds through wooded areas, parks, and waterfronts, making it perfect for a peaceful ride.
Mount Vernon Trail
The 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail offers an exceptionally scenic and historic ride. Beginning at Theodore Roosevelt Island, it stretches all the way to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Along the route, you'll encounter landmarks such as Arlington National Cemetery, Old Town Alexandria, and Reagan National Airport. It's a well-maintained path with plenty of rest spots and picnic areas.
Metropolitan Branch Trail
For a more urban experience, consider the Metropolitan Branch Trail. This 8-mile trail runs from Union Station in D.C. to Silver Spring in Maryland. Along the way, you'll pass murals and artworks that add a splash of color to the cityscape. It's also a great trail for commuting, as it links several neighborhoods and transit stations.
Rock Creek Park Trails
A green oasis in the heart of the city, Rock Creek Park boasts over 20 miles of biking trails. These paths wind through lush woods, historic sites, and wildlife areas. The main trail, the Rock Creek Park Multi-use Trail, is a 5.3-mile paved path ideal for casual rides. However, off-road bikers can explore the Western Ridge and Valley Trails for a more challenging ride.
Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is a 20-mile trail system that traverses the banks of the Anacostia River. It offers spectacular views of the water, city skylines, and numerous parks. Notably, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are a highlight, especially when the water lilies and lotuses are in bloom.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath
The C&O Canal Towpath stretches a whopping 184.5 miles, from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland. But you don't have to tackle it all at once. Consider a ride from Georgetown to the Great Falls, a stunning section of the Potomac River – it's a 14-mile route rich in beauty and history.
The 14th Street Bridge Path
Connecting D.C. with Virginia, the 14th Street Bridge Path offers a safe route for bikers, separate from motor traffic. It provides spectacular views of the D.C. skyline, the Potomac River, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
The National Mall Paths
For a bike ride steeped in history and iconic views, biking around the National Mall is an absolute must. These wide paths are suitable for cyclists of all skill levels, and the route includes many of the nation's most famous monuments and memorials.
Washington, D.C.'s extensive network of bike paths is a testament to the city's commitment to green transportation and active lifestyles. Whether you're cycling for commuting, exercise, or pleasure, these paths offer a unique perspective of the nation's capital. So grab your helmet, hop on your bike, and start exploring the stunning landscapes and intriguing history of Washington, D.C.