Looking for some great places to ride in DC? We've put together 10 areas and paths worth exploring in and around the District. There are plenty of hidden gems throughout the city; however, we felt these are 10 areas every cyclist should explore at least once.
1. Great Falls / Potomac - Home to the 7am, 10am and assortment of other rides... The potomac region of Maryland hosts some of the most beautiful sights in and around Washington, DC. Most riders proceed out MacArthuer Blvd and head northwest until hitting the great falls park. From there, riders can proceed any number of directions over back country roads with nice rolling hills. You might even find a hill a DC resident would call a mountain (might be stretching it a bit here.
2. Hains Point - Home of the 3 mile loop and sprint rides everywhere. By far the most consistent place to find riders in the District. Riders progress along a one-way road except for the so no need to worry about on-coming traffic. If you're looking for casual and safe riding, or a fist clenching and leg burning workout, both can be found at Hains.
3. Arlington - If you are familiar with the terrain and have attended the freshbikes, revolution cycles, or any ride which hits the hills in Arlington, you know this is one of the hidden gems within reach of the city. Finding the right route can be tricky, but if you know where to turn you will find yourself with some beautiful routes tucked away in neighborhoods. Best advice is to pick up one of the group rides through the area to learn the terrain.
4. Rock Creek Park - From 7am to 7pm every weekend the roads are blocked off to all cars. That's right, cyclists are the only means of transportation which can proceed up and down the entire park via Beach Drive. If you're looking for some of the safest and most scenic routes in DC, this path is for you. Approximately 10-15 miles with multiple entry and exit points along the way.
5. Arboretum - The arboretum is only open from 8am to 5pm, but if you're looking for a 3-mile stretch with some very punchy hills this makes for great training. Not to mention... it's the arboretum maintained by the park services. Therefore, you can expect some amazing views, beautiful plants and flowers, as well as some items you would never expect ... like these pillars from the original capitol building.
6. Mt. Vernon Trail - Bike path, well paved, along the Potomac, airplanes overhead, monuments in plain sight across the river. Need I say more?
7. C&O Canal Tow Path - The C&O canal is one of the longest bike trails in the country and stretches all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most riders exit the path in Great Falls and finish their ride in the Potomac region. This is one of my personal favorites; however, I would recommend riding tubeless tires, or using your cross / mtn bike as you might be more comfortable. If you only have a road bike, try something new and go exploring. You will not be disappointed.
8. Capitol Crescent Trail - Approximately an 8 mile path taking you directly from Georgetown to Bethesda, MD. Slightly uphill the entire way (~ 1-2% gradient) but the views and path make the ride well worth it. Once you reach Bethesda you can hop on a small dirt trail which will bring you right back into DC via Rock Creek State Park.
9. Anacostia River Trail - Some people say "don't cross the river." I say, it has some of the best riding in DC. The river trail is a short 3-4 mile path which takes you along the Anacosita River and gives you an incredible view of the Nats Stadium and old Battleship. You can exit for the Nats Stadium at the 11th st. bridge; or, if you take Southern Ave SE all the way to National Harbor you will find some incredible sights. You can hop on the Woodrow Wilson bridge and swing back into Old Town Alexandria via South Royal/South Union streets. Take the Mt. Vernon trail all the way home.
10. WOD Trail - No list would be complete without listing the most well-known bike paths in the DC/NOVA region. The WOD trail is a 40 mile paved bike path from Arlington to Purcellville, VA. The views in the country are well worth the 80-90 mile ride. I personally recommend planning a ride during the fall time as it is simply breath-taking once the leaves begin changing color (see picture).
The Paceline is our blog which is updated periodically with different news about races, events and anything else interesting and involves a bike.