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Pedal to the Metal: Exploring the D.C. Area's Bike Trails

[Photo by Elvert Barnes]

D.C. is an increasingly bike-friendly place, despite some challenges to sharing the road. With miles of bike lanes and cycletrack, the city is firmly in the column of more bike-friendly than not. While it's getting easier to commute by bike, sometimes you just want to take in the scenery from two wheels. Here are some of our favorite paths and routes to get out and enjoy the area. If you can think of any others that we may have missed, tip us or put them in the comments.
Katherine Jessup

Looking for a protected ride through green space? Look no further than Beach Drive. It may be easy to take this for granted, but the weekend closures to car traffic turns a major commuting route through Northwest into a bikers paradise, which is pretty cool in our book. From Beach Drive you can drop in and cruise along the rest of Rock Creek, south to Foggy Bottom, the monuments and the mall, or you can head north, riding Rock Creek Trail into Montgomery County.

Starting in Georgetown, the ever-popular Capital Crescent Trail connects with Bethesda and Montgomery County without the uphill-climb of Wisconsin Avenue. This is a trail with a posted speed limit for good reason: the trail is used by a mix of riders, from families out for an amble to commuters to cycle warriors who are always riding a time trial. Bike mindfully.

If you're looking for a ride in the eastern part of the city, the Metropolitan Branch Trail will take you from Union Market/NoMa up to Takoma Park and Silver Spring. A little further south (around Fort Totten), you can switch to the Northwest Branch Trail, offering a tour of Prince George's County and connecting D.C. with University of Maryland.

If you're looking for a longer ride, almost all 18 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail offer scenic views. Ridden as an out and back course from almost anywhere in D.C. or Arlington, the ride quickly approaches the half century mark. From the Mount Vernon Trail, picking up Four Mile Run Trail and Custis Trail offers a nice Tour d'Arlington loop on almost entirely paved trails.

Lastly, if you're looking to ride a century or longer: Washington & Old Dominion Trail, which starts in Shirlington and is accessible from Four Mile Run trail, runs out to Leesburg along a converted old rail line. The longest continuous trail in the area, the C&O tow path starts in Georgetown and travels 184 miles out to Cumberland, MD.
· All Outdoors Week 2014 Coverage [CDC]

Rock Creek Park

Beach Drive NW, Washington, DC 20015 Visit Website