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A person rides a bicycle in the foreground. In the background is a large mural.
The Metropolitan Branch Trail
The Washington Post/Getty Images

The D.C. area’s best bike trails, mapped

From East Potomac Park to the Capital Crescent Trail

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The Metropolitan Branch Trail
| Photo by The Washington Post/Getty Images

Cyclists know that joy can be found outside. In the D.C. area, there are a wide variety of bike trails that offer outdoor adventures—ranging from paved and easy to rocky and strenuous—for both serious and amateur cyclists.

Below, we’ve mapped the best bike trails in and around D.C. From the Mount Vernon Trail to the Capital Crescent Trail, see what’s in store on two wheels.

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1. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

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(301) 739-4200
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Spanning approximately 184 miles, this historic park follows the Potomac River, providing views of Harpers Ferry and Great Falls. Because the route is unpaved, thin road tires are not recommended. Roughly every five miles after mile 26, visitors can find overnight camping areas and water pumps, according to TripSavvy. You can access the trail in Georgetown.

A path along a canal with a stone wall on one side and a red brick building on the other side. Shutterstock

2. Sugarloaf Mountain

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Sugarloaf Mountain
Urbana, MD 20842
(301) 874-4851
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Expect a great workout when it comes to this scenic mountain in Frederick County, Maryland. The area has two mountain-bike trails and three hiker-only trails. Be advised that there are around four or five hills trail users have to tackle. You can check out a helpful trail map here.

Trees are in the foreground. In the distance is a countryside. Shutterstock

3. Sligo Creek Trail

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Sligo Creek Trail
Silver Spring, MD
(301) 650-2600
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Spanning about 10 miles, this well-paved trail in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is great for families who want to stay active. It’s one of the most scenic trails in the D.C. area, with its name coming from nearby Sligo Creek. During rush hour, try to avoid the parts of the trail that cross major roads.

In the foreground is a creek. There are trees and a yellow school bus in the distance. The Washington Post/Getty Images

4. MacArthur Boulevard Bike Path

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MacArthur Blvd NW
Washington, DC

This roughly eight-mile trail extends from Old Angler's Inn in Potomac, Maryland, to MacArthur Boulevard NW and Norton Street NW in D.C. The winding path is described by TrailLink as “a glorified shoulder at times,” but it’s still praised for having connections to the C&O Canal and the Capital Crescent Trail.

5. Capital Crescent Trail

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Capital Crescent Trail
Washington, DC

This approximately 11-mile trail offers both paved and crushed-stone surfaces in D.C. and Maryland, respectively. Expect lots of shade as well as commuters on weekdays. Going south, the ride is mostly downhill. The trail is built on the abandoned rail-bed of the Georgetown Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, according to TripSavvy.

A group of people ride bicycles along a train under trees. The Washington Post/Getty Images

6. Metropolitan Branch Trail

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Metropolitan Branch Trail
Washington, DC

The Metropolitan Branch Trail, or MBT, is a popular ride for commuters, especially because it extends through many of D.C.’s residential neighborhoods, such as Brookland, Brightwood, and Takoma. There are also plenty of murals along the roughly eight-mile trail worth checking out. It runs between Silver Spring, Maryland, and Union Station.

People riding bicycles along a bike path in Washington D.C. The Washington Post/Getty Images

7. Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail

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Washington and Old Dominion Trail
Arlington, VA 22205
(703) 352-5900
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Built on the former road-bed of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, this trail runs approximately 45 miles, starting in Shirlington, Virginia, and ending in Purcellville, Virginia. It is completely paved and 100 feet wide, allowing room for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.

A bike path surrounded by trees and grass.

8. Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

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Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
Washington, DC

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail offers one of the most family-friendly bike rides in the D.C. area. The trail is approximately 20 miles long, following the Anacostia River and providing scenic views of the city. It is about 10 to 12 feet wide.

People ride bicycles down a bike path. In the foreground is a green sign with the words: Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Washington Post/Getty Images

9. East Potomac Park

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Ohio Dr SW
Washington, DC 20024

This roughly four-mile loop is paved and mostly flat. It also offers plenty of room for joggers and cyclists to share the trail. During cherry blossom season, it’s lined with different species of cherry trees in bloom. At Hains Point, visitors can watch planes take off and land at Reagan National Airport across the water.

A bike path with trees that have pink blossoms. Shutterstock

10. Fairfax County Parkway Trail

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Fairfax County Pkwy Trail
Fairfax, VA

This trail spans 28 miles, cutting through Fairfax County from north to south. According to the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, there are some rough patches in the trail.

11. Holmes Run Trail

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Holmes Run Trail
Alexandria, VA

In Virginia, this partially paved trail travels roughly five miles between Alexandria and Fairfax County. It’s made of asphalt, concrete, and crushed-stone surfaces and follows a scenic route through residential areas.

A row of small stumps in a creek surrounded by trees and grass. Shutterstock

12. Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail

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Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge
Fort Washington, MD 20744

For a trail with plenty of access points for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail is a great choice. It has multiple benches and sightseeing telescopes along approximately one mile.

A person rides a bicycle down a bike path on Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. The Washington Post/Getty Images

13. Mount Vernon Trail

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Mt Vernon Trail
Alexandria, VA
(703) 289-2500
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Starting from Roosevelt Island on the Potomac River and passing through Old Town Alexandria, this paved, 18-mile ride offers great views of the monuments. The trail is relatively flat, although there’s a hill before getting to George Washington’s former home.

In the foreground is a body of water. In the distance is a park. Shutterstock

1. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, United States
A path along a canal with a stone wall on one side and a red brick building on the other side. Shutterstock

Spanning approximately 184 miles, this historic park follows the Potomac River, providing views of Harpers Ferry and Great Falls. Because the route is unpaved, thin road tires are not recommended. Roughly every five miles after mile 26, visitors can find overnight camping areas and water pumps, according to TripSavvy. You can access the trail in Georgetown.

2. Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain, Urbana, MD 20842
Trees are in the foreground. In the distance is a countryside. Shutterstock

Expect a great workout when it comes to this scenic mountain in Frederick County, Maryland. The area has two mountain-bike trails and three hiker-only trails. Be advised that there are around four or five hills trail users have to tackle. You can check out a helpful trail map here.

Sugarloaf Mountain
Urbana, MD 20842

3. Sligo Creek Trail

Sligo Creek Trail, Silver Spring, MD
In the foreground is a creek. There are trees and a yellow school bus in the distance. The Washington Post/Getty Images

Spanning about 10 miles, this well-paved trail in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is great for families who want to stay active. It’s one of the most scenic trails in the D.C. area, with its name coming from nearby Sligo Creek. During rush hour, try to avoid the parts of the trail that cross major roads.

Sligo Creek Trail
Silver Spring, MD

4. MacArthur Boulevard Bike Path

MacArthur Blvd NW, Washington, DC

This roughly eight-mile trail extends from Old Angler's Inn in Potomac, Maryland, to MacArthur Boulevard NW and Norton Street NW in D.C. The winding path is described by TrailLink as “a glorified shoulder at times,” but it’s still praised for having connections to the C&O Canal and the Capital Crescent Trail.

MacArthur Blvd NW
Washington, DC

5. Capital Crescent Trail

Capital Crescent Trail, Washington, DC
A group of people ride bicycles along a train under trees. The Washington Post/Getty Images

This approximately 11-mile trail offers both paved and crushed-stone surfaces in D.C. and Maryland, respectively. Expect lots of shade as well as commuters on weekdays. Going south, the ride is mostly downhill. The trail is built on the abandoned rail-bed of the Georgetown Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, according to TripSavvy.

Capital Crescent Trail
Washington, DC

6. Metropolitan Branch Trail

Metropolitan Branch Trail, Washington, DC
People riding bicycles along a bike path in Washington D.C. The Washington Post/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Branch Trail, or MBT, is a popular ride for commuters, especially because it extends through many of D.C.’s residential neighborhoods, such as Brookland, Brightwood, and Takoma. There are also plenty of murals along the roughly eight-mile trail worth checking out. It runs between Silver Spring, Maryland, and Union Station.

Metropolitan Branch Trail
Washington, DC

7. Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail

Washington and Old Dominion Trail, Arlington, VA 22205
A bike path surrounded by trees and grass.

Built on the former road-bed of the Washington and Old Dominion Railroad, this trail runs approximately 45 miles, starting in Shirlington, Virginia, and ending in Purcellville, Virginia. It is completely paved and 100 feet wide, allowing room for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians.

Washington and Old Dominion Trail
Arlington, VA 22205

8. Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, Washington, DC
People ride bicycles down a bike path. In the foreground is a green sign with the words: Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Washington Post/Getty Images

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail offers one of the most family-friendly bike rides in the D.C. area. The trail is approximately 20 miles long, following the Anacostia River and providing scenic views of the city. It is about 10 to 12 feet wide.

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
Washington, DC

9. East Potomac Park

Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024
A bike path with trees that have pink blossoms. Shutterstock

This roughly four-mile loop is paved and mostly flat. It also offers plenty of room for joggers and cyclists to share the trail. During cherry blossom season, it’s lined with different species of cherry trees in bloom. At Hains Point, visitors can watch planes take off and land at Reagan National Airport across the water.

Ohio Dr SW
Washington, DC 20024

10. Fairfax County Parkway Trail

Fairfax County Pkwy Trail, Fairfax, VA

This trail spans 28 miles, cutting through Fairfax County from north to south. According to the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, there are some rough patches in the trail.

Fairfax County Pkwy Trail
Fairfax, VA

11. Holmes Run Trail

Holmes Run Trail, Alexandria, VA
A row of small stumps in a creek surrounded by trees and grass. Shutterstock

In Virginia, this partially paved trail travels roughly five miles between Alexandria and Fairfax County. It’s made of asphalt, concrete, and crushed-stone surfaces and follows a scenic route through residential areas.

Holmes Run Trail
Alexandria, VA

12. Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, Fort Washington, MD 20744
A person rides a bicycle down a bike path on Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. The Washington Post/Getty Images

For a trail with plenty of access points for cyclists, joggers, and pedestrians, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail is a great choice. It has multiple benches and sightseeing telescopes along approximately one mile.

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge
Fort Washington, MD 20744

13. Mount Vernon Trail

Mt Vernon Trail, Alexandria, VA
In the foreground is a body of water. In the distance is a park. Shutterstock

Starting from Roosevelt Island on the Potomac River and passing through Old Town Alexandria, this paved, 18-mile ride offers great views of the monuments. The trail is relatively flat, although there’s a hill before getting to George Washington’s former home.

Mt Vernon Trail
Alexandria, VA

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