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Metropolitan Branch Trail.
Photo via Geoff Alexander

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

From Hains Point Loop to the Capital Crescent Trail

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Metropolitan Branch Trail.
| Photo by Photo via Geoff Alexander

Euphoria can often be found outside. For cyclists, they know this is true. In the D.C. area, there are a wide variety of options for bicycle trails worth venturing to, ranging from the paved and easy to the rocky and strenuous.

Below, Curbed DC has mapped the best bike trails with essential information included as well as a map linked to for each so that riders can do some further research for their trip.

From Mount Vernon Trail to the Capital Crescent Trail, see what the area has in store for those who like to explore in the great outdoors.

Note: The mapped points have been listed geographically, from the most north to the most south.

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1. Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath

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205 W Potomac St
Williamsport, MD 21795

Spanning approximately 184 miles, this historic park follows the Potomac River with views of Harpers Ferry and Great Falls. Because the route is unpaved, it’s recommended to not use thin road tires. TripSavvy also notes that about every five miles visitors will be able to find overnight camping areas and water pumps, starting at mile 26.

For more recreation options along the trail, canoes can be rented at Fletchers Cove, and interpretive exhibits on the history of the area can be found in the 1913-built Western Maryland Railway Station, located at Room 100 in 13 Canal Street in Cumberland, Maryland.

If interested in keeping track of where you are on the trail and what sites are nearby, there is an iPhone app available.

Be sure to check out this PDF for a full map of the trail with labels on where each of the lockhouses, visitor centers, and picnic sites are.

The C&O Canal.
Photo via Aaron Garza

2. Sugarloaf Mountain

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Sugarloaf Mountain
Urbana, MD 20842

Expect a great workout when it comes to this scenic Maryland mountain, which offers two mountain bike trails and three hiker-only trails. This route is not 100 percent easy-peasy for first-time mountain bikers as there are around four or five hills passersby have to tackle.

As a recreation area, Sugarloaf Mountain offers a space for picnicking and horseback riding. Dogs are also allowed on the trail, but must be kept on a leash. The mountain closes at sunset.

According to MTBR, no mountain biking is allowed on the weekends between October 31 through May 1.

Stronghold, Inc., the owner of the mountain, created this PDF, which features a map of where parking, bathrooms, and nearby trails are.

3. Sligo Creek Trail

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Sligo Creek Trail
Silver Spring, MD

Spanning approximately 10 miles, this well-paved trail in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is perfect for families looking to stay active. This is one of the most scenic trails in the D.C. area with the name coming from the nearby Sligo Creek.

During rush hour, try to avoid the parts of this trail that cross major roads, unless you’re cool with dealing with the sounds of seemingly endless traffic.

Montgomery County created this helpful map of the trail with detailed labels that indicate where to find parking, benches, and neighborhood access points.

Photo via neilfein

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 Washington, 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 National Historic Park and the Capital Crescent Trail.

TrailLink has a great map of the trail, but it’s unfortunately only available to those who register on the site.

Photo via Shutterstock/Poprotskiy Alexey

5. Capital Crescent Trail

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Capital Crescent Trail
Washington, DC

This approximately 11-mile trail offers both paved and crush stone surfaces. The latter surface will be found between Bethesda, Maryland, and Rosemary Hills in Silver Spring, Maryland, while the paved surfaces can be enjoyed from D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood to Bethesda, Maryland.

Expect tons of shade as well as commuters on weekday mornings and evenings. Going south, the ride is mostly downhill.

According to TripSavvy, the trail is built on the abandoned railbed of the Georgetown Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad.

To learn about where to find trail access points, head to this Google map.

Photo via Daniel Lobo

6. Metropolitan Branch Trail

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Metropolitan Branch Trail
Washington, DC

With both paved off-road trails and on-road lanes, the Metropolitan Branch Trail is a popular ride for commuters, especially because it extends through many of D.C.’s residential neighborhoods, including Brookland, Brightwood, and Takoma Park. There are also plenty of murals along the way worth checking out.

The approximately eight-mile trail runs between Silver Spring, Maryland, and Union Station in Washington, D.C. If heading south, the route mostly goes downhill. The Washington Post reports that those who bike on this trail should expect to share the road with both fellow cyclists and sometimes even cars.

Here is a handy Google map for those who want to see just how far the Metropolitan Branch Trail extends in the D.C. area.

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

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Washington and Old Dominion Trail
Arlington, VA 22205

Built on the former road bed of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, this trail runs approximately 45 miles, starting in Shirlington, Virginia, to Purcellville, Virginia. Riders are sure to be pleased to know that this trail is totally paved and 100 feet wide, allowing room for visitors of all types: cyclists, joggers, and more.

The Culture Trip deems the trail good for those who don’t want too big of a challenge. If there’s one complaint, it’s the fact that it’s just so popular and can be crowded on some days.

For more information, the Friends of the W&OD Trail organization has this map on their website.

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8. Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

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Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
Washington, DC

Not to be confused with Maryland’s Anacostia River Trail, WTOP deemed the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail one of the top five family-friendly bike rides in the D.C. area. The trail is approximately 20 miles long, circling around the Anacostia River and offering scenic views of the city and the nearby fauna. The trail is 10 to 12 feet wide.

For a map of nearby fun venues worth checking out, go to this Curbed DC map. For a map of the trail, itself, go to the District Department of Transportation website here.

Photo via Joe Flood

9. Hains Point

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Hains Point
Washington, DC 20242

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, be sure to give this trail some consideration as it is supposed to offer plenty of different species of cherry trees.

The trail is nearby memorials like the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and George Mason Memorial. We Love DC notes that the trail has other benefits, which include that it is largely separated from traffic.

The National Park Service created this map for those interested in visiting the Haines Point Loop.

Photo via Joe Flood

10. Fairfax County Parkway Trail

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Fairfax County Pkwy Trail
Fairfax, VA

From start to finish, this trail spans 28 miles, cutting through Fairfax County from north to south. This high-speed trail does not have any bike parking, but does have an abundance of parking spaces for cars. According to the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, there are some rough patches in the trail.

The Fairfax County Bicycle Program created this interactive map for cyclists to see how far the trail extends, which routes are the easiest, and where nearby bicycle shops and Capital Bikeshare stations are.

Photo via Shutterstock/Ruslan Ivantsov

11. Holmes Run Trail

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Holmes Run Trail
Alexandria, VA

From Alexandria, Virginia, to Fairfax County, Virginia, this partially paved trail travels approximately five miles with asphalt, concrete, and crushed stone trail surfaces. The trail follows a scenic route through residential areas and is located near Ben Brenman Park, which features a playground, picnic spots, and restrooms.

This map, created by the City of Alexandria, is perfect for learning about where Holmes Run is located and where other nearby trails are located too.

Photo via jantos

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 for a bike ride. It comes with a myriad of areas with benches and sightseeing telescopes. CBS also recommends the roughly one-mile, multi-use trail for its access to the National Harbor, which is perfect for shopping and finding great food.

The Washington Post has a handy map of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail, which can be found here. It also indicates nearby places for parking.

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13. Mount Vernon Trail

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Mt Vernon Trail
Alexandria, VA

Starting from Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C., and passing through Old Town Alexandria, this paved, 18-mile ride is mostly car-free and offers great views of the monuments and occasional access to nearby public restrooms. The trail is perfect for people who require or prefer flat trails, though, there is a hill before getting to George Washington’s former home.

According to Trip Savvy, the section of the trail that passes through Old Town Alexandria may not be suitable for young children due to the high amounts of traffic nearby.

For a detailed map of what to expect on the trail, the National Park Service provides this free PDF online.

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1. Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath

205 W Potomac St, Williamsport, MD 21795
The C&O Canal.
Photo via Aaron Garza

Spanning approximately 184 miles, this historic park follows the Potomac River with views of Harpers Ferry and Great Falls. Because the route is unpaved, it’s recommended to not use thin road tires. TripSavvy also notes that about every five miles visitors will be able to find overnight camping areas and water pumps, starting at mile 26.

For more recreation options along the trail, canoes can be rented at Fletchers Cove, and interpretive exhibits on the history of the area can be found in the 1913-built Western Maryland Railway Station, located at Room 100 in 13 Canal Street in Cumberland, Maryland.

If interested in keeping track of where you are on the trail and what sites are nearby, there is an iPhone app available.

Be sure to check out this PDF for a full map of the trail with labels on where each of the lockhouses, visitor centers, and picnic sites are.

205 W Potomac St
Williamsport, MD 21795

2. Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain, Urbana, MD 20842

Expect a great workout when it comes to this scenic Maryland mountain, which offers two mountain bike trails and three hiker-only trails. This route is not 100 percent easy-peasy for first-time mountain bikers as there are around four or five hills passersby have to tackle.

As a recreation area, Sugarloaf Mountain offers a space for picnicking and horseback riding. Dogs are also allowed on the trail, but must be kept on a leash. The mountain closes at sunset.

According to MTBR, no mountain biking is allowed on the weekends between October 31 through May 1.

Stronghold, Inc., the owner of the mountain, created this PDF, which features a map of where parking, bathrooms, and nearby trails are.

Sugarloaf Mountain
Urbana, MD 20842

3. Sligo Creek Trail

Sligo Creek Trail, Silver Spring, MD
Photo via neilfein

Spanning approximately 10 miles, this well-paved trail in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is perfect for families looking to stay active. This is one of the most scenic trails in the D.C. area with the name coming from the nearby Sligo Creek.

During rush hour, try to avoid the parts of this trail that cross major roads, unless you’re cool with dealing with the sounds of seemingly endless traffic.

Montgomery County created this helpful map of the trail with detailed labels that indicate where to find parking, benches, and neighborhood access points.

Sligo Creek Trail
Silver Spring, MD

4. MacArthur Boulevard Bike Path

MacArthur Blvd NW, Washington, DC
Photo via Shutterstock/Poprotskiy Alexey

This roughly eight-mile trail extends from Old Angler's Inn in Potomac, Maryland, to MacArthur Boulevard NW and Norton Street NW in Washington, 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 National Historic Park and the Capital Crescent Trail.

TrailLink has a great map of the trail, but it’s unfortunately only available to those who register on the site.

MacArthur Blvd NW
Washington, DC

5. Capital Crescent Trail

Capital Crescent Trail, Washington, DC
Photo via Daniel Lobo

This approximately 11-mile trail offers both paved and crush stone surfaces. The latter surface will be found between Bethesda, Maryland, and Rosemary Hills in Silver Spring, Maryland, while the paved surfaces can be enjoyed from D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood to Bethesda, Maryland.

Expect tons of shade as well as commuters on weekday mornings and evenings. Going south, the ride is mostly downhill.

According to TripSavvy, the trail is built on the abandoned railbed of the Georgetown Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad.

To learn about where to find trail access points, head to this Google map.

Capital Crescent Trail
Washington, DC

6. Metropolitan Branch Trail

Metropolitan Branch Trail, Washington, DC

With both paved off-road trails and on-road lanes, the Metropolitan Branch Trail is a popular ride for commuters, especially because it extends through many of D.C.’s residential neighborhoods, including Brookland, Brightwood, and Takoma Park. There are also plenty of murals along the way worth checking out.

The approximately eight-mile trail runs between Silver Spring, Maryland, and Union Station in Washington, D.C. If heading south, the route mostly goes downhill. The Washington Post reports that those who bike on this trail should expect to share the road with both fellow cyclists and sometimes even cars.

Here is a handy Google map for those who want to see just how far the Metropolitan Branch Trail extends in the D.C. area.

Metropolitan Branch Trail
Washington, DC

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

Washington and Old Dominion Trail, Arlington, VA 22205

Built on the former road bed of the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, this trail runs approximately 45 miles, starting in Shirlington, Virginia, to Purcellville, Virginia. Riders are sure to be pleased to know that this trail is totally paved and 100 feet wide, allowing room for visitors of all types: cyclists, joggers, and more.

The Culture Trip deems the trail good for those who don’t want too big of a challenge. If there’s one complaint, it’s the fact that it’s just so popular and can be crowded on some days.

For more information, the Friends of the W&OD Trail organization has this map on their website.

Washington and Old Dominion Trail
Arlington, VA 22205

8. Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, Washington, DC
Photo via Joe Flood

Not to be confused with Maryland’s Anacostia River Trail, WTOP deemed the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail one of the top five family-friendly bike rides in the D.C. area. The trail is approximately 20 miles long, circling around the Anacostia River and offering scenic views of the city and the nearby fauna. The trail is 10 to 12 feet wide.

For a map of nearby fun venues worth checking out, go to this Curbed DC map. For a map of the trail, itself, go to the District Department of Transportation website here.

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail
Washington, DC

9. Hains Point

Hains Point, Washington, DC 20242
Photo via Joe Flood

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, be sure to give this trail some consideration as it is supposed to offer plenty of different species of cherry trees.

The trail is nearby memorials like the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and George Mason Memorial. We Love DC notes that the trail has other benefits, which include that it is largely separated from traffic.

The National Park Service created this map for those interested in visiting the Haines Point Loop.

Hains Point
Washington, DC 20242

10. Fairfax County Parkway Trail

Fairfax County Pkwy Trail, Fairfax, VA
Photo via Shutterstock/Ruslan Ivantsov

From start to finish, this trail spans 28 miles, cutting through Fairfax County from north to south. This high-speed trail does not have any bike parking, but does have an abundance of parking spaces for cars. According to the Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling, there are some rough patches in the trail.

The Fairfax County Bicycle Program created this interactive map for cyclists to see how far the trail extends, which routes are the easiest, and where nearby bicycle shops and Capital Bikeshare stations are.

Fairfax County Pkwy Trail
Fairfax, VA

11. Holmes Run Trail

Holmes Run Trail, Alexandria, VA
Photo via jantos

From Alexandria, Virginia, to Fairfax County, Virginia, this partially paved trail travels approximately five miles with asphalt, concrete, and crushed stone trail surfaces. The trail follows a scenic route through residential areas and is located near Ben Brenman Park, which features a playground, picnic spots, and restrooms.

This map, created by the City of Alexandria, is perfect for learning about where Holmes Run is located and where other nearby trails are located too.

Holmes Run Trail
Alexandria, VA

12. Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail

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 for a bike ride. It comes with a myriad of areas with benches and sightseeing telescopes. CBS also recommends the roughly one-mile, multi-use trail for its access to the National Harbor, which is perfect for shopping and finding great food.

The Washington Post has a handy map of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail, which can be found here. It also indicates nearby places for parking.

Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge
Fort Washington, MD 20744

13. Mount Vernon Trail

Mt Vernon Trail, Alexandria, VA

Starting from Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C., and passing through Old Town Alexandria, this paved, 18-mile ride is mostly car-free and offers great views of the monuments and occasional access to nearby public restrooms. The trail is perfect for people who require or prefer flat trails, though, there is a hill before getting to George Washington’s former home.

According to Trip Savvy, the section of the trail that passes through Old Town Alexandria may not be suitable for young children due to the high amounts of traffic nearby.

For a detailed map of what to expect on the trail, the National Park Service provides this free PDF online.

Mt Vernon Trail
Alexandria, VA

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