Best Bike Trails In And Around DC


Seeking new and exciting ways to make the most of your summer in the DMV? Good news: The landscape of our city is brimming with outdoor diversions — from scenic parks to refreshing rooftops and beyond. Today, we’ll be exploring the best bike trails and paths in and around DC.

Whether you’re a cycling enthusiast or a relative newcomer to the biking scene, be sure to follow along — we’d never lead you off course!

#1 Metropolitan Branch Trail

Stretching for 8 miles between Washington, DC’s Union Station and Silver Spring, Maryland, the Metropolitan “Met” Branch Trail (MBT) has already become a central pathway for the capital, serving thousands of commuters and recreational trail users, and connecting some of the city’s most historic and burgeoning neighborhoods — including NoMa, Eckington, Edgewood, and Brookland.

Want to enjoy the sunlight without breaking a sweat? Check out this post on DC’s best public parks.

#2 Rock Creek Park

The oldest urban national park in America, Rock Creek Park offers more than 32 miles of hiking and bicycling trails weaving through 1,700+ acres of green space in northwest DC. Among the numerous trails is an 8.5-mile paved pathway that runs parallel to Beach Drive and Oregon Avenue — also loosely following Rock Creek — in two main segments between I-66 at Peters Point in D.C. and the Maryland border.

Picnicking, boating, horseback riding, tennis, golfing, historical exploration, and connecting to nature are just some of the activities offered in the park. Three visitor centers serve as anchors, including a Nature Center and Planetarium, a mill dating back to the 1700s and the Old Stone House in Georgetown, the oldest structure on its original foundation in the city.

#3 Anacostia River Trail

This ever-expanding trail, which currently spans about 12 miles on both sides of the Anacostia River, will ultimately connect 16 neighborhoods in the DC area. The paved trail transitions from riverside wooded natural areas to marshland, urban development, and into parkland. Along the Anacostia Riverfront, visitors will find a multitude of recreational assets, including community centers, playgrounds, a roller skating pavilion, and sports fields. The trail already boasts links to major destinations in the city such as Nationals Park, Diamond Teague Park, historic Navy Yard, and the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and will eventually connect you with the Tidal Basin and the National Mall.

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#4 Chesapeake Canal National Historic Park

With a history stretching back to George Washington, the 184.5-mile Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park (C&O Canal Towpath) — which begins near the National Mall and stretches to Cumberland, Maryland — was once an important commercial transportation corridor for the towns along its route. Today, it continues its legacy as an economically important landscape for active transportation, recreation, and outdoor tourism. Many original features remain from its days of the Canal Era, including locks, lock houses, aqueducts, and other relics. The canal also played an important role in the American Civil War, serving as a dividing line between the North and South.

#5 Capital Crescent Trail

Welcoming more than 1 million people per year, the Capital Crescent Trail is a premier DC recreation & commuting corridor between Silver Spring, Maryland, and historic Georgetown that travels a crescent-shaped route featuring waterside views, wildlife, parkland, and major cultural/historical sites. In Georgetown and in west Silver Spring, the trail connects to Rock Creek Park — as mentioned above is the largest urban national park in the country with dozens of additional miles of hiking and biking trails. In other parts of DC, the trail takes you past major attractions such as the National Zoo and the Kennedy Center (to name just a few).

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#6 Oxon Run Trail

Known for its convenience and scenery, the Oxon Run Trail offers a 3.4-mile jaunt along its namesake tributary (of the Potomac River) in Oxon Run National Parkway on two disconnected sections in southeast DC and in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The trail exists in an area served by few others, making it an important asset for outdoor physical activity and connecting to nature. Another highlight? It was recently rehabilitated with new asphalt on both sides of the tributary and upgraded with wider paths and better lighting.

#7 Mount Vernon Trail

Begin the 36-mile (58-km) Mount Vernon Trail at tranquil Theodore Roosevelt Island, where you’ll find swampy lowlands and dense woodlands  as you travel to Mount Vernon — the estate of America’s first president — in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. On the return journey, enjoy the seemingly never-ending views of Washington, DC’s iconic skyline as you pedal along the Potomac River. For a longer ride, connect with other regional routes, including the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, Four Mile Run Trail and Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail.

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