With D.C. being one of the most bike-friendly cities in America, there are many trails to turn to in and around the area, complete with acres of land in Maryland and Virginia just waiting to be explored via two wheels. When it comes to the DMV area, there’s an abundance of opportunities and options for cyclists to get the very best out of their eco-friendly mode of transportation.
Capital Crescent Trail
If you feel like riding down smooth, trustworthy bike lanes (although watch out for the ever-looming car door opening) instead of little dirt trails with potential naturistic obstacles, then the Capital Crescent Trail is for you. Its 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) cover parks and the Potomac, from Georgetown to Silver Spring.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath
The historic C & O Canal used to be a passageway for various sellable goods that were headed to the city. Today, it’s merely a charming waterway with a towpath stretching 185 miles (297.7 km) alongside it. Washingtonians have taken advantage of this scenic path too, making it into a recreational passage. If you want to skip the sometimes congested main route, there are plenty of other marked trails that head into spots known for local wildlife, historic sites, and campsites.
Washington and Old Dominion Trail
Don’t let its old pre-Civil War railway nickname, the Virginia Creeper, scare you away. This destination boasts one of the most unique parks in the area, with a 45-mile (72.4-km) trail into Northern Virginia wine country, from Shirlington to Purcellville. There isn’t just wine though. Breweries and bakeries are also common sights in the small towns.
This road is the Shenandoah National Park’s main passageway, which is lovely in a car but fabulous via bike. The park itself is 200,000 acres, in case you were thinking about going off the 105-mile (169-km) trail. There are many picturesque vistas, and if you like the park so much that the one-day trail ride won’t do it, camping is available.
Anacostia Tributary Trail System
This trail system is made up of miles and miles of paths throughout suburban Maryland and parts of D.C. You can take your pick of the many trails that run along the Anacostia River, including Anacostia River Trail, Sligo Creek Trail, and Indian Creek Trail, to name only a few.
Indian Head Rail Trail
Although this trail is removed from the chaotic pace of the city, and all of the natural outdoor scenery will make you think you are in the middle of nowhere, it sure won’t feel like it. It was generously made into a smooth asphalt trail where an abandoned railroad corridor once stood. This path will allow you to get all the beauty of nature without feeling it in the buttocks the next day.
Mount Vernon Trail
If you are a history buff, a George Washington admirer, or want a path that contains unexpected recreational activities, then this is the trail you must travel. It stretches from George Washington’s estate, which is worth seeing, to Theodore Roosevelt Island. It’s right along the river and has lovely pit stops, one of which is the Washington Sailing Marina. They rent sailboats as well as bicycles, in case you didn’t want to tote yours.
Great Allegheny Passage Trail
This massive path carries itself 150 miles (241.4 km) from Cumberland, Maryland, to Pittsburgh. But wait, there’s a lot more for those who are serious about their cycling. Remember the C & O Canal’s towpath? It connects to this passage trail in Cumberland. In case you were practicing for a triathlon and 150 miles (241.4 km) wasn’t enough for you, make it a 335-mile (539-km) bike ride. You’ll be sure to see what the quaint small towns and forests have to offer, and if you overestimated your pedaling abilities, there are bed and breakfasts and campsites along the way.
The Washington, Baltimore & Annapolis Trail
If you wanted to check out the three cities listed (from a distance) in less than an hour’s time, follow this trail which leads you into two tunnel crossings and along the Patuxent River for a total of 5.6 miles (nine km). It’s the latest addition to the Rail-to-Trail project, the country’s longest biking/walking route. So far it connects 15 states through 450 cities and towns, along 3,000 miles (4,828 km) of trails. So if this newest addition is too light for you, you could always start at point A in Maine and end up in Florida.
Farmland and Suburban Ride
This scenic bike ride doesn’t really have a name, just easy directions to follow the remote pathways in Montgomery County. It is a well-kept secret among the bike community. You can start in Poolesville, ride to Sugarloaf Mountain, and then head to White’s Ferry. Jump on the ferry (it’s the only one that still crosses the Potomac, and yes, bikes are allowed) and go to Leesburg. You can also pass on the ferry and follow the country roads that wind through the countryside.
Rock Creek Stream Valley Park
There are several trails to choose from in the park, such as the Rock Creek Trail, Lake Needwood Trails, and Lake Frank & Meadowside Trail. It’s recommended to take the ones that go through some of the historic sites, including the mill ruins, raptor aviary, the hidden bridge, and pioneer homestead.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.