Biking in Washington D.C.
April 11, 2017
Celebrate the arrival of spring by taking in the sights of our nation’s capital from a unique perspective. The weather’s great, the paths are a-plenty, so BYOB (bring your own bicycle), or rent one in town, and get riding! None of the paths mentioned here are extraordinarily challenging from a technical perspective, but some can be made more vigorous simply by extending their duration. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a workout, or a leisurely ride, DC’s got you covered.
The most obvious destination to whiz around atop your two-wheeled steed, would be the National Mall and adjacent monuments, all of which provide bike parking and well-maintained paths for cyclists. Just be respectful as you enjoy some of the county’s most exquisite public space. Per the NPS website: Please remember that riding your bicycle is not permitted within the memorials themselves. Please walk your bicycle through the World War II and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorials or lock it up before entering any of the other memorials.
But there’s way more to biking Washington DC than the conventionally thought of spots. Within the District’s boundaries lies a far more pastoral option, the beautiful Rock Creek Park, which runs right through the Northwest quadrant. Miles of multi-use paths wind through this wooded landscape, a ride through which will surely make you forget you’re in a dense urban area. The single track trails aren’t open to mountain bikers, but if you’d like to go for a short hike following your ride, they’re worth a visit!
For another different take on the the DC cycling experience, head on out to the Georgetown neighborhood (the eponymous place where the famed university sits), where you’ll find the beginnings of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal trail, conventionally abbreviated to the C&O. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, the dirt towpath runs parallel to the site of the now largely defunct canal for 184.5 miles, all the way to Cumberland, Maryland. We can’t say we recommend the 369 mile round trip, out-and-back ride unless you’re an accomplished endurance athlete, but any shorter iteration is sure to be enjoyable, especially when capped off with a stop at locally revered Georgetown Cupcake for a treat.
And for a truly historic route, ride across the Potomac into Alexandria, Virginia. Once there, pick up the Mount Vernon Trail, which winds its way along the Potomac waterfront, offering a different view of the monuments, and eventually leads into Arlington near the National Cemetery, and of course, Mount Vernon, too. This path is paved, striped, busy, but well worth the trip!
No matter what your biking preferences are, Washington DC’s sure to provide for them. Come experience one of the nation’s most underrated biking cities!
Now if you'd rather experience Washington DC on your bike but with your own private guide, check out our Monuments Bike Tour.