Weekend Wheeling in Washington, D.C.

In and around the Capital
By Jim Logan
  |  Gorp.com
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Throughout the Washington, D.C., urban area, which includes suburbs in Virginia and Maryland, you can ride your bicycle from your doorstep and soon be on a dedicated bike path or bike route. If this is your intention, you would do well to purchase a Washington, D.C., Regional Bike Map, available at bookstores and bike shops throughout the metropolitan area for approximately $10.

With or without this bike map, your riding destinations can be sorted by tire size. A skinny tire is suitable on bike trails such as the Mount Vernon Trail, which runs south about ten miles along the Virginia side of the Potomac River to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.

Another skinny tire route is the W&OD rail trail, which runs about 40 miles west from the Potomac River to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

With a slightly wider tire, you can investigate the C&O Canal, a dirt surface that follows the canal towpath from Georgetown in Washington over 180 miles to Cumberland, Maryland.

Finally, a challenging mountain bike experience is available in Fountainhead Park, which runs along Occoquan Reservoir in Virginia, about 20 miles southwest of Washington. To reach Fountainhead Park, go south on I-95 from Washington. Once south of the Beltway, exit at Lorton Road. Turn right onto Lorton Road, then turn right onto Furnace Road, and right again onto Ox Road (Route 123). Turn left onto Hampton Road and drive three miles to the park entrance on the left. Call (703) 250-2473 if there's been a recent rain, because the trail may be closed. The mountain-bike loop is five miles of gnarly single-track as good as any urban mountain bike experience you'll find.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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