Despite its dense suburbs, northern Virginia is laced with hiking and biking trails.
Mount Vernon Trail
- Start Francis Scott Key Bridge
- End Mount Vernon
- Duration 90 minutes
- Distance 18 miles
- Difficulty Medium
The 18-mile paved multi-use Mount Vernon Trail stretches along the banks of the Potomac River from the Francis Scott Key Bridge near Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington's Mount Vernon estate. The trail connects with other regional routes including the Potomac Heritage, Custis, Rock Creek, Four Mile Run, and Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trails.
Walkers and runners use the trail, but it is most popular with cyclists, who appreciate its predominantly flat terrain and wonderful views of the Potomac and DC monuments. Cultural stops along the way include Mount Vernon, Old Town Alexandria and Arlington National Cemetery.
The trail can be tricky to follow as it passes through Alexandria because there are two route choices, both of which are on-street. The more popular route is along the waterfront, via Union St. The last mile heading toward Mount Vernon involves a reasonably significant climb. There are restrooms (May to September only) and water fountains along the route.
Capital Bikeshare has bike stations at the Kennedy Center; on the corner of Virginia Ave and 25th St NW; in the Georgetown Waterfront Park; and near the Iwo Jima Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery. All of these are close to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Remember that no bikes are allowed on the island's trails – you'll need to ride across the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge from The Mall or across the Francis Scott Key Bridge from Georgetown.