1. Capital Crescent
The Capital Crescent Trail is an 11-mile trail that stretches from the Georgetown neighborhood to Bethesda, Maryland. This trail is probably the most accessible from campus. If you just head down toward the waterfront and head North at the Potomac, you’ll find the trail head for this amazing path. The entire trail is paved and is wide enough for bikers, joggers, and walkers to comfortably share the path.
If you’re from a rural area and miss the beautiful scenery while you’re here in the city, this is 100% the path for you. All 11 miles are surrounded by thick forests and each clearing has a new amazing view of the river. There are places to stop and take in nature and even though it feels like you’re miles away from civilization, Canal Road and Clara Barton Parkway are just to the east so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
The C&O Trail is not as nicely paved as the Capital Crescent Trail but is incredibly accessible to campus and stretches for miles. This path follows the route of the historic C&O Canal and biking (or walking… or running) along it gives the opportunity to veer off and check out Embassy Row, views of the Potomac, Foggy Bottom, and so many other great DC sites.
3. Mt. Vernon
If you’re a real fiend for hills and history I’d suggest you take the time for a distance ride to George Washington’s home. Even if you don’t want to complete the 30+ mile round trip to Mt. Vernon and back, the bike trail will lead you toward Arlington National Cemetery, Gravelly Point Park, the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial, and the George Washington Memorial Bridge toward the National Mall. Similar to Capital Crescent, the Mt. Vernon Trail is entirely paved and is easily shared by bikers, joggers, and walkers.
4. East Potomac Park
East Potomac Park is a relatively easy ride. By following Mt. Vernon Trail and heading over the George Washington Memorial Bridge you’ll get a great view of our beloved city and eventually end up at East Potomac Park. This trail is a bit more crowded and more difficult to share, especially on weekends. This is my favorite weekday trail as the city is generally calmer and less crowded during the week. This trail is especially gorgeous during Cherry Blossom season.
5. Holmes Run Trail
This trail is better suited for the more adventuresome biker. Holmes Run is only partially paved and involves a bit of trekking through water. The views are gorgeous and if you’re one for nature this is an incredible escape from the city.