Archives for category: Rides

The Mount Vernon Trail is 18 miles long and runs between George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Theodore Roosevelt Island with a whole lot to see and do in between.

We recently rode it and started in Old Town Alexandria and headed up towards Theodore Roosevelt Island.

The Lincoln and Washington Monuments

Parking

We ended up doing street parking in Old Town Alexandria since I couldn’t find a lot specifically for the trail. Along the ride we came across Gravelly Point Park which would be a great place to park and also watch the planes coming from and leaving Reagan National Airport. Once we had been to the end and back we headed a little further south and found a huge parking lot located underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Jones Point Park. This was especially nice because it had air conditioned restrooms. Our ride was an afternoon during the week. So I imagine that this lot may be pretty busy on the weekend but can’t say for sure.

The Ride

We followed signs to the trail from where we had parked and promptly found that section to be closed. So we rode around a little and just ended up following South Union Street to where the trail really resumed. There are lots of parks in this section and it doesn’t appear that the trail is super continuous along the river here. South Union Street has a marked bike line and was easy to ride. I think from looking at maps and more research after the ride that this is actually the intended route for the Mount Vernon Trail but it is just poorly marked.

Once that was sorted out it was super easy to follow. The trail is actually very well signed with points of interest and distances to them along the route. You could certainly grab your bike and spend

The trail is well marked.

a full day using the Mount Vernon Trail to site see.

There is access to Arlington National Cemetery from the trail. Of course Mount Vernon on one end and Theodore Roosevelt Island on the other end. Bikes aren’t allowed on the Island but there is a bike rack to secure your bike to. Lady Bird Johnson Park, downtown Rosslyn, VA, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Old Town Alexandria are a few more places of interest to explore. You can also ride your bike across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to National Harbor. Which is what we are planning on doing during our next ride in this area. Access is also available the Washington and Old Dominion Trail that will run you 45 miles outside of town to Purcellville.

Mount Vernon Trail Boardwalk

A section crossing wetlands on the    Mount Vernon Trail

I was quickly impressed by the diversity this trail offered during the ride. Out of the city and I was soon on a path paralleling the Potomac with residential high rises. Then before you knew it I was on a boardwalk riding in a wet land area which then opened up to a public park. Shortly after that we were passing a marina followed by Reagan National Airport. Often we stopped to take in the sites and snap a few pictures. National Monuments are in almost every direction you look. Each view better than the next. Then we came across Gravelly Point Park. Which as I mentioned

Flying overhead

before has lot of parking but more interestingly this park is literally part of the approach to Reagan Nationals Airport. The planes fly directly overhead. So if you are looking for peace and quiet this may not be the place for you but there is plenty to see.

The trail is rolling but certainly should be able to be ridden by anyone who can ride a bike. It isn’t as flat as a rail to trail trail but I wouldn’t let that scare any rider away. It also has a convenient yellow strip down the center to remind users where they need to be on the trail.

The trail comes to an unceremonious end at Theodore Roosevelt Island. There is a ramp there that looks like it heads into Rosslyn so you can continue to explore.

The trail wasn’t super busy but as we got later in the afternoon more people commuting on the trail started showing up and more people were using it for their afternoon workout. I imagine based on its location it could be busy but it is still worth checking out.

After our return towards the car we headed a little further south from our starting point and rode a few miles south of Old Town. Here the trail started to become less city in nature and more open space. We didn’t ride all the way to Mount Vernon but returned to our car where we did drive all the way to the end to check out the rest of the trail.

The further south you get from Old Town Alexandria you certainly get out of the city and come across some parks and then end up riding thru residential areas before the trail reaches Mount

Vernon. This section looked to be very enjoyable in many cases you lost sight of the trail from George Washington Memorial Parkway. As the trail hides it’s self in the “woods” and does cross the Parkway in a few places. You also pass by Fort Hunt Park.

Our next ride on the Mount Vernon Trail we plan to park at National Harbor and ride across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and head south to Mount Vernon. If you haven’t explored the Mount Vernon Trail I encourage you to do so.

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The Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) is 22.5 mile long rails to trail that runs from Pearre Station, Maryland on the west end to Fort Frederick on the eastern most end.

The trail is paved and being a rails to trail trail it is relatively flat. During our ride we saw cyclists, walkers and an in line skater. I imagine in the winter this would also be a good cross country ski trail. (Not sure if they clear it of snow.)

Canal access in Hancock from the Western Maryland Rail Trail

My wife and I chose to start in Hancock and ride to towards Pearre Station. We had learned from talking to friends that this was the more scenic portion of the trail. The portion heading east parallels 70 much more closely. You can see the trail from 70 in several sections. Yet this section also has more access to services so if you are a thru traveler this section may come as a welcomed relief, as may a paved trail. The Western Maryland Rail Trail should certainly be considered as a route option for those riding the Great Allegheny Passage and C & O Canal between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

Parking and Access

Access to the trail is very easy with parking just off of Interstate 70 in Hancock. We parked at the first WMRT lot that was signed off 70 in Hancock. We rode during a weekday and the lot looked to be used primarily as a Park and Ride lot. Access to the trail was easily found at the end of the lot. As we rode into Hancock there was more parking, free parking looked limited but there was a metered lot. This was about .4 miles from where we parked.

Heading in this direction Hancock is one of the last places to access services. The services are marked by signs on the trail which is super convenient. On the western end of Hancock is C & O

Services Signage

Bicycles in case you need anything. Others who have ridden the trail tell me services are more plentiful east of Hancock but the section we rode is much more scenic. We did pass a trail side B&B during our ride and some houses had coolers with bottled water if you needed to top off.

Hancock provides access to both the Western Maryland Rail Trail and the C & O Canal. It is also home to a visitor center for the Canal with a lot just prior to the one we parked in for the WMRT.

The Ride

The view just gets better.

This is a unique rail trail as it is very scenic with cuts through stone etc. following the old rail bed. Lots of energy was used in creating this trail when it is was being built. The trail is in pretty good shape with the usual ripples in the trail from roots breaking the pavement but it isn’t terrible. There are lots of historical markers and even a B&B along the way. Distances are marked with white posts in one mile increments.

 

We rode to Pearre on the western end of the trail and returned the same way. We had a little side trip down a road to a valley to view a waterfall we could hear from the trail. The trail end is a crossing over place to the canal at Lock 56. There aren’t many places to cross between the trails in this section but it is possible in some areas.

Western Maryland Rail Trail

Enjoying the scenery on the western Maryland Rail Trail

The WMRT runs “above” the Canal in this portion and it does so for the entire length. While we rode an out and back on the WMRT one ride option would be to ride the C & O Canal for part of your ride and then “loop” back on the WMRT. This would make your return ride a little easier on the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail versus the gravel surface of the C&  O Canal. Plus you would get two perspectives from your ride.

The trail is on the narrower side then some rails to trails but plenty wide to ride and pass other cyclists. We saw lots of wildlife along the way and had a great day of riding. While this Western Maryland Rail Trail would be fun to ride any time of year I imaging the fall foliage would be spectacular. We’ll certainly be back to check out the rest of the trail and enjoy the foliage.

From Jon Korin of Bike AAA:

The weather is perfect so if you’re not already out riding, now is the time to dust off your bike, pump the tires, strap on your helmet and ride!    There are a variety of events coming up so pick one or more and start pedaling!

Bike 2 Work May 15 Ride to work on National Bike to Work Day!    There will be a variety of meetup points and pitstops around the county with a main event with County Exec Steve Schuh, Mayor Mike Pantelides, County Councilman Chris Trumbauer (all biking) and others  at Market House Annapolis at 8:30 AM.   More details at www.bike2workcentralmd.com – Editors Note: Crofton Bike Doctor will be at the Odenton MARC/Amtrak Station

Ride of Silence LogoMay 20 Ride of Silence.  a global event in memory of cyclists killed or severely injured.    Our first Annapolis Ride of Silence in memory of Trish Cunningham and Tom “Doc” Heslin, both lost
in 2013, will begin at Bates Middle School in Annapolis with meetup at 630pm and a slow, silent 10 mile ride to Bay Ridge and back.    An important way to remember the fallen and convey a message of safety to drivers and cyclists.   Details and free registration at www.bit.ly/annapolis-ros

 

Lifeline LogoLifeline100 Earlybird Registration until June 1.   The second annual Lifeline100  on October 18, 2015 offers 100 and 65 mile scenic rides through the county as well as 30 and 15 mile trail-only rides plus a free children’s bike rodeo and Make Health Happen health fair, all at Kinder Farm Park in Millersville.    Discount registration is open until June 1.     For details visit www.lifeline100.com . Editors Note: Bike Doctor is a proud sponsor of this ride and I we are looking forward to it this year!

 

 

National Bike Challenge.  Every year from May to September, People for Bikes runs the National Bike Challenge – free registration at  www.nationalbikechallenge.org.   This is a fun way to log your miles and participate as our county competes with other areas of the country .    Prizes are randomly drawn from participants, but you have to score more points to be able to win the top prizes. This isn’t a speed contest, as points are awarded for daily riding and total miles.  You can manually log your rides, or the challenge can now sync with your Strava, Endomondo, or Map My Ride accounts.  You can look at where you stand within your city, county, or state, as well as nationwide.

 

 

Bike AAA Logo

Bicycle Advocates for Annapolis & Anne Arundel County  (“BikeAAA”)

A 501c3 non-profit promoting safe cycling for transportation, recreation & fitness

www.bikeaaa.org

www.facebook.com/groups/bikeaaa