Archives for posts with tag: family bike 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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Create Lasting Family Memories

In our lives which seem to get busier by the day the time on the bike allows us to escape, slow down our lives, while regenerating our body and our mind. The bicycle is a wonderful tool, a tool for fitness, a tool for transportation but it is also a great tool for the family.

I remember growing up our family would occasionally ride our bikes through Valley Forge National Park. Valley Forge was so cool because the bike path was rolling and wound around through so many great areas of the park. There was the long hill that was always a challenge to climb and at the top of the hill was a statute of a man riding a horse. (I had to look it up to remind myself that it is the statue of Anthony Wayne) That was also the top of the world’s best sledding hill at least in the opinion of a ten year old. After a hard fought climb I was always rewarded with a fun downhill ride that led off to the next adventure. The trail passes close by some of the cabins that George Washington’s soldiers spent the winter in.  I used to enjoy stopping there and wandering through the cabins imagining what it must have been like for the soldiers back then.  Of course no ride was complete without a stop at the visitor center where I could get some water.  Some of these rides were enjoyed by my Mom, Dad and I some of them were adventures that Mom and I would have.

I remember spending time with my Dad rebuilding the first bike he bought me that had gears from a garage sale, those gears certainly made climbing that hill easier.  While Mom and Dad had the coolest Raleigh 3 Speeds with a Brooks saddle I wasn’t afforded the luxury of a new bike just yet. That would come later as a Christmas Present.

I cherish all of these memories of time spent with the family all because of cycling.

When is the last time you took your family on a bike ride?

A bike ride with the family doesn’t have to be some monumental trip. It can be as simple as a ride around your neighborhood, a longer trip requiring more planning or something in between.  For my family the rides never occurred on a regular basis they just seemed to happen.

Families today are so busy these days running each and every way. A bike ride can become the time that everyone looks forward to, a time to catch up with each other, get outside to enjoy the great outdoors with an added side bonus of some fitness.

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