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Mount Vernon Trail – Northern Virginia’s Scenic Trail

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Mount Vernon Trail

Mount Vernon Trail

© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The Mount Vernon Trail runs parallel to the George Washington Memorial Parkway and follows the west bank of the Potomac River from Theodore Roosevelt Island to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. The paved multi-use recreation trail is nearly 18 miles long and is a favorite of area cyclists and runners. The trail offers wonderful views of the Potomac River and Washington DC’s famous landmarks.

The terrain on the Mount Vernon Trail is fairly flat and an easy bike ride. The path passes though Old Town Alexandria where it requires riding on the street with vehicle traffic. At the northern end at Roosevelt Island, you can cross the footbridge and head west on the Custis Trail which connects to the W&OD Trail, a 45 mile rail trail through Northern Virginia. South of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, the last mile has a pretty good climb heading toward Mount Vernon.

Points-of-Interest and Parking Along the Mount Vernon Trail

Theodore Roosevelt Island - The 91-acre wilderness preserve has 2 1/2 miles of foot trails where you can observe a variety of flora and fauna. A 17-foot bronze statue of Roosevelt in the center of the island serves as a memorial honoring Roosevelt's contributions to conservation of public lands for forests, national parks, wildlife and bird refuges. Parking: Limited, gets busy on weekends. Bikes are not allowed on the island.

Arlington National Cemetery - More than 250,000 American servicemen as well as many famous Americans are buried at the 612 acre national cemetery. Guided tours are available and visitors are free to explore the grounds. Parking: Paid lot available for visitors.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove - The memorial is set in a grove of trees and 15 acres of gardens along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The memorial has easy access to the Mount Vernon Trail and is a part of the Lady Bird Johnson Park, a tribute to the former first lady's role in beautifying the country's and Washington, DC's landscape. Parking: Limited

Navy-Marine Memorial - The statue of gulls in flight above a wave honors Americans who have served at sea. At this point along the Mount Vernon Trail, visitors see a great view of the Washington DC skyline. No Parking.

Gravelly Point - The park is located north of National Airport on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. This is a popular picnic spot with a nice view of the Washington DC skyline and convenient access to the Mount Vernon Trail. Parking: Large lot

Reagan National Airport - The airport is located just four miles from downtown Washington. From the Mount Vernon Trail you can watch the planes take off and land on the airport runway. Parking: Paid lots

Daingerfield Island - The island is home to Washington Sailing Marina, the city’s premier sailing facility offering sailing lessons, boat and bike rentals. Parking: Large lot

Old Town Alexandria - The historic neighborhood dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, it is a revitalized waterfront with cobblestone streets, colonial houses and churches, museums, shops and restaurants. The Mount Vernon Trail follows the city streets through Alexandria. Parking: Street parking and numerous public lots are available. See a guide to parking in Old Town

Belle Haven Marina - The marina is home to Mariner Sailing School which offers sailing lessons and boat rentals. Parking: Large lot

Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve - The 485 acre preserve is one of the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetlands in the region. Visitors can hike the trails and see a diverse array of plants and animals. No Parking

Fort Hunt National Park - The park is open year-round for picnicking and hiking. Free concerts are held here during the summer months. This is a good place to begin a ride along the Mount Vernon Trail. Parking: Large lot

Riverside Park - The park, nestled between the GW Parkway and the Potomac River, offers vistas overlooking the river and views of osprey and other waterfowl. Parking: Public lot

Mount Vernon Estate - The home of George Washington is one of the region's top attractions. Visit the mansion, the outbuildings, the gardens and the museum and learn about the life of America's first president and his family. Parking: Multiple lots, busy on weekends and holidays

Metrorail Access to the Mount Vernon Trail

Several Metrorail stations are within close proximity to the Mount Vernon Trail: Rossyln, Arlington Cemetery, Reagan National Airport, and Braddock Road. Bicycles are permitted on Metrorail weekdays except 7-10 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. They are also permitted all day Saturday and Sunday as well as most holidays (limited to four bicycles per car).

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