Mount Vernon Trail
(2006) This 40-mile roundtrip includes going out and back on the 18-mile Mount Vernon Trail. From the Dupont Circle area, I rode out M Street to the Frances Scott Key Bridge in Georgetown. Ride on the wide sidewalk on the bridge to the stoplight at Lee Highway. Turn left and follow the bike path back to the river's edge past Theodore Roosevelt Island. Shortly down the trail, you need to take a left onto the Mount Vernon Trail (no sign there) that begins as a boardwalk. If you don't turn left, you will head across a bridge back toward downtown!
Follow the scenic trail along the Potomac and past Ronald Reagan National Airport. About ten miles into the ride, you will arrive in the Alexandria area. After you pass a marina on the left, watch for a sign that says "River Route" and turn left to go into Old Town Alexandria. This trail will lead you to Union Street (nearest the water). Follow Union Street for its entire length until the trail picks up on the south side of town.
In Alexandria, there are some great restaurants to take a break for lunch or dinner. We had a late lunch al fresco on the way back at the waterfront Chart House restaurant. Afterwards, we toured the Torpedo Factory Art Center with more than 80 artist studios. There is also a Starbucks on Union Street in the middle of town.
As you leave Alexandria going south, be careful of the bridge construction. The remaining 10 miles to Mount Vernon takes you through Dyke Marsh and a few hilly sections, with an uphill climb at the very end. The trail ends in the Mount Vernon parking lot. The entrance to the mansion is at the far end of the parking lot.
If you need any repairs in Alexandria, stop by Big Wheel Bikes, one block off Union Street. Arlington has many bike trails and a great online map. The Custis Trail, a fun, hilly trail, begins at the end of the Mt. Vernon Trail in Arlington. It will take you to the 45-mile Washington and Old Dominion Trail.