3 Great Bike Rides in Washington, DC
If you’re new to road cycling— or to the Washington, DC, area—having these rides in your back pocket will come in handy.
Each of the following routes are under 3 hours and can be squeezed in on busy days. Need to get your weekly miles in or a find a specific kind of on-the-bike workout? These ride will keep your legs spinning throughout the season and help develop a solid range of road cycling skills.
1. Arlington Trail Loop
Take advantage of North Arlington’s great bike trails for a well-rounded cycling experience minus the car traffic.
Distance: 16 miles
Why it’s great: This route is all about the bike trails. It has flat sections, short punchy climbs, sharp corners, and only a few street crossings.
Car traffic: Nonexistent. You get to work on your basic fitness and bike handling skills while avoiding the stress of dealing with car traffic.
When to ride: Weekday evenings and early mornings are probably the best times to ride this loop, but don’t forget your lights if you’ll be there after dark. Avoid on weekend afternoons when it is packed with pedestrians.
Pro tip: If you find the trail dead ends into a quaint North Arlington neighborhood, you took an off-ramp. Reverse course back to the trail and continue. A temporary detour at 4 mile-run will route you on a road for a half mile. Trail gives a different experience in the reverse direction.
To get there: From DC, cross the Key Bridge from Georgetown toward Gateway Park in Rosslyn and swing a right on the Custis Trail at Lee Hwy. The full loop returns you to the Virginia side of the Key bridge.
Route map, cue sheet & GPS files: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20467361
2. Hains Point Laps in East Potomac Park
This two-lane, one direction 3-mile loop is surrounded by waterfront views and is a favorite among local cyclists of all levels on weekday evenings.
Distance: One full lap is 3.2 miles
Why it’s great: The long stretches of flat road are perfect to focus on tempo spinning, cadence exercises, intervals, pace-line riding, and sprints. With only 3 stop signs along the loop, riders can easily get into a zone for a singular workout or a group workout experience.
Pro tips: Fast groups of riders will pass slower riders on their left. It’s easy to join a group of riders for pace-lining at 20+ mph if you know how it’s done.
Car traffic: Sporadic. Look out for cars taking picnic-goers and tour buses that sometimes park in the area.
To get there: Ride to George Mason Memorial at East Basin & Ohio Dr. SW and follow Ohio Drive south into the Park and turn left at the stop sign.
Route map, cue sheet & GPS files: None needed! Follow the other cyclists, ride loop and repeat as often as desired!
3. Beach Drive Out and Back
A true DC gem that is surprisingly elusive to the more casual cyclists.
Distance: 24 miles
Why it’s great: One of the best roads to ride for a 3 hour escape from city through national park land with scenery you usually have to drive hours to find. Features mostly flat riding conditions with a few climbs and descents.
Car traffic: Restricted on multiple stretches of Beach drive from Saturday morning until Sunday evening and on holidays. The road opens up to car traffic just before the DC/Maryland border but traffic is light and drivers there are accustomed to road cyclists.
Pro-tips: Best on weekends.There are rest rooms & water fountains by the start and at the turn around point at Garrett Park. Avoid during weekday evenings. If you are looking to build your climbing skills, detour onto Ridge Rd and Ross Dr around the Horse Arena.
To get there: Ride to Pierce Mill and follow the Western Ridge Trail north to Beach Drive & Broad Branch Road and follow Beach Drive north.
Route map, cue sheet & GPS files: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20466756
Get out and enjoy! Let us know about your favorite local route in the comments below.