Cycling in Washington, DC, means urban sightseeing, rail trails, and adventures in nature.
As a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community, DC already has major cred as a cycling city. There are 150 miles of bustling bike lanes and trails — many of which connect bucket-list sites, meander through serene parks like Rock Creek, and contour along waterways — and it’s ranked second nationally among large cities for residents who bike to work.
In the coming years, the Capital Trail Coalition is building an 800-mile network to connect the entire metro region. Topographically, it’s like a shallow bowl, with river terraces and subtle ridges surrounding the basin of the Mall — which translates to plenty of flats with a few gentle climbs.
Several rail trails, including the paved Capital Crescent Trail and the gravelly Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, make it easy to cruise away from the city limits and connect to smaller rural roads. Want to get way off the blacktop? Try the area around Bluemont, which accesses the Blue Ridge (and miles of gravel).
Though the mountains aren’t high, the mountain biking can be excellent, especially at Gambrill State Park, the Frederick Watershed, and George Washington National Forest. Every September, some 9,000 cyclists roll past monuments and over bridges in the 20-mile DC Bike Ride, the only time the city goes car-free.