Taking a family bike ride is a great way to stay healthy and explore more of your hometown all at once. The real challenge is finding a bike trail that’s right for everyone in your crew. Luckily, we explored all the nooks and crannies in the DMV and found a bike route or two that are perfect for everyone. Whether you’ve got a few trikes and balance bikes in your group or are ready to hit the bigger trails on two wheels, keep reading to discover our favorite bike trails for families.  

Starting Out

If your little ones have just started to pedal on their own, head out to one of these easy, kid-friendly loops. It’s never too early to start your family bike riding tradition.

Glencarlyn Park Learning Loop, VA

This short loop just off the W&OD trail in Glencarlyn Park is paved, striped and the perfect place for beginners. Kids and other learners can get used to riding on a trail while also picking up important trail etiquette before moving onto bigger paths. The Glencarlyn Playground, a water bottle filler and a bike repair station will keep everyone happy and refreshed.

Online: arlingtonva.us/locations/glencarlyn-park

U.S. Arboretum, DC

Bring a picnic to this 3.5-mile loop around the U.S. Arboretum for when you’re ready to take a break. The short distance and flat path make it perfect for those newest to biking, including trikes and balance bikes. Enjoy the grounds, gardens and exhibits before, during and after your ride.

Online: usna.usda.gov

Mount Vernon Trail, VA

Winding from Theodore Roosevelt Island to Mount Vernon, this 18-mile trail is largely flat and mostly car free, making it the perfect path to hop on and off of with little ones. You’ll share the trail, and its panoramic views of DC’s monuments and wetlands, with bikers, joggers, dog walkers and other families. The trail is dotted with plenty of public restrooms, water fountains and picnic tables for when everyone needs a break.

Online: nps.gov/gwmp/planyourvisit/mtvernontrail.htm

Anacostia Riverwalk, DC

Families love this 20-mile path that circles the Anacostia River. Since it isn’t a commuter trail, it tends to be less crowded and intense than some of the other paths in and around the city. The full trail runs from the Tidal Basin in DC to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, but you can hop on and off wherever you like. Views you don’t normally see of the city plus fun ponds make stopping for a break even more enjoyable.

Online: ddot.dc.gov/page/anacostia-riverwalk-trail

Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail

Save for a half-mile uphill section between Oxon Hill Road and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, this roughly 3.5-mile trail is flat and easy, dotted with benches and sightseeing telescopes. From the trail, you can access National Harbor, a nice spot to break for lunch, shopping, and playtime before biking home.

Online: pgparks.com/woodrow-wilson-bridge-trail

Ready to Roll

When your crew is comfortable on their wheels and ready for a longer trek, try one of these paths for a bit more challenge and a lot of fun.

Capital Crescent Trail, DC/MD

The 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail runs from Georgetown to Silver Spring and offers lovely Potomac River views. Go Southbound for a mostly downhill ride or travel North for a bit more of a challenge. Note that the path is paved between Georgetown and Bethesda but turns to gravel as you continue North. There are also no public restrooms along the trail. 

Online: cctrail.org

W&OD Trail, VA

Hop on and off this 45-mile path that runs between Shirlington and Purceville, through Falls Church, Arlington, Reston and more. It is paved the entire way, making it a favorite route for serious cyclists and commuters. But don’t let that scare you off. As long as your crew is steady on their bikes and aware of proper biking etiquette, the trail is a great place to get a ride in.

Online: novaparks.com/parks/washington-and-old-dominion-railroad-regional-park

Sligo Creek Trail, MD

This 10.6-mile trail runs through parks, playgrounds and picnic areas, making it ideal for families of all shapes and sizes. Starting in Hyattsville, the path runs through Takoma Park and ends at Wheaton Regional Park where an ice rink, mini train and carousel make for a nice end-of-ride treat. Other sections of the trail can be hilly with busy street crossings, so pick the section that’s right for you and your family and get out there!

Online: montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/sligo-creek-stream-valley-park/sligo-creek-stream-valley-trail/

Hains Point

While this roughly 4-mile loop can see some car traffic, it’s rather limited, especially on weekends when part of Ohio Drive is closed to cars. The perks of taking on this path are the views of the city’s best memorials. 

Online: nps.gov/subjects/cherryblossom/upload/HainesPt-01-2.jpg


—Tricia Mirchandani


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