Washington D.C.'s Rail-Trail

Designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Recreation Trail in 1987, the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is one of the skinniest and longest parks in Virginia (100-feet wide, 45-miles long).



Contributed By RealAdventures

By: John M. Smith

Since the head office of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is located in Washington, D.C., it's rather appropriate that the nearby Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is the most heavily used of all Rails-Trails. With the incredible road traffic in the Washington, D.C. area, it's very refreshing that this beautiful 45-mile long route is available and used by many commuters daily. Since it's also a fantastic recreational facility, expect heavy traffic on this paved path, particularly right around the capital vicinity.

Designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Recreation Trail in 1987, the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Regional Park is owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. One of the skinniest and longest parks in Virginia (100-feet wide, 45-miles long), the W&OD Railroad Regional Park (a.k.a. "The WAD") takes its name from the railroad that ran along this route from 1859 to1968. Also along this paved path is an equestrian trail (33-miles of crushed stone and dirt, between Vienna and Purcellville), providing a nice variety for the fat-tire biker and hiker, but take heed: it's primarily used for horseback riding.

For some outer-city limits riding, start just across the Potomac River, in Virginia (just off I-395 at Exit 6, in the Shirlington area of Arlington County, Virginia). You'll encounter incredible urban sprawl as you ride northwest, passing through the relatively new developments in Reston, Herndon, Sterling, and Ashburn. The bright yellow line that centers the paved path, along with the mile markers and signs, make this trail easy to follow. And although it's not a particularly challenging route, there are some hills (especially in the vicinity of Herndon and Sterling). There are also some busy roads to cross (such as Sterling Avenue), but you'll also find several overpasses that cut down on this problem.

If you have a fanatic shopper in your cycling group, then stop at Reston for its beautiful outdoor fountain, sidewalk cafes, and unique, upscale shops. At Ashburne, you'll also find a nice stopping place at Smiths Switch Station (with bike racks, washrooms, pop machines, and picnic tables).

As you continue riding northwest from Ashburn, you'll arrive next at Leesburg, one of the oldest towns in northern Virginia. This is where many important U.S. documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, were stored during the War of 1812. Finally, you'll have escaped from D.C.'s sea of humanity, and will now be riding through the rural tranquility of Virginia's western Loudoun County. Here you'll find old farmhouses among rolling pastures with distant, but exquisite views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The WAD's other appeal is its proximity to several other paved paths in the D.C. area, like the Four Mile Run Trail, the Mount Vernon Trail, and the Custis Trail which connects to Arlington County's 17-mile "Arlington Triangle." An excellent bike map of these trails can be purchased from the Arlington Department of Public Works. Arlington County also provides trails to Arlington Cemetery and the Washington National Airport.

You can also cross the Potomac River and hook up with several trails within Washington, D.C. itself. For instance, the 14th Street Bridge leads to the Tidal Basin and Potomac Park Trails; the Memorial Bridge takes you to the Reflecting Pool and Mall Trails; and the Roosevelt Bridge hooks up with the Mall and Rock Creek Park Trails. The Key Bridge provides access to the Capital Crescent Trail (a paved rail-trail that runs between Georgetown and Silver Spring), and also to the C&O Canal Towpath (a gravel path that extends 185-miles into Cumberland, Maryland).

The C&O Canal Towpath offers cyclists a number of interesting loop rides. I'll mention two of the area's best. One 7-mile loop takes you northwest on the paved Capital Crescent T rail to the Chain Bridge (just past Fletcher's Boathouse), where it switches over to the parallel C&O Canal Towpath. Here the trail ventures southeast for the return trip to the Key Bridge area.

The other, longer route is the 75-mile "C&O and W&O Loop", which takes you northwest on the W&OD Trail to Leesburg, Virginia. Here you ride on the very busy Highway 15 for almost 4-miles until the Potomac River crossing at Whites Ferry (a toll ferry). Then you ride southeast back to Georgetown on the C&O Canal Towpath where you return to the W&OD Trail and complete this loop.

The Metropolitan Branch Trail is yet another Rail-trail that is now under development. This 7-mile paved path take cyclists from Silver Spring, Maryland directly into D.C.'s Union Station. From here a 2-mile spur at Fort Totten connects with the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which then leads to the 24-mile Stream Valley Trail System in suburban Maryland. These trails are alternatives to some of Washington, D.C.'s busiest roads, providing cyclists with safe, yet convenient city accesses.

These paved trails provide a great variety of recreational opportunities for both D.C. locals and visitors alike. They are, of course, popular with rollerbladers, walkers, j oggers, cyclists, and wheelchairs!

"The W&OD Trail Guide" (with 25 detailed map pages with symbols to indicate connecting trail systems, bike repair shops, etc.) is available for purchase from area bike shops and the Northern Virginia Regional Parks office.





interactive map  Interactive Map

Map Legend
Washington D.C.'s Rail-Trail
Washington, D.C.









RealAdventures
Washington D.C.'s Rail-Trail
Washington, D.C.

Website: Hooked On The Outdoors

Show Filter



Active Vacation Ideas   View More...

Canoe, kayak and tube the famous Shenandoah RiverCanoe, kayak and tube the famous Shenand...

75.7 mi away
Luray, Virginia Kayaking & Canoeing


Delmarva Balloon RidesDelmarva Balloon Rides...

40.9 mi away
Chester, Maryland Ballooning


From USD $245 per Trip
River RidersRiver Riders...

48.0 mi away
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia Rafting Trips


Whitewater Rafting, Tubing, Zipline, and CanoeingWhitewater Rafting, Tubing, Zipline, and...

48.0 mi away
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia Rafting Trips


From USD $27 per Trip
Monticello Country BallooningMonticello Country Ballooning...

98.2 mi away
Charlottesville, Virginia Ballooning


From USD $225 per Trip
Lantern Lane FarmLantern Lane Farm...

55.1 mi away
Leesburg, Virginia Horseback Riding


From USD $35 per Trip
Hike and Explore Assateague IslandHike and Explore Assateague Island...

20.1 mi away
Savage, Maryland Hiking & Trekking


From USD $399 per Trip
River and Trail OutfittersRiver and Trail Outfitters...

46.8 mi away
Knoxville, Maryland Kayaking & Canoeing


From USD $57 per Trip
Bolivar/NTR Canoe LiveryBolivar/NTR Canoe Livery...

49.3 mi away
Bolivar, Ohio Kayaking & Canoeing


From USD $18 per Trip
Buck Valley Ranch LLCBuck Valley Ranch LLC...

85.4 mi away
Warfordsburg, Pennsylvania Horseback Riding


From USD $90 per Night
Va Beach Skydiving SchoolVa Beach Skydiving School...

95.9 mi away
Mattaponi, Virginia Skydiving


Family Rafting only one hour from Washington DCFamily Rafting only one hour from Washin...

48.0 mi away
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia Rafting Trips


From USD $55 per Trip


Personal Growth Ideas   View More...

Away from the everydayAway from the everyday...

79.5 mi away
High View, West Virginia Summer Camps & Programs


From USD $1,350 per Week


Tours & Vacation Packages   View More...

Your Path to Nature Travel at IWAYour Path to Nature Travel at IWA...

0.8 mi away
South Puget Sound, Washington Sight-Seeing Tours




Accommodation Ideas   View More...

Thomas Shepherd InnThomas Shepherd Inn...

55.8 mi away
Shepherdstown, West Virginia Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $150 per Night
Comforts Inn Gettysburg in PA - Best PlaceComforts Inn Gettysburg in PA - Best Pla...

64.6 mi away
Georgiana, Pennsylvania Hotels & Resorts


Cabins at Chesley Creek FarmCabins at Chesley Creek Farm...

93.0 mi away
Dyke, Virginia Vacation Rentals


From USD $190 per Night
Beautiful Weekends or Vacations At 7 C's LodgingBeautiful Weekends or Vacations At 7 C's...

99.3 mi away
Flintstone, Maryland Hotels & Resorts


From USD $99 per Night
Spinnaker Chincoteague Waterfront Vacation House -Spinnaker Chincoteague Waterfront Vacati...

112.5 mi away
Chincoteague Island, Virginia Vacation Rentals


From USD $1,199 per Week
Afton Mountain Bed & BreakfastAfton Mountain Bed & Breakfast...

116.2 mi away
Afton, Virginia Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $119 per Night
Heaven Scent Bed & BreakfastHeaven Scent Bed & Breakfast...

98.9 mi away
Deltaville, Virginia Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $125 per Night
Nature, Comfort & Simplicity, Virginia CottagesNature, Comfort & Simplicity, Virginia C...

102.2 mi away
Crozet, Virginia Vacation Rentals


From USD $143 per Night
Joshua Wilton House Inn & RestaurantJoshua Wilton House Inn & Restaurant...

103.5 mi away
Harrisonburg, Virginia Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $145 per Night
200 South Street Inn200 South Street Inn...

98.5 mi away
Charlottesville, Virginia Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $110 per Night
Marquis Manor Bed and BreakfastMarquis Manor Bed and Breakfast...

23.6 mi away
Eastern Shore, Maryland Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $88 per Night
Briar Patch B & B InnBriar Patch B & B Inn...

33.9 mi away
Middleburg, Virginia Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $95 per Night



Show Filter

Advertise Your Accommodation or Travel Services


Create A ListingGreat Vacations & Exciting Destinations Listing
Add a multi-page listing promoting your accommodations, tours or travel services to customers on our network of travel sites. Your listing page can have up to 26 images, unlimited text, interactive map, availability calendar, ecards, photo-gallery and more.
Rates From US $17 Per Month    » View Details



Free Travel Ideas Newsletter
Get your free Travel Ideas Newsletter full of great travel deals, destinations and adventures.

Your Name:
Your E-Mail Address



Disclaimer: Information provided through RealAdventures website, newsletters, emails or other services has been provided directly by the companies and/or individuals owning or offering the products/services. RealAdventures does not guarantee or warranty the accuracy of the information contained herein. It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure the accuracy and clarity of any posted material and to determine the suitability of any service for their particular needs or requirements. Likewise, it is the responsibility of advertisers to determine the suitability and credit worthiness of potential customers prior to any transaction.


Listing # RA-1024261