Whether you’ve got a tricycle, a balance bike, or two wheels, here are the best family-friendly bike paths near DC

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. 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 near DC.  

The Best Bike Paths near DC for Beginner Bikers

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.

1. Metropolitan Branch Trail

This rail-to-trail runs 8 miles from Silver Spring, MD to Union Station, but for now, you can hop on between NoMa and upper Northeast for an easy, 4-mile ride. There is a steep section in the Fort Trotten area, so little peddlers may want to skip this section or walk their bikes up the steep hill. While this trail lacks the views and greenery of some of the other trails featured on this list, it does boast a number of murals and public art works. This trail is used frequently by commuters, so weekend rides are best for those looking to avoid heavy cycle traffic.

Online: traillink.com

2. Rock Creek Park

Head to Beach Dr. on a weekend or holiday when the road is closed, and your little one can ride their bikes in a city street! If you’re going to take to a trail, hit a path during workday hours to avoid other cyclists. If you start on the north end of the park and head south, your kiddos can coast mostly downhill (of course, that requires some pre-planning for when you reach the bottom).

Online: nps.gov

3. Anacostia Riverwalk

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. And getting to see views of the city you don’t normally get to see, plus fun ponds make stopping for a break even more enjoyable.

Online: ddot.dc.gov

4. National Mall

Enjoy a family bike tour of the National Mall with Bike & Roll (or simply rent a cycle from their fleet for a no hassle day out). Or BYOB (bring your own bike), and enjoy the flat, easy-to-navigate trails and paths around the Smithsonian museums and national monuments. If you plan on visiting a Smithsonian Museum during your day out, some of the museums require advance tickets so be sure to reserve your entry ticket ahead of time.

Online: nationalmall.org

5. Glencarlyn Park Learning Loop

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. A handy water bottle filler station keeps everyone happy and refreshed.

Online: arlingtonva.us

6. Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail

Save for a half-mile uphill section between Oxon Hill Rd. and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, this roughly 3.5-mile trail is flat and easy. 

Online: pgparks.com

The Best Bike Paths near DC for Bikers

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.

1. U.S. National Arboretum

There is so much to see and so much land to cover, consider checking out the U.S. National Arboretum by bike! Sections of the trails and paths are hilly, so it is best for older kiddos who are steady on their bikes and have stamina (or for younger kids willing to hop off and walk their bikes up steeper sections).

Online: usna.usda.gov


2. Capital Crescent Trail

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.

Good to Know: There are no public restrooms along the trail. 

Online: cctrail.org

3. Hains Point

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

Online: recreation.gov

4. Washington & Old Dominion Trail

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

5. Sligo Creek Trail

Start in Hyattsville, and bike the 10.6-mile path that runs through Takoma Park and ends at Wheaton Regional Park.

Good to Know: Other sections of this nearby DC bike trail can be hilly with busy street crossings.

Online: montgomeryparks.org

6. Mount Vernon Trail

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, and dog walkers. The trail is dotted with plenty of water fountains and picnic tables for when everyone needs a break.

Online: nps.gov

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