Shared-Use Trails

Photo: Multi-use trailThe Washington, DC area has a great network of off-street trails which are shared by cyclists, walkers, joggers, and others. Major area trails are listed below.

Anacostia Tributaries Trail System, a link in the national shore-to-shore American Discovery Trail, provides miles of uninterrupted trails along the tributaries of the Anacostia River. The southernmost point of the trail is located at Colmar Manor Community Park in Prince Georges County, and trail spurs extend northeasterly and northwesterly from there along beautiful stream valley parkland. The trail system links several neighborhoods to Metro stations, but commuters needing to travel at speeds greater than 12 miles per hour should consider alternative routes. The trail system is open for public use from sunrise to sunset each day.

Baltimore and Annapolis Trail, Anne Arundel County, MD. The Baltimore & Annapolis Trail is an established recreational greenway following the route of the old Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad from Glen Burnie to Annapolis. This linear park is 13.3 miles long and encompasses 112 acres. The trail has a 10-foot wide, paved surface within a 66-foot wide, landscaped corridor. The trail has a two percent grade and is used by walkers, runners, bicyclists and equestrians as well as various forms of wildlife. From Glen Burnie, a short connector path will take you over to the 11-mile BWI Trail.

BWI Trail, Anne Arundel County, MD. The 12.5-mile scenic trail encircles BWI Airport property and connects hikers, bicyclists, walkers and joggers to community resources, public transportation and area attractions. Most of the trail is constructed of asphalt; however, wooden boardwalks were used in environmentally sensitive areas to protect natural features.

Capital Crescent Trail. A Rails-To-Trails project that converted the old Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad that ran from Georgetown to Silver Spring, MD from a railroad bed to a paved trail with gentle gradients.

Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historical Park. National Park Service site with information about the 184-mile C&O Canal towpath, a great resource for hikers and bicyclists.

Custis Trail (I-66 Trail). Trail runs along I-66 in Arlington County and is protected by noise walls, open 24 hours a day and lit at night.

Four Mile Run Trail in south Arlington follows Four Mile Run, which is the boundary between Arlington and Alexandria. The trail runs east and west, linking the W&OD Trail and the Mt. Vernon Trail.

Henson Creek Trail provides a scenic, recreational route through Henson Creek Stream Valley Park in southern Prince Georges County for hiking, biking, jogging, horseback riding, and in-line skating.

Metropolitan Branch Trail. An eight-mile linear park and trail running parallel to Metro’s Red Line from Union Station in D.C. to Silver Spring, Maryland, connecting to the Capital Crescent Trail.

Mount Vernon Trail. Constructed by the National Park Service in 1973, the 18.5 mile Mount Vernon Trail runs along the Potomac River, parallel to the George Washington Parkway, between Theordore Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon, VA, connecting to the Custis and Washington & Old Dominion trails.

Rock Creek Trail, Montgomery County. This popular 18-mile asphalt trail runs from Lake Needwood in Montgomery County into D.C.

Torrey C. Brown Trail. This 21-mile trail extends from Ashland, Maryland, north of Baltimore, to just north of the Pennsylvania line. It connects with the York County Heritage Trail to continue to York, Pennsylvania.

Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis (WB&A) Trail. This Prince Georges County trail runs along the site of the former Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad.The 5.6-mile trail runs from Route 450 in Glenn Dale, northeast to the Patuxent River. Ancillary facilities include trail head parking and rest areas with benches, bike racks, and landscaping.

York County Heritage Trail. 21-mile trail from New Freedom, Pennsylvania to York Pennsylvania, connects to Maryland's Torrey C. Brown Trail, above.

Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail. Owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, the W&OD is a 45-mile multi-use rail-trail. Built on the roadbed of the former Washington & Old Dominion Railroad, the W&OD Trail runs through the urban heartland and countryside of Northern Virginia, from Shirlington near I-395 to Purcellville in Loudoun County. Friends of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, enhancement, and promotion of the W&OD Trail.

More Information

Washington Area Bicyclist Association's Trails Page – Map, list, and description of multi-use trails in the Washington, D.C. area, with links to more information about each.

Fairfax County Bike Trails - A guide to the recreational bicycle trails from Fairfax County's official site.

Bike Washington - The Recreational Bicycling Guide to the Washington, D.C. Area

Did You Know?

Higher levels of walkability are directly linked to higher home values.

CEOs for Cities, 2009


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