Favorite Bike Rides Near Washington, D.C.

Because Felkerino and I are frequently asked for ride recommendations around the area, I thought I’d put together a post of some of our favorite local routes. All start in the city and I’ve included rides of around 80 miles up to 200.

Note: For any rides that include White’s Ferry, you will need to make sure that the ferry is operating. They usually update via their Facebook page. 

Between Poolesville and River Road

The Great Fred Highway, 75 miles: D.C. to Poolesville, Maryland, and back. If you’re tired of riding the W&OD for your miles, the D.C. to Poolesville loop is a nice one. The general route is D.C. on local roads to Glen Echo, on MacArthur past Great Falls over to Potomac. Then out River Road (aka “the Great Fred Highway”), and take a right on Hughes or West Willard – either road will T you into Poolesville. You can then stop for breakfast or lunch at The Watershed Cafe or Bassett’s… or a faster stop, if need be. Once you reach Great Falls, the route is rolling, but nothing brutal.

This is an 80-mile Ride With GPS variation linked by the DC Tri Club’s site.

W&OD in Vienna, Va.

Leesburg Loop, 80’ish miles: Starts in D.C., crosses the river into Virginia in the first five miles, and takes the Custis and W&OD Trails out to Leesburg. The route winds around to White’s Ferry for a quick ferry ride across the Potomac River into Maryland, continues on roads near Poolesville, and returns to D.C. via Potomac, Maryland and MacArthur Boulevard. The route is flat for the first half out to Leesburg and White’s Ferry, and is rolling on the return via Maryland until you reach Potomac.

See here for the Ride With GPS for the Leesburg Loop.

Overlook at Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf Century from D.C., 100 miles: A century on the nose to the mountain closest to D.C. It’s quite a small mountain, but you’ll definitely be able to tell when you’re climbing it. Plenty of flattish parts, with rollers mixed in, especially the further out one rides from the District.

Ride With GPS files for the Sugarloaf Century that goes out and returns from Poolesville is here. Another variation on the ride that uses the W&OD and returns via Poolesville is here.

Lilypons, I believe

D.C.-Frederick-D.C., 120 miles. A mostly rolling ride that’s great for building up base miles. No mountains, but a nice destination of Frederick, and a distance that makes you feel like you really went somewhere. We used to go to Gravel & Grind for a midpoint stop, but sadly it is no longer there so I have no Frederick lunch recommendations off the top of my head. Many options, though.

Here is the D.C.-Frederick-D.C. Ride With GPS file.

Gathland State Park, War Correspondents Memorial

D.C.-Shepherdstown-D.C., 161 miles: An excellent training ride that travels from D.C. to Poolesville and then uses White’s Ferry to cross the Potomac River, connect with Leesburg, Virginia in order to head out through Waterford and Lovettsville via back roads. The ride then heads to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, with a midpoint stop in Shepherdstown. A very hilly section is in store for riders as they leave West Virginia and head through Gathland State Park, Maryland, and over to Mar-Lu Ridge for the last big rise of the day. More big rollers follow until Poolesville and then it’s familiar rollers through Potomac and back into the District.

This ride will get you into good brevet shape. Ride With GPS file here.

Outside Hillsboro

Washington-Paris-Washington, 187 miles: A popular ride when it comes to building base miles and throwing in some rolling terrain, this route was created by Crista Borras of the D.C. Randonneurs. It’s a mostly rolling course that heads to Hillsboro, Virginia, with a solid climbing section up Snickers Gap and Mount Weather to boot. Oh and Naked Mountain, too. The last 50 miles are via the W&OD and Custis Trails. It’s a beautiful ride through a lot of Virginia horse country, and another one of those courses where you are surprised how close D.C. actually is to some really prime riding.

Ride With GPS file is here. Our buddy Jerry developed a shortcut ride of 143 miles based on this route that keeps in a lot of the climbing – including Mount Weather, and you can see that here.

White’s Ferry

As I think of additional rides, I will update the page. In the meantime, if you have your own suggestions please provide them below or send me a note. And if you do check out one of these rides, let me know how it goes!

1 Comment

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