Northern Virginia Bike Trails: Paved and Mountain Biking Fun Near DC

Northern Virginia bike trails include a fun selection of easy to challenging rides with paved, off-road, and mountain biking options near Washington DC. Whether you’re looking for a short easy ride with the kids, or  heart-pumping single-track for avid mountain biking fans, you’ll find something on our list.

These bike trails in Northern Virginia are perfect for a day trip from Washington DC. And there are plenty of great places to eat, and things to do, after your ride. Almost all of the parks offer good hiking trails too, so they are a good choice if your group has a mix of hikers and bikers.

The Northern Virginia Bike Trails are listed below in two groups—Mountain Bike Trails and Paved Trails—then alphabetical by park or trail name. Follow the related article links for more information about things to do at or near each park. Scroll down for general tips about biking in the DC region, plus helpful sites with more details.

The W & OD Bike Trail ends in Purcellville Virginia
The W & OD Bike Trail ends in Purcellville Virginia

Mountain Bike Trails in Northern Virginia

Hills in the Virginia Piedmont are small, but off-road bike fans will find several fun mountain biking trails and courses in Northern VA. Dirt bike trails in the area run the gamut from level, easy rides, to challenging courses with lots of twists and turns. Several of our county and regional parks include off-road bike trail networks, and most offer free entry and parking.

Here is a rundown of some favorite places to mountain bike in Northern Virginia.

Bull Run Occoquan Trail (BROT)

One of the newer trails open to mountain biking—the Bull Run Occoquan Trail between Fountainhead Regional Park and Bull Run Marina—has quickly become a local favorite. Begin your ride at the Fountainhead parking lot. The trail starts out mellow and ends with some pretty challenging climbs near the parking lot at the Marina. The ride offers plenty of time to warm up before getting into the serious stuff.

This is also one of favorite segments for hiking, and there are some interesting historic sites along the way. Plan your visit with our guide to this fun wooded trail: Bull Run Occoquan Trail: Fountainhead to Bull Run Marina. Note that this is the only segment of the BROT open to bikes.

Bull Run Occoquan Trailhead at Fountainhead Park
Bull Run Occoquan Trailhead at Fountainhead Park

Burke Lake

The 4.5-mile, mostly level dirt trail around Burke Lake is popular for biking with kids. The trail is generally wide, hills are small, and there are many places to stop along the way for a picnic with lake views. The Burke Lake trail is heavily used by hikers runners, and dog-walkers, and the trail is especially busy on nice weekend days. The park is not a good choice for serious mountain biking as the path is very easy and too crowded for speed.

Burke Lake Park offers family-friendly biking in Northern Virginia
Burke Lake Park offers family-friendly biking in Northern Virginia

Fairfax Cross County Trail (CCT)

The Fairfax Cross County Trail (CCT aka the Gerry Connolly Cross County Trail) is a 45-mile long network of trails that crosses the county from north to south. The Difficult Run and Lake Accotink trails described here are part of the CCT, and the entire trail is open to biking. The CCT includes a mix of paved, stonedust, gravel, and dirt surfaces. Some sections are flat and easy, and others are hilly with rocky sections. Read our article 5 Tips for Hiking the Cross County Trail for more information on trail segments and links to more information.

Fairfax CCT segment 8 in Vienna Virginia
Fairfax CCT segment 8 in Vienna Virginia

Fountainhead Regional Park

The mountain bike trails at Fountainhead Regional Park are very popular and some of the best for building your biking skills. The trails are designated as “single-use”, so you shouldn’t run into any hiking or equestrian traffic. Another plus is the “one way” designation of this trail system, so no oncoming traffic to watch out for. There is literally something for just about every skill level, with three loops to the trail system.

The trails at Fountainhead include roughly 14 miles of great mountain biking. There are bridges to cross, small to medium-sized drop offs, and rock gardens to challenge the more skillful riders. Most technical features include bypasses for bikers who would rather avoid them.

The trail is open year-round except in inclement weather. To check the trail status, call 703-250-9124 option 1, or check the park Facebook page. Fountainhead Regional Park is at 10875 Hampton Road in Fairfax Station. The park is open dawn to dusk; entrance and parking is free.

Mountain Bike Trail at Fountainhead Park VA; photo by Stefan Hansen
Mountain Bike Trail at Fountainhead Park VA; photo by Stefan Hansen

Great Falls Park

The dramatic trails next to the falls and river at Great Falls Park are only open to hikers. However, three trails—the Old Carriage Road, Ridge Trail, and Difficult Run Trail—offer a good workout for off-road cycling. Begin in any of the parking areas near the Visitor Center and follow the Old Carriage Road to the Ridge Trail. Continue onto the Difficult Run Trail to traverse the whole park. Just be prepared for the mile-long uphill climb on the Carriage Road, and the extremely steep transition from Ridge to Difficult Run.

There is also a small parking area on Georgetown Pike if you want to ride in the other direction. It’s tempting to make this a loop by returning on scenic Georgetown Pike, but we don’t recommend it. The road is very curvy and narrow with no shoulder and terrible sight-lines for the steady stream of cars that use this as a commuter route.

Great Falls Park is at 9200 Old Dominion Drive in McLean. Entry to the park is open during daylight hours, from 7:00 am to 30 minutes after sunset. Entrance fees are $15 per vehicle, $7 per bike, for a 7-day pass.

The Great Falls Park Ridge Trail is open to cyclists
The Great Falls Park Ridge Trail is open to cyclists

Lake Fairfax

A fun network of more than 12 miles of single and double-track traverse the hills of Lake Fairfax Park. Several of the trails include steep hills and tight turns that will get your heart pumping. Mid Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE), who build and maintain the bike trail network at Lake Fairfax, describe the trails this way:

[quote]There are wide, flowy, family-friendly trails; challenging rocky sections; purpose-built flow trails with massive berms, rollers, and jumps; and good old tight, twisty old school singletrack.[/quote]

Lake Fairfax is also home to Northern Virginia’s first Pump Track, thanks to MORE. And since the Lake Fairfax mountain biking trail network connects to both the W&OD and CCT, it is easy to extend your ride beyond the park. When you’re ready for a break, take a short ride over to The Bike Lane Brewing and Cafe and relax with a tasty craft beer.

Lake Fairfax Park is at 1400 Lake Fairfax Drive in Reston. The park is open dawn to dusk; entrance and parking are free. You can also access the mountain bike trails at Lake Fairfax from the parking area behind SkateQuest at 1800 Michael Faraday Drive.

Lake Fairfax Park has a great network of mountain biking trails
Lake Fairfax Park has a great network of mountain biking trails

Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area

Almost 7 miles of bike trails. While less challenging technically than either of the above, the Meadowood Recreation Area trails offer nice flow and include some technical features on The Boss loop that can be fun. I think it’s telling that this is one of Cami’s favorite trails to ride as a beginner mountain biker and that I also enjoy it even though I’ve been mountain biking for over 30 years. (BOSS Trail is one of 3)

Meadowood Recreation Area is located in Lorton on the Mason Neck Peninsula. The Bureau of Land Management maintains park facilities; parking and entrance are free. The park also offers 13 miles of hiking trails, 7 miles of equestrian trails, and 2 fishing ponds. The park is at  10406 Gunston Road in Lorton.

Wakefield Park and Lake Accotink Park

Wakefield Park and Lake Accotink Park are technically two different trail systems, but they’re fun to ride together as they are linked by a short ride on the CCT. Park at Wakefield and use it as a warm up. The Wakefield trails are rather mellow technically but have plenty of twists and turns to make for some fun riding. A few miles away, the trails at Lake Accotink Park have a lot of obstacles (rocks, roots, downed trees) and plenty of steep climbs and descents. The single-track Lake Accotink trails are more intermediate in nature.

There is also an easy dirt and paved trail on the east side of the lake that’s popular with families, and the park offers bike rentals in season. To begin your ride at Wakefield Park park near Audrey Moore Rec Center or the Wakefield Skate Park in Annandale. To begin at Lake Accotink, park near the railroad bridge at 7500 Accotink Park Road in Springfield.

Wakefield Park off-road bike trail by Stefan Hansen
Wakefield Park off-road bike trail by Stefan Hansen

Paved Northern Virginia Bike Trails in the DC Region

Washington and Old Dominion

Washington and Old Dominion Regional Park is the longest, skinniest park in Virginia, stretching 45 miles from Arlington to Purcelville. Affectionately known as the W&OD, this rails to trails conversion was named a Hall of Fame bike trail by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Views on the paved W&OD bike trail transition from busy neighborhood to bucolic farmland as you make your way west.

Park in downtown Vienna and head west to Hunter Mill Road for an easy and scenic 3-mile bike ride with no road crossings. On your return trip, stop for craft beer and a meal at Caboose Brewing Company, located right next to the trail. To add a little distance and some steep hills, you can take a side trip on the Meadowlark Connector Trail to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.

Start your bike trip in Purcelville to enjoy a rural and scenic ride through Loudoun County. There are several great places to eat and drink local in Purcelville after your ride.

Fall is a beautiful time on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Northern VA
Fall on the Washington and Old Dominion Bike Trail in Northern VA

Mount Vernon Trail

The Mount Vernon Trail is a paved, 18-mile pathway that follows the Potomac River from Theodore Roosevelt Island south to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Along the trail you’ll enjoy interesting historic stops and excellent views of Washington DC across the river. Most of the trail is dedicated to foot and bicycle traffic, but a stretch through downtown Alexandria uses streets.

The Mount Vernon Trail is very popular and quite narrow, so use extra caution and expect to share the path with families, joggers, and dog-walkers. The section south of the Belle Haven parking area has some scenic stretches of boardwalk with views of Dyke Marsh. The Mount Vernon Trail is managed by the National Park Service and is part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Parking is available at several points along the trail including Theodore Roosevelt Island, Gravelly Point, Jones Point Park, Belle Haven Park, Fort Hunt Park, and Riverside Park.

Mount Vernon Trail in Mount Vernon Virginia
Mount Vernon Trail in Mount Vernon Virginia

Prince William Forest Park

11 miles of paved roads, including a 7.3-mile scenic loop, are open to bicyclists at Prince William Forest Park. The road offers a good workout on hilly portions. There is also a 3-mile, mostly level section with dedicated bike lanes thats a great option for beginners and families. Off-road biking is allowed on the 10 gravel fire roads at the park. The off-road bike trails are short (1 to 3 mile) out-and-back rides to historic sites and park boundaries.

Prince William Forest Park is at 18100 Park Entrance Road in Triangle. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. A 7-day entrance pass is $15 per vehicle; $7 for bicycles.

Scenic drive with bike lane Prince William Forest
Scenic drive with bike lane Prince William Forest

Reston Area Paved Bike Trails and Paths

An extensive network of paved trails criss-cross the town of Reston, offering many options for an easy bike ride or a hilly workout. There are 55 miles of paved and natural trails in Reston, and bikes are permitted on all of them.

  • The paved Turquoise Trail follows the Glade Stream Valley between Hunter Woods and South Lakes Village Centers. We particularly like the scenic stretch between Soapstone Drive and Twin Branches Road. Start at Soapstone and even young children can enjoy an easy ride through the woods. Ariake is a nice spot to eat in Hunters Woods.
  • The Red Trail around Lake Thoreau is only 2 miles long but it has some very steep sections and a nice stretch along the lakefront. Follow your bike ride with a meal at local favorites CafeSano or Reds Table.
  • Trails between North Point, Lake Anne, and Tall Oaks Village Centers are generally wooded and include steep hills.
Shady Glade Stream hike Reston Virginia
Shady Glade Stream hike Reston Virginia

Tips and Resources for Northern Virginia Bike Trails

We are fortunate to have such a wealth of Northern Virginia bike trails, even in our busy region, right next door to Washington DC. Most of the parks in the region are popular and busy, especially on warm weekends, so expect to encounter others on the trail.

All of the Northern Virginia mountain biking trails on our list are multi-use trails, except for the dedicated trails at Fountainhead. Remember that cyclists share the trail with hikers, families, equestrians, and dog-walkers. Use caution and always alert others as you approach.

Fountainhead Park bike trail by Stefan Hansen
Fountainhead Park bike trail by Stefan Hansen

Here are helpful sites and organizations to help plan your bike outing:

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Stefan Hansen for his advice and photos on the Northern Virginia mountain bike trails included here. Follow @HowaboutStefan on Instagram (and his partner @i.cami) for great photos of their Virginia travels.

More Virginia Bike Trails Worth the Drive

Roanoke Virginia is a mountain bikers dream. Multiple parks offer a range of trails from beginner to expert, both in the city and in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. In fact, the Roanoke area was recently named an IMBA Silver-Level Ride Center. Plan your visit with our complete guide to Fun Outdoor Activities in Roanoke VA and Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

The Virginia Creeper Trail is one of the most popular bike trails in the Eastern United States, and has earned a spot in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. The trail meanders 34 miles through the Southwest Virginia countryside. Bikers can soak up the views with modest effort on a 17-mile downhill ride from Whitetop to Damascus.  Plan a visit with our guide Fun Things to Do in Southwest Virginia on an SWVA Road Trip.

Take a day trip or weekend getaway to bike the Virginia Capital Trail. 52 miles of paved trail navigate a route from Virginia’s current capital, Richmond, to it’s first capital, Jamestown. Find the Capital Trail and more in our guide:  Fun Things to Do in Richmond VA on a Getaway to Virginia’s Capital City.

Do you have a favorite trail that’s not on our list? Please share your tips in the comments below. Whichever Northern Virginia bike trails you choose to explore (maybe all of them) we wish you safe and happy biking.

Follow @FuninFairfax on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram for things to do, places to explore, dine and drink discoveries, and year-round fun in Virginia and the DC region.

Northern Virginia Bike Trails for paved and mountain biking fun near Washington DC

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