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Posted at 4:44 PM ET, 05/18/2007

Trail Mix

By Julia Beizer

In honor of Bike to Work Day, I wanted to make sure we followed up on this unanswered question from yesterday's Got Plans?

Alexandria, Va.: Hi GOGs! I tried this one last week but didn't get a response, so I thought I'd try again (I know you guys get tons of questions). I recently purchased a bike and can't wait to break it in. Can you recommend some local bike trails? Also, is it safe for a 20-something woman to ride alone? Thanks!

This weekend's weather may not be conducive to hitting the trails, but once it dries up a bit, there are plenty of paths to pedal. In Alexandria, the Mount Vernon Trail is a good place to start. This relatively flat stretch along the George Washington Parkway offers nice scenery and the chance to bike to cool sites like Mount Vernon. The drawbacks? It is crowded on the weekends. It's not quite as bad as, say, trying to bike through the Cherry Blossom gawkers, but on a nice day, it gets close.

Capital Crescent is another popular (and scenic) route that winds around Georgetown up the west side of the city. For a reference, check out this map. If you start in Bethesda, the trip ends with a nice view of the Potomac and possibly lunch in Georgetown.

A section of Rock Creek Park's Beach Drive closes to cars over the weekend. That spot, just north of the intersection with Tilden Street, is popular with riders.

Not being a cyclist myself, I took the question to an expert. Phil Koopman, co-owner of City Bikes, suggested the less-trafficked bike routes in Prince George's County and the Canal Towpath. He also talked up the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's site, which provides a slew of maps for riders.

These few suggestions don't even come close to covering the trail opportunities for riders. All you cyclists out there, help your fellow readers. Where do you get your ride on?

As to the safety question, riders should exercise the same caution and common sense they use when walking around alone at night. As Koopman said, "Bikes are somewhat safer -- you're going faster. But if someone hits you, they can knock you over." Some trails have secluded sections; Koopman recommended that riders beware in those tucked-away spots.


By Julia Beizer  | May 18, 2007; 4:44 PM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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Just outside the beltway there's some good trail riding in Lake Accotink and Wakefield parks (

Also, the W&OD path is never-ending - almost literally, so lots of possibilities there... (

Posted by: T.B. | May 18, 2007 11:31 PM | Report abuse

The W&OD Trail between Leesburg and Purcellville is the most beautiful part of the trail. While it is generally safe, I (a woman) would probably ride alone on weekends or holidays when I know there will be lots of other people around. While attacks are not frequent, they HAVE occurred at various points along the trail. Get a biking buddy or ride when you know there will be lots of people around. Join WABA (Washington Area Bicycling Association). They have lots of great resources!

Posted by: JBL | May 31, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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