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Mount Vernon Trail
Parallelling the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Theodore Roosevelt Island and Mount Vernon, the Mount Vernon Trail follows the scenic and historic Potomac River for 18 miles. Along its course, there are vistas of both the Washington, D.C. skyline and undeveloped riverside tracts. There is also access to several parks, natural sites, and locations of historical interest and significance. The parts of the trail that go through Arlington and Old Town Alexandria feature more urban landscapes.
Administered by the National Park Service as a part of the GW Parkway, the Mount Vernon Trail is a paved mixed-use trail open to hikers and cyclists. Do note that bicycles are not allowed on the Parkway itself. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail, with the exception of motorized wheelchairs.
The trail is open year-round every day from 6 A.M. until 10 P.M. Access is very convenient. Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists can access the trail at either end, but there are also several access points right off the Parkway for drivers. Some of these points have very limited parking, so on weekends and holidays, plan to arrive either early or well after the busiest hours for the best chances of securing a parking spot. Lady Bird Johnson Park and the Navy-Marine Memorial do not have parking. This NPS map should be helpful in locating the various access points.
People using the Metro Orange And Blue Lines. From the stops at Arlington National Cemetery, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and Rosslyn, the trail is just a quick walk or ride away. Be sure to check with Metro for service hours and fares.
There are over a dozen parks and other attractions alongside the trail or very close by. Some of the most notable include Riverside Park, with picnicking, fishing, and scenic river views; Dyke Marsh, one of the region’s largest remaining freshwater marshes and home to abundant wildlife; Jones Point Lighthouse, which used to warn ships of shifting sandbars in the river; the historic waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, with dining, shopping, and more; Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of veterans both famous and little-known, as well as the site of the perpetually guarded Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; and Theodore Roosevelt Island, a national memorial tract in the Potomac River honoring the conservationist president who took action to protect many of the lands we enjoy as national parks and preserves today.
As you enjoy the trail, keep an eye out for the many species of wildlife that make this protected sliver of nature their home. Songbirds flit about in trees and meadows as raptors such as hawks, ospreys, owls, and bald eagles watch both land and water for prey. Red foxes and beavers are commonly seen, as are brown bats and several species of reptiles and amphibians. Throughout the year, view and appreciate the native flora as well, especially the blooms of spring and vibrant colors of fall.
No matter where you start or how far you go, an outing on the Mount Vernon Trail is bound to be enjoyable and memorable, leaving you wanting to return.
VISIT US FROM MOUNT VERNON TRAIL