Mount Vernon Trail
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The Mount Vernon Trail, a part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, is a 17 miles (27 km) paved hiking/cycling path in Northern Virginia that travels between Rosslyn and George Washington's home at Mount Vernon. The trail travels through the easternmost portions of Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and Fairfax County. It is part of U.S. Bike Route 1.
The Mount Vernon Trail opened in May 1972 as a gravel path. It was later paved and expanded.
The trail's route parallels the George Washington Memorial Parkway and the western bank of the Potomac River. Most of the northern half of the trail is open and has views of the river and of Washington, D.C. The southern 8 miles (13 km) below Alexandria is largely wooded and has only occasional views of the river.
The northern end of the trail is at a parking lot near Theodore Roosevelt Island. The trail travels south near the Potomac River until it turns inland to pass between the Parkway and the west side of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Before reaching the airport, the trail passes through Gravelly Point, where there are often views of airplanes that are taking off and landing. A connecting trail travels through the airport and provides access to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Metro Station and the Abingdon historic site.
After passing the airport, the trail crosses Four Mile Run and continues south into the Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, where it travels on city streets. After crossing under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and over Hunting Creek, the trail continues south along the Potomac River, traveling near Belle Haven, the west side of Dyke Marsh and the east side of Fort Hunt Park. The last mile before reaching Mount Vernon is a curving uphill inland climb.
The trail connects to other area hiker/biker routes including: the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail, a 45 miles (72 km) paved rail trail that travels between Arlington and Purcellville, Virginia (accessed from the Four Mile Run Trail, which ends at the Mount Vernon Trail near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and from the Custis Trail, which begins at the Mount Vernon Trail near Theodore Roosevelt Island); the 185 miles (298 km) Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, which travels from Georgetown in Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland; the Capital Crescent Trail, which travels north for 11 miles (18 km) from Georgetown through Bethesda, Maryland to Silver Spring, Maryland; and the Rock Creek Park Trail, which travels through Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland and ends near Lake Needwood.
Northern Extension (Potomac Heritage Trail): This 10 miles (16 km) unpaved hiking trail begins northwest of Theodore Roosevelt Island and travels northwest through Arlington and Fairfax Counties in and near the Potomac River gorge and near the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The trail travels near the shoreline of the Potomac River, crossing under the Francis Scott Key Bridge and passing Chain Bridge. The trail then travels inland along Pimmit Run, passes Fort Marcy Park, returns to the Potomac's shoreline and passes Turkey Run Park. The trail ends after passing beneath the American Legion Memorial Bridge, which carries the Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) over the Potomac River.
Scenes along the Mount Vernon Trail, from south to north:
- Eisner, Mary (1972). "She's Winning Bike Battle". Washington Star (Washington, DC). Retrieved 2014-07-30.
- "Mount Vernon Trail". George Washington Memorial Parkway. National Park Service. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "The Mount Vernon Trail". Washington DC Multi-Use Trails. Bike Washington.org. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "Mount Vernon Trail, Virginia". Virginia Bike Trails: TrailLink.com. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- Cooper, Rachel. "Mount Vernon Trail – Northern Virginia’s Scenic Trail". About.com: Washington, D.C. About.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- "Potomac Heritage Trail - Chain Bridge Section". Trail Voice. Retrieved 2012-01-02.