Custis Trail

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map of the Custis Trail

The Custis Trail is a hilly, 4 mi (6.4 km) paved bicycle trail in Arlington County, Virginia that extends from Key Bridge at Rosslyn westward to the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail in the Dominion Hills neighborhood.[1][2]


The Custis Trail was built alongside Interstate 66 (named the Custis Memorial Parkway in Virginia east of the Capital Beltway) for $2.5 million.[3] I-66 had been rejected by the federal government and so in 1977 the trail was added to the project to win approval. Work on the trail began with the highway on August 8, 1978. The trail opened in the summer of 1982 a little before the highway did. Originally, the Custis Trail (or I-66 Trail as it was often called in the beginning) extended 8.5 miles into Falls Church, but the section from Bon Air Park to Falls Church was later re-branded as part of the W&OD Trail.[4] On June 11, 1987, a bridge was built at the eastern end of the trail connecting it to the Mt. Vernon Trail over the George Washington Parkway.[5]

In 2018, a lane of Lee Highway between North Lynn Street and North Oak Street was removed by VDOT and Arlington County so that the trail could be widened from 10 feet to 16 feet and so that the buffer could be widened from 3 feet to 8 feet.[6]


On the east side, the trail connects to the Key Bridge, creating a connection to Georgetown near the southern end of the Capital Crescent Trail, and to the Mount Vernon Trail, which provides access to three Potomac River crossings into downtown Washington, D.C., (the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, the Arlington Memorial Bridge and the George Mason Memorial Bridge (see: 14th Street Bridge)).[2] The trail then follows a hilly, urban route along I-66 through Arlington County to a junction with the W&OD Trail at Bon Air Park. Along the way, it crosses I-66 three times, twice at Lee Highway and again at Bon Air Park. It also has a spur along Fairfax Drive that leads to the Bluemont Junction Trail.


The trail is sometimes called the "Nellie Custis Trail" or the "Martha Custis Trail" but there is no clear record that the trail was named for any particular person. In 1980, there was some discussion of naming the road for the family, and it was eventually named the "Custis Memorial Parkway" east of the Beltway. At the time that I-66 was opening, Virginia was calling the road the "Martha Custis Parkway," but the name didn't stick and was never official. In 1981, at least one columnist thought the road - and by extension the trail - was being named specifically for Nellie.[4][7][8] The trail has also been called the "Custis Memorial Parkway Trail".

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Custis Trail". Bike Washington. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
  2. ^ a b "Arlington County Bike Map" (PDF). Bike Arlington. Arlington, Virginia: Arlington County Department of Environmental Services. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-10. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  3. ^ "Arlington Virginia List of State Roads". Environmental Services. Government of Arlington County, Virginia. 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  4. ^ a b Hodge, Paul (22 December 1982). "$2.5-Million Bicycle Path Along I-66 Wins Praise". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  5. ^ Brooks, Dudley (12 June 1988). "Bikers' Bridge". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Lynn Street Esplanade & Custis Trail Improvements". Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  7. ^ Grubisich, Thomas (21 June 1980). "Routes -- Arlington Looks to History: I-66 May Be Named After Old Custis Family". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ Levey, Bob (5 November 1981). "An Honor That Nellie Custis Doesn't Deserve". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 September 2018.

Coordinates: 38°53′14″N 77°07′03″W / 38.887242°N 77.117378°W / 38.887242; -77.117378