Off-road biking has become extremely popular among Americans across generations. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, mountain bikes and hybrids now make up approximately 50% of all bicycles sold in the U.S. In the Washington, D.C. area, there are miles of trails available to mountain bikers of all skill levels. Here are a few of the best spots.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

Stretching nearly 200 miles from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Maryland, the towpath along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal is a very popular bare soil trail for mountain bikers. It is extremely flat (average 0° grade), wide, and generally clear of any obstacles, which makes it ideal for recreational mountain bikers or those more experienced bikers who are simply seeking an easy ride. The ride is scenic with many beautiful views of the Potomac River and the historic remains of the old canal system along the way.

Fort Dupont Park

Fort DuPont Park is a 376-acre wooded park in Southeast D.C. There are miles of biking trails in and extending from the park. The Fort Circle Trail is the main biking trial that runs through the park and connects a number of historic military outpost built to protect the city. The trail includes some rolling hills but nothing is very steep, and it is generally considered an easy to intermediate ride. However, it’s important to note the some parts of the trail do cross busy streets and some sections are only singletrack.

Rock Creek Park

Rock Creek Park is a large urban park the extends through the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. It has miles of paved (on-road and off-road), wide mixed use trails that make for easy riding. On weekends and holidays, large sections of Beach Drive, which cuts through the park, are closed to vehicular traffic and draws a large number of mountain bikers. Many riders will add the Capital Crescent Trail to form a loop.

Related: Best Bike Shops in Washington, D.C.

Schaeffer Farms

Located in Germantown, Maryland, and part of Seneca Creek State Park, Schaeffer Farms has more than a dozen miles of trails designed specifically for mountain biking. The trails are mostly fast with some rolling hills. The Montgomery County affiliate of MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts) helps maintain the trails that span all ability levels from beginner to advanced. The trails, mostly singletrack, are well marked with frequent intersections to allow riders to vary routes and distances.

Fountainhead Regional Park

The trails at Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax Station, Virginia, are among the more difficult in the area and highly supported by Northern Virginia members of MORE. The trails are divided into three sections: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each trail is a singletrack loop and designed to challenge riders at all level. According to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, “the advanced loop starts with an entrance that opens with a steep incline, artfully placed rock step ups and a wooden hairpin turn.”

Related: Best Outdoor Gear Stores in Washington, D.C.

Based in Washington, D.C., Troy Petenbrink is a freelance writer, blogger and social media influencer. A member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, he has written for Fodor’s, Travel Channel, and Miami Herald, among other outlets.